As we not long ago thorough, Governor Newsom’s Trailer Bill would amend California’s hashish statutes in sizeable means, such as extending provisional licensing further than January one, 2020.  The Trailer Bill also would extend yet another critical deadline mentioned in our last CEQA blog site write-up:  the July 1, 2019 cutoff to a CEQA exemption for cities and counties.  

Below the Medicinal and Grownup-Use Hashish Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), until July one, 2019, California’s hallmark environmental security regulation, the California Environmental High quality Act (CEQA), “does not utilize to the adoption of an ordinance, rule, or regulation by a community jurisdiction that needs discretionary assessment and acceptance of permits, licenses, or other authorizations to engage in commercial hashish action.” (Small business and Professions Code § 26055(h).)  The Governor’s Trailer Monthly bill would lengthen this exemption until July one, 2021.

This CEQA exemption for metropolitan areas and counties encourages California’s localities to enact business hashish permitting ordinances.  Yet, with only about one particular-third of these jurisdictions presently letting any professional cannabis enterprises, and tax revenues slipping short of ambitions, it appears that more encouragement is essential.  Hence, the proposed Trailer Bill and its two-year extension.

Yet, while this exemption could lower CEQA limitations to regulatory entry for neighborhood governments, it does not provide much relief to cannabis enterprises them selves.  Indeed, by its possess terms, for local governments to be exempt, their individual permitting choices have to call for “discretionary critique.” A locality’s “discretion” to concern or deny a permit is element of what delivers its permit approval below CEQA’s purview.  (CEQA Guideline §§15352, 15357)

In other words and phrases, if you are making use of for a commercial cannabis permit, you nevertheless want to make guaranteed your enterprise designs satisfy CEQA’s requirements.

In this write-up, we will concentration on venture-level CEQA compliance and presents some thoughts for clearing this hurdle although aiming to decrease the price and burden.

1. Comprehend Your Local Jurisdiction’s CEQA Method

As “lead agencies” for CEQA applications, metropolitan areas and counties suppose most important responsibility for approving or denying specific permit programs dependent on CEQA’s prerequisites.  Therefore each business ought to perform closely with its regional jurisdictions to recognize its assessment of “significant” impacts.

California’s cities and counties have achieved commonly different conclusions about the likelihood and severity of business hashish environmental impacts of within their borders.  Some have bypassed any examination, getting gain of the aforementioned MAUCRSA exemption many others have carried out in-depth environmental influence evaluations. Permit applicants must understand exactly where their jurisdiction falls on this spectrum, and which impacts (if any) are vital to their jurisdiction.

This facts is especially very important for project administration reasons simply because specialist reports about sure CEQA impact variables (e.g. cultural or organic assets) can choose more time than others to timetable and finish.  

Furthermore, an applicant may perhaps be in a position to “tier” off its jurisdiction’s prior analyses, specifically if the jurisdiction by now has accomplished an EIR (environmental impression report) reaching conclusions about unique environmental impacts relevant to the applicant’s task.  

So commence nearby, and get concentrated on vital impacts aspects early.  

  two. Fit into Exemptions  

If attainable, tailor your permit application to in shape in just a challenge-stage CEQA exemption.   Fit your venture into multiple exemptions if that is an alternative!

CEQA has a range of exemptions, mainly commonly “statutory exemptions” and “categorical exemptions.”  If a job fulfills an exemption, then it normally will not need highly-priced analysis of environmental impacts because it is pre-established not to have significant effect on the setting.

The Bureau of Cannabis Management encourages this solution. Its “CEQA Exemption Petition Form” (BCC-LIC-026 (New 10/18)) suggests specified exemptions that might usually implement to cannabis firms.  These “common” exemption groups have two basic themes: 1) projects with pre-current facilities or pre-designed land, and 2) small alterations to land.  CEQA heavily favors challenge candidates who develop on previously-constructed or now-disturbed land. When a hashish allow applicant is deciding upon a likely web site for its facility, it should preserve these opportunity exemptions in brain (along with other community land use and zoning prerequisites, of system).

CEQA exemptions are not foolproof, however, simply because they are not absolute and statements of exemption may perhaps be subject to obstacle. Which sales opportunities us to the next idea . . .

three. Know (and Work With) Your Group

NIMBY (“Not In My Again Yard”) and anti-hashish neighbors can weaponize CEQA to hold off or eliminate a hashish jobs, which is why local community outreach is critically critical.   Inform and teach your neighbors early on to make them come to feel read. Get their invest in-in prior to breaking ground.

Is your group concerned about targeted traffic? Odors? Noise? Pesticides? Attempt to locate a widespread-ground resolution (or, “mitigate likely impacts” in CEQA-converse) to steer clear of time-consuming and costly battles.

Even if a allow software suits within just 1 or far more categorical exemptions, “exceptions” to these exemptions can apply to have to have deeper analyze of environmental impacts.  For case in point, lengthy-time period “cumulative impacts” of the hashish operation might be “significant” sufficient to advantage even more study. So too with notably delicate environmental surroundings, or important historic or archeological places.

So never just rely on CEQA exemptions also depend on good neighborhood relations, which must be cultivated and very carefully tended to from the inception of the undertaking.

4. Talk to a CEQA Specialist Early

Build a CEQA method early on, and prepare for hiccups together the way.  CEQA environmental consultants can assistance allow candidates place potential difficulty parts, evaluate the “significance” of opportunity environmental impacts, propose approaches to mitigate people impacts, and recommend on the ideal environmental doc to put together.  This upfront legwork will make a “defensible” CEQA compliance approach–if disputes ever should really occur.

Environmental examination and effect reviews can be extremely expensive, possibly costing a California tiny cultivator all around $40,000 to $60,000. (“Navigating Environmental Restrictions,” Cannabis Business Journal, January 2019).  But failing to do the scientific tests can price tag a large amount a lot more than that down the road if the job is held up in litigation

Conclusion

CEQA is difficult, and fair minds can vary about how “significant” is a certain environmental influence.  This is still a different region of law the place an ounce of prevention can help you save a ton of headache and heartache in the foreseeable future.   

This details is delivered as a public assistance and is not supposed as legal guidance. For certain inquiries related to CEQA compliance or for lawful assistance regarding permitting, licensing and compliance in standard, remember to make contact with the Regulation Places of work of Omar Figueroa at (707) 829-0215 or info@omarfigueroa.com to routine a confidential lawful consultation.

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