What is CEQA?

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The San Francisco Planning Department (San Francisco Planning) reviews projects for potential environmental impacts. This is CEQA (pronounced “SEE-kwuh”), which stands for the California Environmental Quality Act, a state law created in 1970.

In San Francisco, San Francisco Planning informs the public of many types of environmental impacts, including impacts on air quality, noise, wind, shadow, transportation and other topics.

The Basic Goals of CEQA
  • Inform decision makers and the public about the potential significant environment impacts

  • Prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes to a project

  • Identify the ways that the environmental damage can be avoided or reduced

  • Disclose to the public the reasons why decisions are made if significant impacts occur

Who is involved?
  • San Francisco Planning is responsible for conducting environmental review in the city.

  • Various stakeholders including the public

  • City decision makers

  • Government or private project sponsors (person/group proposing the change)

When is CEQA done?

Environmental review is not an approval of a project, but it must be complete before city decision makers determine whether or not to approve a project that could impact the environment. Example projects include:

  • Public or private projects

  • Board of Supervisors legislation

  • Allocation of public funding to projects

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