What is Environmental Review?
The Environmental Planning Division of the Planning Department reviews projects for potential environmental impacts on the City of San Francisco and its residents, a process known as environmental review.
Reviews are conducted pursuant to CEQA and Chapter 31 of the San Francisco Administrative Code, which provides guidelines for implementing the CEQA process. The reviews identify any potential adverse environmental effects of proposed actions, assesses their significance, and proposes measures to eliminate or mitigate significant impacts. Certain actions identified by the state, known as Categorical Exemptions, are exempt from environmental review. Such exempt projects generally include small-scale new construction or demolition, some changes of use, some additions, and other generally small projects. These projects are enumerated in San Francisco Planning Commission Resolution No. 14952 Categorical Exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act, adopted on August 17, 2000.
What is subject to Environmental Review?
Most development, infrastructure and transportation projects, proposed regulatory changes, and permitting applications are subject to the "environmental review process."
- Local industrial, commercial, mixed use and residential developments or redevelopments
- Local and regional transit and transportation projects
- New or amended local, state, and federal rules and regulations
Current Documents for Public Review
Environmental Planning posts many documents for public review associated with the projects and proposed actions we are currently reviewing.
- Negative Declarations and EIRs
- SFPUC Negative Declarations and EIRs
- Area Plan EIRs
- Community Plan and Infill Exemptions
- Other CEQA Exemptions
- Notices of Determination & Notices of Exemption
Changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
On September 27, 2013, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 743 making changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Provisions of the bill affect the environmental review process in San Francisco, specifically how the Planning Department analyzes aesthetics, parking and automobile delay impacts. Aesthetics and parking impacts were effective immediately and the Planning Department has implemented those changes. On March 3, 2016, a resolution will be in front of the Planning Commission that, if adopted as presented by staff, will remove automobile delay as a significant impact on the environment and replace it with a vehicle miles traveled threshold for all CEQA environmental determinations, including active projects, going forward.
For more information, refer to the ALIGN component of the Transportation Sustainability Program.