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CEQA Updates

Keeping You Up-to-Date on the California Environmental Quality Act

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Thomas Law Group Receives “High 5 Award” at First 5 Sacramento 20th Anniversary Event

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

Thomas Law Group is honored to accept the High 5 Award at the Rise Up Sacramento event on January 8, 2019 at the Golden 1 Center’s Assembly Lounge. This award, granted on behalf of First 5 Sacramento and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, recognizes a business that incorporates family-friendly policies into the workplace. Hope to see you there!

The Rise Up Sacramento Event is put on by First 5 Sacramento. The group invests in critical programs for children and families in the Sacramento region. This event will celebrate the group’s 20th year of spearheading this work.

This event is free for anyone to attend, kindly register here: www.eventbrite.com/e/raise-up-sacramento-registration-52314641501

 

this event is free to attend. Kindly register by visiting https://www.eventbrite.com/e/raise-up-sacramento-registration-52314641501

Tina Thomas Hosts CEQA 2018: A Year In Review Panel at 33rd Annual Land Use Law and Planning Conference

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

On Friday, January 18, 2019 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Thomas Law Group founder Tina Thomas will host the panel CEQA 2018: A Year in Review as part of UCLA Extension’s 33rd Annual Land Use Law and Planning Conference. 

The conference it presented by UCLA Extension’s Public Policy Program. It focuses on providing practical, timely, and useful information relating to the practice of land use and environmental law, planning and development, and key policy decisions in these areas.

For more information visit: www.uclaextension.edu/33rdLandUseConference 

 

Thomas Law Group Annual Retreat

Monday, October 1st, 2018

In October 2018, Thomas Law Group team members and guests gathered for the firm retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area, including a tour of the Bay by sea in the Osprey, a 50 foot sailing yacht. This annual trip provided all participants an opportunity to relax and socialize together as well as strategize for the next business year as, “a team without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.” (Thomas Carlyle)

 

Thomas Law Group team members and guests gather at the Osprey’s bow before casting away!

 

Thomas Law Group wishes to thank all who helped make the day a great success, including TLG team members involved in planning the event and the crew of the Osprey, part of Captain Kirk’s San Francisco Sailing.

Tina Thomas and Thomas Law Group Attorneys Named Top Environmental and Land Use/Zoning Lawyers

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Tina Thomas and Thomas Law Group attorneys have been recognized anew in 2018 as top attorneys in environmental, land use, and zoning law and litigation.

Sacramento Magazine named a number of Thomas Law Group attorneys as “Top Lawyers,” an honor given only to a handful of attorneys with the highest number of peers’ votes. Tina Thomas was recognized as a top lawyer in both the environmental law and land use and zoning law categories. Nicholas Avdis, Of Counsel, and Chris Butcher were each recognized as top lawyers in land use and zoning law. Leslie Z. Walker, Of Counsel, was named a top lawyer in state, local, and municipal law.

U.S. News and World Report again ranked Tina Thomas as a “Best Lawyer” in environmental law, land use and zoning law, and land use and zoning litigation. She has consistently achieved this honor since 2008. The publication further announced Thomas Law Group as a top law firm in Sacramento for Environmental Law, Land Use and Zoning Law, and Land Use and Zoning Litigation.

Super Lawyers, a national publication of attorneys who exhibit excellence in practice, named Tina Thomas as a Super Lawyer in Environmental Law, a ranking she has consistently held since 2005. Nicholas Avdis was named as a top rated attorney in Land Use and Zoning Law. He was previously named as a rising star from 2009 to 2015.

Sacramento Business Journal named Tina Thomas as part of the “Best of the Bar” in 2018 for her work in environmental land use and natural resource litigation, including issues related to CEQA, NEPA, the Subdivision Map Act, and the California Endangered Species Act. Nicholas Avdis was also recognized for his work in land use, government affairs, regulatory law and entitlement processing. Nominations were vetted by a panel of peers, awarding points for expertise in the field, community reputation in the legal profession, and other factors.

We congratulate these Thomas Law Group attorneys on their accomplishments!

The Rose Foundation Releases Report on CEQA Economic Impact

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

CEQA has been in effect since 1970, when it was signed into law by Governor Ronald Regan. Over the past 46 years, there have been many debates about the effect CEQA has on the California economy. In response to recent analyses that link CEQA to economic challenges in the State, the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment released a report on August 15, 2016 entitled “CEQA in the 21st Century: Environmental Quality, Economic Prosperity, and Sustainable Development in California.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Since 2002, the state has averaged 195 CEQA lawsuits a year.
  • Lawsuits were filed for less than 1 out of every 100 projects reviewed under CEQA that were not considered exempt.
  • In San Francisco, only 14 environmental impact reports (EIRs) were prepared in the past three years (less than 5 EIRs per year).
  • Because California consistently ranks among the top states in terms of economic prosperity and development, the report concludes that the State’s environmental protections, including CEQA, have not constrained growth.

The full report can be accessed at: https://www.pcl.org/media/CEQA-in-the-21st-Century.pdf

Thomas Law Group Associates Present “CEQA Streamlining” to Association of Environmental Professionals at May 2016 Program

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Thomas Law Group Associates Chris Butcher and Ashle Crocker will host a special presentation on CEQA Streamlining at the Superior California Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals May 2016 Program on May 17, 2015 from 11:30 to 1:00 pm.

The program will be at Blue Prynt Restaurant, 815 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 and include a networking session, full lunch service, and a speaker presentation.

For more information, visit: http://superior.califaep.org/ or email Marieka at marieka@gpaconsulting-us.com

2016 May AEP Program

For more information, email the link in the poster.

