By Beverly Lane:
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts. Another key purpose of CEQA is to inform the public about the effects of such actions.
CEQA is the cornerstone of California’s environmental protection efforts. It was signed into law in 1970 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, and has been a model for other states and even for some changes in federal law. Under the law, a project that will have a significant effect on the environment is subject to an environmental impact report.
Members of the public can comment on that report, and government agencies preparing the report must respond to those comments. Once the impacts are identified – they can range from traffic congestion to public health problems and damage to the environment – the project proponents must take steps to mitigate those impacts.
The East Bay Regional Park District must comply with CEQA on all of our projects. Typically we prepare either a negative declaration or an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It takes about one year to prepare and process a declaration, and an EIR takes two years. It’s a significant commitment of staff time and financial resources that must be conducted before park facilities can be constructed and new parks opened or expanded.
Because we are in the business of protecting the environment, most of the CEQA documents prepared by the Park District provide helpful information for the EBRPD Board of Directors. Discussions about amending CEQA in the state legislature will be examined by us very closely indeed.
More information about East Bay Regional Park District trails, parks and projects is online at www.ebparks.org.
Beverly Lane is a member of the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors. Her ward includes Central Contra Costa County from San Ramon through Concord and Pleasant Hill through Clayton.