Reasons for Exemption
The Spring Street Station Transit-Oriented Development is not a “project” subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality (“CEQA”), Public Resources Code section 21000 et seq. and its implementing regulations, Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, section 15000 et seq. (“State CEQA Guidelines”).
The development satisfies the criteria in Government Code section 65913.4 (commonly known as SB 35) for streamlined ministerial processing by the City of La Mesa, the land use authority for the development. The California Department of Housing and Community Development has determined that the City of La Mesa is a locality subject to Government Code section 65913.4’s streamlined, ministerial processing, and all the development’s rental units (except for two staff units) will be restricted to lower income households for a period of 55 years. Actions that are not a “project” under CEQA or are deemed ministerial approvals do not trigger CEQA review. (State CEQA Guidelines, §§ 15268, 15378.) Likewise, because MTS’s execution of the DDA and implementation of actions necessary to fulfill its obligations under the DDA, including but not limited to execution of a Ground Lease and related regulatory agreements for the development, does not provide MTS with the discretion or authority to address any environmental effects of the development, these actions do not trigger CEQA review.
Even if the development were not deemed ministerial, however, it is categorially exempt from CEQA review under State CEQA Guidelines section 15332 (Class 32) because it is in-fill development that (a) is consistent with the applicable general plan designation and applicable general plan policies as well as with applicable zoning designation and regulations; (b) occurs within city limits on a project site of no more than five acres substantially surrounded by urban uses; (c) is located on a project site that has no value as habitat for endangered, rare or threatened species; (d) would not result in any significant effects related to traffic, noise, air quality, or water quality; and (e) is located on a site that can be adequately served by all required utilities and public services.
None of exceptions to the categorical exemptions in State CEQA Guidelines section 15300.2 apply. The development is not located in a sensitive environment as the development impact area is within disturbed areas of the site. The cumulative impact of successive projects of the same types in the same place over time would not be significant because the development is limited in size, scope, and distance from any adjacent development and there are no reasonably foreseeable projects that would result in cumulative impacts with the development. Additionally, the development does not involve any unusual circumstances. The development’s circumstances would not differ significantly from the circumstances typical of the class of projects covered by the Class 32 exemption. Accordingly, there is no reasonable possibility the development would have a significant effect on the environment due to unusual circumstances. Further, the development is not located within a scenic highway and would not result in damage to any scenic resources; is not located on a site designated pursuant to Government Code 65962.5 (hazardous waste site); and the development does not involve any improvements, modifications, or other changes to an historical resource.