Reasons for Exemption
The proposed project is Categorically Exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15303 (New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures).
The Planning Commission also considered whether any exceptions to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) categorical exceptions were applicable and found that none of the exceptions provided in Section 15300.2 of the CEQA Guidelines apply as described below:
a. Section 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 on the environment may in a particularly sensitive environment be significant. Therefore, these classes are considered to apply in all instances, except where the project may impact on an environmental resource of hazardous or critical concern where designated, precisely mapped, and officially adopted pursuant to law by federal, state, or local agencies.
Findings: There is no evidence in the record that the Project will impact an environmental resource of hazardous or critical concern in an area designated, precisely mapped, and officially adopted pursuant to law by federal, state, or local agencies. Analysis is provided below.
b. Section 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.
Findings: There is no evidence in the record that successive projects of the same type in the area will have a significant environmental impact. The Project would result in a cumulative lot coverage of approximately 10 percent or 6,110 square feet of land, and is not anticipated to impact sensitive environments, as the Site is already disturbed from previous development activities and neighboring parcels are developed. As the lot size exceeds 10,000 square feet in size (62,727 square feet), under the R-1-10 Zoning District, the maximum lot coverage is allowed is 35 percent. As such, no cumulative impacts are anticipated.
c. Section 15300.2(c): Significant Effect. A categorical exemption shall not be used for an activity where there is a reasonable possibility that the activity will have a significant effect on the environment due to unusual circumstances.
Findings: There is no evidence in the record that there is any reasonable possibility that the project will have a significant on the environment. Generally, a finding of significant impact is found where the project (1) has some unusual circumstances (such as size or location) which distinguishes the project from the categorically exempt class of projects, and (2) it can be shown that due to such unusual circumstances, there is a reasonable possibility of a significant effect on the environment. There is no unusual circumstance applicable to the project. As stated previously, the Site is already disturbed from previous development activities, neighboring parcels are developed, and the proposed total lot coverage is allowed under the CMC. The Site is currently developed and mapped within the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ) ; therefore, as proposed, the Project shall be required to meet all of the conditions of CFC Chapter 49, CBC Chapter 7A and the Residential Code, Section R327 and shall also be subject to additional review and approval by the Fire Department at the time of building or grading permit application.
Per the City of Calistoga’s General Plan, Public Safety Element 2014 Update, new development in Very High and High Fire Hazard Severity Zones is required by state law to utilize fire resistant building materials and provide adequate access for emergency vehicles. California Fire Code Chapter 49 establishes fire safety requirements for new construction in the wildland-urban interface fire area, which have been incorporated into the CMC Chapter 15.36. New construction in these zones is required to adhere to guidelines for defensible space, vegetation management in a fire-safe manner, financial responsibility for maintenance of landscaping and open parcels (forest), and other measures. In addition, a wildfire behavior model is required to specify building setbacks and fire resistive ratings. The Fire Department routinely inspects properties and homes in the Very High Fire Hazard Area to enforce vegetation management requirements and publicizes the chipping program provided by the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, which encourages the removal of dangerous vegetation. The Department is familiar with the locations of all structures in this Area and available access. As such, with conditions incorporated, significant environmental impacts would not occur.
d. Section 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, within 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.
Findings: There is no evidence in the record that the project will result in damage to scenic resources. Napa County does not contain officially designated state scenic highways. While there are portions of highways that have been identified as eligible for listing, Highway 128 which is within the vicinity of the Site has not been officially designated or eligible for listing.
e. Section 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.
Findings: The project site is not listed on any list compiled pursuant to Section 65962.5 of the Government Code. In fact, there are no leaking underground storage tanks (LUST) and Cleanup Program Sites have been identified within a 1,000-foot radius of the project area.
f. Section 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 a historical resource.
Findings: There are no buildings on-site, nor are there any buildings within the vicinity of the Site registered with the Office of Historic Preservation as a California Historical Resource. Since the project area is limited to developed site and there are no buildings on-site or within the vicinity registered as a California Historical Resource, no impacts to any historical resources would occur.
Concluding Findings: Because the Project is consistent with the requirements for a Class 3 categorical exemption pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15303, and because none of the exceptions to application of a categorical exemption provided in CEQA Guidelines Section 15300.2 apply (provided above), there is substantial evidence in the record to support a finding that the Project is categorically exempt from CEQA and an EIR is not required. As such, the Project meets the requirements necessary to qualify for a Class 3 (New Construction of Conversion of Small Structures) categorical exemption under the CEQA Guidelines.
Reasons why project is exempt: The expansion project is exempt under CEQA Guidelines 15303 (New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures) since it includes the conversion of commercial buildings in an urbanized area and the construction of new small structures.