Reasons for Exemption
The proposed Project has been determined to be categorically exempt from CEQA, as set forth pursuant to State CEQA Guidelines Section 15182(c) (Residential Projects Pursuant to a Specific Plan). Where a public agency has prepared an EIR on a Specific Plan, a residential project undertaken pursuant to and in conformity with that specific plan is exempt from CEQA if the project meets the following requirements:
1. Eligibility. To qualify for this exemption the public agency must have prepared an EIR on a specific plan after January 1, 1980, and the residential project undertaken must be pursuant to and in conformity to that specific plan.
EIR No. 531 (EIR531) was certified, and Specific Plan No. 382 was concurrently adopted on November 19, 2014, by the Board of Supervisors. The proposed Project meets this requirement. In addition, the Project is within Planning Area 2 of the Belle Terre Specific Plan (SP382), which designates a General Plan Foundational Component of Community Development (CD) and a Land Use Designation of High Density Residential (HDR). The HDR land use designation allows for detached, small lot single family and attached single family homes, patio homes, zero lot line homes, multi-family apartments, duplexes, and townhouses at a density range of 8.0 to 14.0 dwelling units per acre. The Project proposes the construction of 157 units over 11.67 gross acres, which would equate to approximately 13.5 units per an acre. Therefore, the Project is pursuant to and in conformity with the intent of development set by the Specific Plan for this Planning Area.
2. Scope. Residential projects covered by this section include but are not limited to land subdivisions, zoning changes, and residential planned unit development.
Specific Plan No. 382 (SP382) established a 342.3-acre residential community development in the French Valley Area of Riverside County. The proposed Project is for the development of one hundred fifty-seven condominium units within Planning Area 2 of SP382. As the land use designation is High Density Residential (HDR), the Project would not change the type of useand density set for Planning Area 2; a high-density housing type, such as condominiums, would be anticipated. The standards for density are 8 to 14 dwelling units per an acre. The current Project scope proposes 157 dwelling units, which equates to approximately 13.5 dwelling units per acre. The number of units anticipated for this Planning Area at the time of the creation of SP382 was 163 dwelling units. As the Project is proposing less units than was anticipated for this Planning Area, the overall impacts would either remain the same or can be anticipated to be less than those that were set forth by the EIR. Therefore, the proposed Project meets this requirement.
3. Limitation. This section is subject to the limitation that a specific plan undergoes an event, such as, but not limited to: a substantial change to the proposed project is made that requires major revisions of the previous EIR; new circumstances under which the project is undertaken that will require major revisions to the previous EIR; or new information has been found resulting in new significant effects or increasing the severity of a significant effect that were not known at the time of the previous EIR. Should one or more of these events occur, this exemption shall not apply until the city or county which adopted the specific plan completes a subsequent EIR or supplement to a previous EIR on the specific plan. The exemption provided by this section shall again be available to residential projects after the lead agency has file a Notice of Determination of the specific plan as reconsidered by the subsequent EIR or supplement to the EIR.
The proposed Project would not result in any new significant impacts to the physical environment that were not already disclosed in the EIR, nor would it result in substantial increases in the severity of the environmental impacts previously disclosed in the EIR. As noted previously, the Specific Plan has been subjected to a reduction in total dwelling units from 1,282 to 856, which would generally result in a reduction in impacts from those analyzed in EIR No. 531. In addition, no event has occurred that has required a subsequent EIR or supplemental EIR. The land use designation and zoning ordinance set forth by SP382 for the Planning Area that the Project is located within remains the same. The density proposed also falls within the scope analyzed within EIR531 for the Planning Area. As such, there is not a substantial change to the analyzed impacts or the circumstance under which the Project is being undertaken that would require major revisions to the previous EIR. In addition, during the review of the Project by the various County Departments for compliance with development standards, there has not been new information found resulting in new significant effects or increasing the severity of a significant effect that were not known at the time of the previous EIR. Changes in law have occurred since the certification of the previous EIR that have resulted in more environmentally protective rules and regulations (e.g., increased energy efficiency, water conservation, fuel efficiency, etc.) to which the Project would be required to comply. Compliance with modern rules and regulations would result in decreased impacts to the environment as compared to what was assumed, evaluated, and disclosed by the previous EIR. Since the overall density is not increasing, the anticipated product is not changing, and the intensity of the use will not increase, the Project meets this requirement.