Hearing Procedures Environmental Review Officer
Hearing to Adopt Mitigation Measures
Public Resources Code section 21083.3 and CEQA Guidelines section 15183(e)(2) provide that projects consistent with the development density established by existing zoning, community plan or general plan policies for which an environmental impact report was certified, shall not be subject to additional environmental review, except as might be necessary to examine whether there are project-specific significant effects which are peculiar to the project or its site. For projects meeting the criteria, the environmental review consists of a community plan evaluation (CPE) that tiers off of a certified programmatic EIR (PEIR) for the relevant community plan, including any applicable mitigation measures identified in a project-specific mitigation monitoring and reporting program (MMRP).
For projects reviewed under a CPE, Public Resources Code 21083.3(c) and CEQA Guidelines section 15183(e)(2) require that the lead agency make a finding at a public hearing that feasible mitigation measures from the PEIR will be undertaken as part of the project. In San Francisco, many projects eligible for a CPE already require a hearing before the Planning Commission, and the required CEQA findings, including adoption of the MMRP, are made as part of the Commission’s approval motion. For these projects the applicable mitigation measures, and MMRP are adopted at the Planning Commission hearing. However, when the project is approved through the Planning Department’s approval of a building permit, there is no public hearing before the Planning Commission.
In such cases, the Environmental Review Officer (ERO), or their designee, will hold a public hearing to make findings that the applicable feasible mitigation measures will be undertaken, in accordance with the requirements of Public Resource Code 21083.3(c) and CEQA Guidelines section 15183(e)(2). Please note that programmatic mitigation measures from a PEIR are considered standard measures that have been determined applicable to the project through project-level environmental analysis. Prior to publication of a CPE, the project sponsor for the project must agree to implement the mitigation measures that the department has determined to be applicable to the project.
The CPE, including a CPE initial study checklist and MMRP, are available on the Planning Department’s Environmental Review CEQA documents web page for CPEs at the time of publication, and at least one week prior to the Mitigation Measures Adoption Hearing.
Members of the public who cannot attend a hearing may submit comments in writing or by telephone to the staff planner listed on the notification before such hearing.
What to Expect at an ERO Mitigation Measures Adoption Hearing
The purpose of the hearing is for the ERO to make findings that feasible programmatic mitigation measures in the project specific MMRP (and CPE) will be undertaken by the project. To ensure this, the ERO will consider the findings to adopt feasible mitigation measures, thereby incorporating them into the conditions of project approval. This process is routine and will be considered on consent without separate discussion of consent items unless the ERO, member of the public or staff so requests, in which event the matter will be removed from the Consent Calendar and moved to the Regular Calendar in the Agenda.
At a Mitigation Measures Adoption hearing, the Environmental Review Officer will preside over general proceedings, as follows:
- The ERO, or a designee, will read the case numbers under the Consent Calendar and the project names/addresses.
- Members of the public will be given up to 3 minutes each to speak on whether any items should be removed from the Consent Calendar. If an item is removed from the Consent Calendar, the item will be heard on the regular calendar (see below). The ERO may continue with other items on the consent calendar
- Following any public comments, the ERO may adopt the agenda items on the Consent Calendar, meaning that the project-specific mitigation measures will be adopted for each of the projects listed on the agenda
- For each item on the regular calendar, the Environmental Review Officer will call the item.
- The project sponsor will be given up to 3 minutes to speak, if desired.
- Members of the public will be given up to 3 minutes each to speak on the item, ie. regarding feasible mitigation measures from the PEIR to be undertaken by the project.
- The ERO may question staff and/or other speakers.
- In consideration of all of the testimony submitted and evidence in the record,1 the ERO may: make a finding that feasible mitigation measures will be undertaken as part of the project and adopt, or conditionally adopt the proposed mitigation measures; continue the matter to a subsequent hearing; or take the matter under advisement pending further discussion between the commenter and the planning department regarding issues raised in the hearing.
- Should the ERO find that in consideration of testimony made and all documents in the case file, the applicable feasible mitigation measures will be undertaken as part of the project, the Environmental Review Officer shall make such finding and adopt the feasible mitigation measures.
The hearing will be adjourned. The results of the hearing shall be available on the Department’s website.
The mitigation measures in the project specific MMRP are available through the link on the ERO Hearing agenda. The Planning Department oversees the implementation of mitigation measures during the permit review process, construction, and subsequent operation, as applicable.
Personal information that is provided in communications to the Planning Department is subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act and the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance. Personal information provided will not be redacted.
Members of the public are not required to provide personal identifying information when they communicate with the Planning Department and its commissions. All written or oral communications that members of the public submit to the Department regarding projects or hearings will be made available to all members of the public for inspection and copying. The Department does not redact any information from these submissions. This means that personal information including names, phone numbers, addresses and similar information that a member of the public elects to submit to the Department and its commissions may appear on the Department’s website or in other public documents that members of the public may inspect or copy.