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Planning without a Mini-NEPA

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
947
Points
20
Folks who have moved from states regulated by a mini-NEPA (CEQA, SEQRA, etc) to states with no comprehensive environmental review regime - how did you make this transition? How do you plan in a world where Neg Decs and Preferred Alternatives no longer exist? For states governed by these processes, EIR is such an integral part of planning in those states that to plan without it feels like groping in the dark through development review. Site plan standards can capture some of what an EIR looks for, but your typical small town or city's land use code is nowhere near as comprehensive as what NEPA requires. NEPA standards are exhaustive, and thorough, and ultimately highly useful for the sake of disclosure and warding off process-based lawsuits.

I'm curious to hear the the thoughts of practitioners who have moved between states and have had to either learn to plan in a NEPA environment, or un-learn to do so when exiting such a state.
 

terraplnr

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
I don't have experience going from one scenario to another, but I live/work in California so have wondered about this. We do sometimes require a lot of technical information/studies to ensure policy consistency so a lot of the information would be obtained regardless. But the environmental review process does consider potential impacts that aren't addressed in policy.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,655
Points
23
I moved from a state with strict regulations (probably 35% of planning actions required at least an EAF) to a state with MUCH less strict regulations. It was certainly a challenge at first but eventually I got used to it. Adding stricter municipal regulations can help. My last community recently passed stormwater regulations which at least forced developers to consider and mitigate more actions.
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
Messages
1,386
Points
18
I don't have experience going from one scenario to another, but I live/work in California so have wondered about this. We do sometimes require a lot of technical information/studies to ensure policy consistency so a lot of the information would be obtained regardless. But the environmental review process does consider potential impacts that aren't addressed in policy.
In California too. As a former CEQA-specific practitioner (but still very much involved with CEQA for development review), I do wonder what it is like to be in a state without that process.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
14,188
Points
48
In California too. As a former CEQA-specific practitioner (but still very much involved with CEQA for development review), I do wonder what it is like to be in a state without that process.
I imagine it's much easier to get things done.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,308
Points
49
Nope. Sorry, haven't had to deal with that.
Me too. I've worked in IL and OH, so far and neither State has statewide similar requirements and none of the munis I've worked for so far have them in their own codes.

I think the presumption in my experience, is that the legislative process to specifically zone parts of a muni meets the needs of what would typically be included in a mini-NEPA process.

So, the development of specific property/acreage within specific zoning and development review processes of the individual muni's code determines the scale and extent of information and data needed to grant approval at the local level.

From what I've gleaned over the years from NY and CA planners, I would think moving into a state where mini-NEPAs are common would be much more of a culture shock than the reverse.
 
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Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,022
Points
31
CEQA is hardly "mini-NEPA" - it's more burdensome. A few years back I was part of a team conducting some training in California for Federal grantees on how to gather initial environmental information to provide to the agency as part of their grant application. And, after every session we were asked "hey, you didn't tell us how to track down x, y, and z - where do we find that information?" Our response was "that's above and beyond NEPA, and immaterial to your grant application - go ask your state agency folks why the hell they're asking you for that information."

The state government folks that got yelled at immediately afterwards really didn't like us for some strange reason...
 
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MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
947
Points
20
CEQA is hardly "mini-NEPA" - it's more burdensome.
That's the point. Any state, or municipality within a given state for those states that have adopted an EIR statute, can adopt a localized version of NEPA that is as strict or stricter than the Federal statute. And let me tell you, having come from a career spent operating under an EIR regime to one without anything of the sort, it frequently produces better planning outcomes than would be the case otherwise.
 
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