Reasons for Exemption
The Class 3 exemption applies to projects that construct a limited number of new, small facilities or structures do not exceed the maximum allowable on any legal parcel. Examples of this exemption include construction of a single-family residence in a residential zone. The Class 2 exemption applies to the replacement of an existing structure on the same site as the structure replaced and that will have substantially the same purpose and capacity as the structure replaced.
The project involves the demolition of an existing single-family home and carport and construction of a new single-family home and a detached garage in the same location, consistent with the zoning of the property (R-1, Single Family Residential). The structure would be built on the east corner of Amherst Street and Stanford Avenue within an urban setting. Surrounding zoning and uses include other single family residences within the R-1 Zoning District. An approximately 20-foot-wide grassy swale is located on the northwest side of the proposed structure.
On behalf of the City, SWCA prepared a Biological Resources Evaluation (BRE). The BRE is available on the City of Palo Alto’s website for the project, and can be found here: [https://bit.ly/2015amherst]. The BRE analyzed the potential for sensitive and common plants and animals, habitats and sensitive natural communities, wildlife movement corridors, and water features potentially subject to federal or state jurisdiction to occur on site or within a 200-foot of the project site. The BRE concludes there are no waters of the State or Waters of the U.S. present on the project site and based on the lack of hydrophytic vegetation, hydrological influence, and hydric soils, the BSA does not contain stormwater conveyance, wetland, riparian, or any other potentially sensitive jurisdictional features. No special status plants were observed within the study area and there are no natural communities that occur within the project area. The BRE also concludes that due to fragmentation, development, and a high level of disturbance and human activity at the site, it is not anticipated that the project will adversely affect a wildlife movement corridor. The project would implement standard best management practices to ensure the protection of nesting birds in accordance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The project, therefore, is categorically exempt from the provision of the California Environmental Quality Act under the Class 3 exemption (15303).
Exceptions to the Exemptions
The City is aware that there are six categories or exceptions that preclude the use of Categorical Exemptions, as listed in CEQA Guidelines 15300.2 These categories, followed by the reason(s) the City believes they are not applicable to this project, are as follows:
15300.2(a) Location. Classes 3,4,5,6 and 11 are qualified by consideration of where the project is to be located—a project that is ordinarily insignificant in its impact may in a particularly sensitive environment
As described above, the BRE concludes that there are no sensitive or protected biological resources or habitat on the project site. Therefore, the project would not result in a significant impact due to its location.
15300.2(b) Cumulative Impact. All exemptions for these classes are inapplicable when the cumulative impact of successive projects of the same type in the same place, over time is significant.
The project is a stand-alone, site specific construction project that would not be phased. No other projects are planned for this site in the foreseeable future.
15300.2(c) Significant Effect. There are no unusual circumstances creating the possibility that the project will have a significant effect on the environment pursuant to CEQA.
There are no unusual circumstances affecting the project or property such as archeological or cultural resources or anything unique about the location of the property or adjacent properties, or existing uses or features on the property or adjacent property. The project complies with zoning and the comprehensive plan.
15300.2(d) Scenic Highways. A categorical exemption shall not be used for a project which may result in damage to scenic resources, including but not limited to, trees, historic buildings, rock outcroppings, or similar resources, with a highway officially designated as a state scenic highway. This does not apply to improvements which are required as mitigation by an adopted negative declaration or certified EIR.
The project site is not visible from a scenic highway. I-280 and Skyline Blvd (HWY 35) are the only State scenic highways in Palo Alto and they are not visible from 2015 Amherst.
15300.2(e Hazardous Waste Sites. A categorical exemption shall not be used for a project located on a site which is included on any list compiled pursuant to Section 65962.5 of the Government Code.
The City has reviewed the Cortese List on the Envirostor databased to confirm that the project site is not on a list of hazardous waste sites compiled pursuant to Sec 65962.5 of the Government Code.
15300.2(f)Historical Resources. A categorical exemption shall not be used for a project which may cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of an historical resource.
The project would have no impact on a historic resource.