Reasons for Exemption
California Government Code Section 8698.4 provides guidance as to how CEQA will be applied to certain subsequent actions after a shelter crisis is declared. Specifically, Section 8698.4(a)(4) states that if a subsequent action is proposed consistent with the shelter crisis declaration, then:
“The California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) shall not apply to actions taken by a state agency or a city, county, or city and county, to lease, convey, or encumber land owned by a city, county, or city and county, or to facilitate the lease, conveyance, or encumbrance of land owned by the local government for, or to provide financial assistance to, a homeless shelter constructed or allowed by this section.”
The provision of funds to acquire the site and subsequent financial assistance to construct the Safe Stay community at the site is an action covered by California Government Code Section 8698.4(a)(4)
Further, CEQA Guidelines Section 15269 provides procedural guidance on the treatment of projects under CEQA that are deemed to be an emergency. Section 15269(c) states that the following emergency projects are exempt from the requirements of CEQA:
“Specific actions necessary to prevent or mitigate an emergency. This does not include long-term projects undertaken for the purpose of preventing or mitigating a situation that has a low probability of occurrence in the short-term, but this exclusion does not apply (i) if the anticipated period of time to conduct an environmental review of such a long-term project would create a risk to public health, safety or welfare, or (ii) if activities (such as fire or catastrophic risk mitigation or modifications to improve facility integrity) are proposed for existing facilities in response to an emergency at similar existing facility.”
The Project consists of the County purchase of an existing facility for emergency housing in response to the shelter crisis declaration, which proclaimed the lack of shelter available for persons experiencing homelessness results in a threat to their public health, safety and welfare. This Project will prevent or mitigate the emergency created by the shelter crisis. Therefore, the project is statutorily exempt from the provisions of CEQA per California Government Code Section 8698.4(a)(4) and CEQA Guidelines Section 15269(c).
Per Section 15062 of the CEQA Guidelines, once a lead agency determines that a project is exempt (Statutorily or Categorically) from the provisions of CEQA, and the lead agency takes action on the project, the lead agency may file a NOE.