Type, Section or Code
CEQA Guidelines at California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Sections 15060(c), 15061(b)(3), 15378(a), and 15378(b)(4).
Reasons for Exemption
Approval of the Amended MOA is statutorily exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) pursuant to California Government Code Section 12012.92(b)(1)(C) because it is the execution of an intergovernmental agreement between the Tribe and the County negotiated pursuant to the express authority of, or as expressly referenced in, the Tribe’s tribal-state gaming compact and is thus not a project for purposes of CEQA. Alternatively or additionally, the activity is not subject CEQA to pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15060(c) and is not a project pursuant to Section 15378(a), because approving the Amended MOA will not result in a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment, and the County has not committed to any public improvement, has not agreed to provide assistance to the Tribe for its development activities, nor issued any type of entitlement as the County does not have jurisdiction over development on tribal lands. Further, pursuant to Section 15378(b)(4), approval of the MOA is not a project because it establishes a funding mechanism by which the Tribe makes mitigation payments to the County to use for environmental mitigation and social programs and the County retains full discretion to modify or elect not to approve or implement any specific future activity. Additionally or alternatively, the activity is exempt under CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3) (Common Sense Exemption) because it can be seen with certainty there will be no significant impacts caused by the Tribe agreeing to reduce its potential casino and resort development project from an 88,000 sf casino and 600-room hotel with facilities to a limited 60,000 sf casino and 300-room hotel with facilities while agreeing to environmental review, mitigation measures, and various other limitations, including limitations on pursuing a casino on lands near the City of Petaluma, in southern Sonoma County, which might be taken into trust by the federal government for the benefit of the Tribe.