Reasons for Exemption
The purchase of the Property is categorically exempt from CEQA pursuant to 14 California Code of Regulations section 15313 (a) and (c) because it is the acquisition of land for conservation purposes, including preservation of fish and wildlife habitat and preserving access to public lands and waters where the purpose of the acquisition is to preserve the land in its natural condition. In addition, the purchase of the Property is categorically exempt pursuant to Section 15325(a) and (f), which exempt the transfers of ownership of interests in land in order to preserve the existing natural conditions, including plant or animal habitats and to preserve open space or lands for park purposes.
The continued availability of the Property for public day use and a commercial equestrian facility is exempt pursuant to CEQA Guidelines § 15301 (c) ("Class 1 "), which identifies exemptions for the operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, involving negligible or no expansion of use, beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency's determination.
The project (the acquisition of the Property and the continuance of existing recreational uses) does not include any of the exceptions applicable to Class 1 exemptions listed in CEQA Guidelines §15300.2, which would disallow use of a categorical exemption. Those exceptions are:
• The cumulative impact of the project and successive projects of the same type in the same place, over time is significant.
• The project will adversely affect a scenic highway or other scenic resources.
• The project site is located on a hazardous waste site listed pursuant to Government Code Section 65962.5 (i.e. Cortese List).
• The project may cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historical resource.
• There is a reasonable possibility that the project would result in a significant adverse impact due to unusual circumstances.
None of these exceptions apply to the proposed project exemption. Staff believes this project qualifies for CEQA Guidelines §15301(c), 15313(a) and (c) and 15325(a) and (f) because it is the acquisition of land for conservation purposes and the leasing, licensing, and minor alteration of existing structures and facilities that support public access to the Property. Therefore, preparation of a CEQA Initial Study is not required.