California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which was enacted in 1970, is a statewide environmental law contained in the California Public Resources Code Sections 21000–21177. CEQA requires all California public agencies, including the City of Chino Hills, to identify and disclose the potentially significant environmental effects of a proposed development project, and avoid or mitigate those effects, if feasible.

 The Planning Division is responsible for implementing CEQA within the City.

 There are three levels of CEQA review:

1. Exemption

Many types of smaller development projects or projects that can be seen with certainty to have no significant detrimental impact on the environment are generally exempt from CEQA.

2. Initial Study

When staff concludes that a project has the potential to have some detrimental impacts on the environment, staff will conduct an "Initial Study." Upon completion of the Initial Study, staff can come to one of two  conclusions.

3a. Negative Declaration

A Negative Declaration occurs when there are no potentially significant impacts or when there identified potentially significant impacts that can be mitigated to a less than significant level through the adoption of a mitigation plan. Under these circumstances, the project is eligible for a Negative Declaration or a Mitigated Negative Declaration (ND or MND).


3b. Environmental Impact Report

If the Initial Study identifies one or more significant impacts on the environment and those impacts cannot be mitigated to a less than significant level, then the City must prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). An EIR will consider potential impacts and mitigations, and also alternatives to the project that would not cause those significant impacts or would have lesser impacts than the proposed project.

Public Access to CEQA Documents

Assembly Bill (AB) 819, signed into law on July 16, 2021, requires electronic posting of certain CEQA notices as outlined below:

Following final approval of a development project for which a CEQA determination has been made, the City will post a notice with both the San Bernardino County Clerk of the Board and the State Office of Planning and Research (OPR), and on the City’s website.

For a project which has been found to be exempt from CEQA, the City shall file a Notice of Exemption (NOE). For a project which has required either a ND, MND or EIR, the City shall file a Notice of Determination (NOD).

NOEs and NODs filed can be found on the OPR website at: NOEs and NODs and related CEQA documents are also posted on the City’s website below.

CEQA Notices and Reports