California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – Land Use and Planning

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This section in an initial study checklist addresses the potential land use and planning impacts associated with a project. It deals with the physical impacts a project may cause, such as creating barriers that would divide an established community.

It also deals with a project’s compliance with the various land use plans, policies, and regulations adopted for the purpose of avoiding or mitigating an environmental effect. And asks a specific question be answered when preparing a CEQA initial study.

Would the project physically divide an established community?

It deals with the physical impacts a project may cause, such as creating barriers that would divide an established community.

It also deals with a project’s compliance with the various land use plans, policies, and regulations adopted for the purpose of avoiding or mitigating an environmental effect.

1. Determining the Scope of the Question

Factors that could physically divide a community include, but are not limited to:

– Construction of major highways or roadways;
– Construction of storm channels;
– Closing bridges or roadways; and
– Construction of utility transmission lines.

The key factor with respect to this question is creating physical barriers that change the connectivity between areas of a community to the extent that persons are separated from other areas of the community. Connectivity is typically provided by roadways, pedestrian paths, and bicycle paths.

The question uses the term “community” which can have a broad definition, such as a region, city, or a neighborhood.

The Initial Study Checklist preparer should determine an appropriate geographic area for analysis and take into account how a project would physically divide the geographic area.

For example, does the area contain homes, a school, a park, a shopping center that would constitute a community?

How would the project affect the roadways, pedestrian paths, or bicycle paths that connect these areas together?

Land use and planning is a one of the many important areas that has to be considered when preparing a CEQA document. Appendix G of the CEQA Guidelines covers 18 environmental topics and poses 89 questions.

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