A. Project Application. A project applicant shall submit a completed project application and an environmental questionnaire on approved forms provided by the Planning Department.
B. Preliminary Determination. Upon receipt of an application by the lead county agency for approval of a project or a proposal for a public project, a copy of the application or proposal and the environmental questionnaire shall be forwarded to the Planning Director. The Planning Director shall make a preliminary determination and report the same to the lead county agency.
C. Preparation of the Initial Study. Unless the Planning Director determines that the project is not subject to CEQA or is exempt, he shall conduct or cause to be conducted an initial study to determine whether the project may have a significant effect on the environment. Appendix G of the guidelines shall serve as a guide for preparation of the initial study. All phases of project planning, implementation, and operation must be considered in the initial study of the project. Upon completion of an initial study, the Planning Director shall determine in writing whether a negative declaration or an EIR shall be prepared. Such determination and a copy of the initial study shall be furnished to the applicant within the time limits required by the Permit Streamlining Act and Guidelines Sections 15102, 15107, 15108. An initial study need not be prepared if the Planning Director determines that it is evident that an EIR must be prepared.
D. Submission of Data. The Planning Director may require the project applicant to furnish such data and information as the Planning Director determines to be necessary to make a preliminary determination as to whether the project may have a significant effect on the environment and/or to assist in the preparation of an EIR. The Planning Director may require the applicant to submit any additional data, including economic and social data, which the Planning Director determines to be relevant.
E. Mitigation. Upon a determination that an EIR shall be prepared, the applicant may submit proposed changes in the project to mitigate potential adverse effects disclosed by the initial study or other information.
F. Negative Declaration. The Planning Director shall prepare a negative declaration if he determines that:
1. There is no substantial evidence that a project may have a significant environmental effect; or
2. Revisions in a project plan or proposal made by or agreed to by the applicant would avoid the effects or mitigate the effects to a point where no significant effects would accrue.
G. Mitigation Monitoring Plan. A mitigation monitoring plan shall be adopted when required by CEQA.
H. Public Notice and Review – Negative Declaration. If the Planning Director determines to prepare a negative declaration, public notice and review of the negative declaration shall not be less than 20 days. Public notice and review shall not be less than 30 days if state clearinghouse review is required. (Guidelines Sections 15072 and 15073)
I. Negative Declaration – Completion. Upon completion of a proposed negative declaration and after notice and public review as required herein, the proposed negative declaration may be transmitted to the Planning Commission for a public hearing. The Planning Director shall give notice of the hearing as required in SCC 20.05.110. If the project requires administrative approval, then the Planning Director will serve as the decision-making body and certify said negative declaration.
J. Negative Declaration – Planning Commission Action.
1. Decision-Making Body. Where the Planning Commission is the decision-making body and has the authority for final approval, the Commission shall review, consider, and certify the adequacy of a proposed negative declaration. In such cases, the Commission shall approve and certify or disapprove the proposed negative declaration before taking action on the project. Such Planning Commission actions are subject to appeal before the Board of Supervisors. (See SCC 38.05.100.)
2. Advisory Body to the Board. Where the Planning Commission is an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors and does not have the authority for final approval, it shall review, consider and prepare recommendations as to the adequacy of a proposed negative declaration, in draft or final form. The Planning Commission shall report its recommendation in writing to the Board of Supervisors.
K. Negative Declaration – Board of Supervisors Action. Where a proposed negative declaration is forwarded to the Board of Supervisors pursuant to subsection (J)(2) of this section, the Board may conduct a public hearing with the same public notice and in the same manner as provided for the Planning Commission hearing. Said public hearing is limited to new information not previously contained in the proposed negative declaration reviewed by the Planning Commission. After the Board of Supervisors completes the public hearing, it may accept, modify or disapprove the recommendation of the Planning Commission. The Board shall approve and certify or disapprove the negative declaration before taking action on the project. If it disapproves the negative declaration, it shall continue consideration of the project and require that additional information be provided, or require an EIR to be prepared.
L. Notice of Determination. After the Planning Director, Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors has made a final decision to carry out or approve a project for which a negative declaration has been certified, a notice of determination shall be filed in accordance with Guidelines Section 15075 by the Planning Director. The notice of determination shall be filed with the County Clerk no later than five days following approval of the project. Said notice shall be posted in the County Clerk’s Office for 30 days. (Formerly 38.06)