California Governor Extends Deadlines for Certain CEQA Noticing Procedures

Environmental/Land Use Alert (April 29, 2020)

On April 22, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newson issued Executive Order N-54-20, which declares that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it “impossible or impracticable” for lead and responsible agencies and project applicants to adhere to public filing and notice requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Executive Order thus suspends the following deadlines for 60 days:
  • Posting notice that a lead agency is preparing an environmental impact report or negative declaration (Pub. Resources Code, § 21092)
  • Posting notice that an environmental impact report is required (Pub. Resources Code, § 21080.4)
  • Posting and filing notices of determination (Pub. Resources Code, § 21152 and CEQA Guidelines, §§ 15075, 15094)
  • Filing a notice of exemption (CEQA Guidelines, § 15062)
  • Providing notice of the availability of a draft environmental impact report (CEQA Guidelines, § 15087)
  • Posting notice of intent to adopt a negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration (CEQA Guidelines, § 15072)
The Executive Order also suspends CEQA’s timeframes for tribal consultations for 60 days.

If, during the 60-day suspension period, a lead or responsible agency or project applicant moves forward with a CEQA requirement that calls for public posting, filing materials with the county clerk, or otherwise making materials available to the public, the agency or applicant must:

  1. Post such materials on the relevant agency’s or applicant’s public-facing website for the same period of time that physical posting would otherwise be required;
  2. Submit all materials electronically to the State Clearinghouse CEQAnet Web Portal; and
  3. Engage in outreach to any individuals and entities known by the lead agency, responsible agency, or project applicant to be parties interested in the project in the manner contemplated by the Public Resources Code sections 21100 et seq. and California Code of Regulations, Title 14, sections 15000 et seq.
In addition to these three requirements, the lead or responsible agency and project applicant are encouraged to pursue additional methods of public notice and outreach as is appropriate for particular projects and communities.

Further, it appears the Executive Order does not affect the Judicial Council’s Emergency Rule that tolls the statute of limitations for all civil cases until 90 days after the Governor declares the state of emergency related to COVID-19 is lifted.

[This case alert does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created by viewing or responding to this alert.  Legal counsel should be sought for answers to specific legal questions.]