Thomas Law Group Associates Present “CEQA Streamlining” to Professionals Involved in the Environmental Review Process

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Thomas Law Group Associates Chris Butcher and Ashle Crocker will host a special presentation on CEQA Streamlining as part of the curriculum developed specifically for professionals involved in the Environmental Review Process on May 17, 2015 from 8:00 to 9:30 am.

The program will be at North Coast Builders Exchange, 1030 Apollo Way, Santa Rosa.

For more information, call the North Coast Builders’ Association headquarters at 542-9502 or email receptionist@ncbeonline.com. We look forward to seeing you there!

CEQA seminar flyer

CEQA Streamlining Panel Friday, April 22, 2016.

Please Join AEP & APA North Bay For A Workshop CEQA Streamlining Processes

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Thomas Law Group Associates Chris Butcher and Ashle Crocker will host a special presentation on CEQA Streamlining Process for the Association of Environmental Professionals and the California chapter of the American Planning Association on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

The program will be at 2235 Mercury Way, Suite 150, Santa Rosa, California. Lunch will be provided.

For more information and to RSVP contact Carrie Lukacic at carrie@pcz.com

00186608

Join us! Contact Carrie at carrie@pcz.com

LSNC 13th Annual Race for Justice Valentine Run/Walk

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Thomas Law Group won “Best Dressed” at Legal Services of Northern California 13th Annual Race for Justice Valentine Run/Walk! Friends and family of Thomas Law Group all dressed in costume to match TLG team members as all participated int he annual community fundraiser for the legal services organization.

 

 

Team Thomas Law Group showing off their award-winning costumes.

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Thomas Law Group’s youngest entrant, Collette, in her race attire.

 

OPR RELEASES A REVISED PROPOSAL ON UPDATES TO THE CEQA GUIDELINES EVALUATING TRANSPORTATION IMPACTS

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

On January 20, 2016, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (“OPR”) released a Revised Proposal on Updates to the CEQA Guidelines on Evaluating Transportation Impacts. This follows a preliminary discussion draft that was released in August 2014. See more on the earlier draft at: http://www.thomaslaw.com/blog/opr-releases-preliminary-draft-changes-ceqa-guidelines-related-sb-743/#sthash.cm0vbAOa.dpuf

SB 743 (Steinberg, 2013), which shifted the focus of the transportation analysis from the reduction of traffic delay to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, creation of multimodal networks, and promotion of a mix of land uses, required OPR to undertake this effort to update the CEQA Guidelines.

OPR proposes to add a new section to the CEQA Guidelines – 15064.3 – that will address how to determine the significance of transportation impacts. The proposed Guideline contains three subdivisions:

  • Subdivision (a): Purpose – states that “generally, vehicle miles traveled [VMT] is the most appropriate measure of a project’s potential transportation impacts.” The Guideline notes that lead agencies can also consider effects on transit, non-motorized travel, and safety of all travelers. A project’s effect on automobile delay, however, cannot constitute a significant environmental impact.
  • Subdivision (b): Criteria for Analyzing Transportation Impacts – outlines specific criteria for determining the significance of transportation impacts. This section is further subdivided into: (1) VMT and land use projects, (2) induced travel and transportation projects, (3) qualitative analysis, and (4) methodology. A subsection in the previous draft that focused on traffic safety has been replaced with the subsection on qualitative analysis. The new proposed subsection states: “If existing models or methods are not available to estimate VMT for the particular project being considered, a lead agency may analyze the project’s VMT qualitatively.” Where a lead agency undertakes a qualitative analysis, the subdivision recommends the agency look at factors such as availability of transit, proximity to other destinations, area demographics, etc.
  • Subdivision (c) Applicability – notes that the changes will apply prospectively – two years from adoption date – though agencies can elect to be governed by the new guideline immediately if the agency has updated its procedures to conform to the new Guideline.

A controversial subdivision from the earlier draft of the Guidelines that would have amended Appendix F (Energy Conservation) to provide suggestions of potential mitigation measures and alternatives has been removed.  Instead, OPR has created a non-regulatory technical advisory that can be altered and updated at any time and addresses methodological considerations in more detail. The technical advisory includes recommended significance thresholds (though it notes that for rural areas, it might be best to determine thresholds on case by case basis):

  • For residential projects, exceeding both existing city household VMT per capital minus 15 percent and existing regional household VMT per capita minus 15 percent may indicate a significant transportation impact. For residential development in unincorporated county areas, a project that exceeds 15 percent below VMT per capita in the aggregate of all unincorporated jurisdictions in that county and exceeds 15 percent below regional VMT per capita may indicate a significant transportation impact.
  • For office projects, exceeding a level of 15 percent below existing regional VMT per employee may indicate a significant transportation impact.
  • For retail projects, OPR recommends analyzing whether there is a net increase in total VMT because retail typically redistributes trips rather than creating new ones.

 

  • For transportation projects, OPR recommends creating a project-level threshold that is derived from CARB’s estimate that statewide VMT can increase no more than 4 percent over 2014 levels in order for California to meet the emissions goals set in Execute Order B-30-15.

The proposed changes to Appendix G have been revised as well. The language now specifically excludes level of service when determining whether there will be a conflict with a circulation policy. The new language states: “Conflict with a plan, ordinance or policy addressing the safety or performance of the circulation system, including transit, roadways, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths (except for automobile level of service).” Additionally, the Appendix G questions concerning unsafe conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists or other users of public rights of way has been deleted.

OPR is requesting public review and comment of the Preliminary Discussion Draft. A copy of the Preliminary Discussion Draft is available at:

https://www.opr.ca.gov/docs/Revised_VMT_CEQA_Guidelines_Proposal_January_20_2016.pdf

All comments should be submitted by February 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm to CEQA.Guidelines@ceres.ca.gov.