Chapter 8.34


8.34.010    Adoption.

8.34.020    Administration.

8.34.030    Fees.

8.34.040    Environmental document preparation.

8.34.050    Time limits and public notice.

8.34.060    Summary of the procedure.

8.34.070    Environmental review requirements.

8.34.080    Submission and filing of project proposals and applications.

8.34.090    Lead agency determination.

8.34.100    Environmental review where city is not lead agency.

8.34.110    Environmental questionnaire.

8.34.120    Exemptions.

8.34.130    Initial study.

8.34.140    Preliminary consultations and decisions.

8.34.150    Negative declaration.

8.34.160    Preparation of EIR.

8.34.170    Notice of determination.

8.34.180    Initial determination of exemption.

8.34.190    Projects with no environmental impact.

8.34.200    Ministerial projects.

8.34.210    Categorical exemptions.

8.34.220    Exceptions to categorical exemptions.

8.34.230    Feasibility and planning studies.

8.34.240    Emergency projects.

8.34.250    Effect of exemption.

8.34.260    Filing notice of exemption.

8.34.270    Environmental document preparation.

8.34.280    Coordination.

8.34.290    Public agencies consultation.

8.34.300    Forms.

8.34.310    Non-acceptance/appeal.

8.34.320    Validity of actions.

8.34.010 Adoption.

Pursuant to Section 15050, Title 14 of the California Administrative Code, the city of Capitola hereby adopts by reference the State CEQA Guidelines (Title 14 of the California Administrative Code, Section 15000 et seq.). In case of conflict between the State CEQA Guidelines and this chapter, the State CEQA Guidelines shall prevail. The purpose of the procedures set forth in this chapter are, in the words of State CEQA Guideline Section 15050(f) “... to tailor the general provisions of the guidelines to the specific operations of the agency.” (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.020 Administration.

A. The city manager or designated representative shall be the administrator of environmental quality, hereafter referred to as “administrator.” He or she shall perform those duties that are enumerated for the administrator in these procedures. The administrator shall have those functions listed in State CEQA Guideline Section 15055(a), namely:

1. Determination of whether a project is exempt;

2. Conduct of an initial study;

3. Preparation of a negative declaration or EIR;

4. Determination that a negative declaration has been completed within a period of one hundred five days;

5. Preparation of responses to public comments;

6. Certification that the decision-making body has reviewed and considered an EIR or negative declaration;

7. Filing of notices.

B. The city’s decision-making body for a particular project (the body which has the authority to finally approve or disapprove the project) shall perform the following functions:

1. Review and consideration of a final EIR or negative declaration prior to approving a project;

2. The making of findings as required by State CEQA Guideline Sections 15088 and 15089.

C. Where an advisory body such as the planning commission is required to make a recommendation on a project to the decision-making body, the advisory body shall also review and consider the EIR or negative declaration. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.030 Fees.

The administrator shall charge and receive such fees, costs, and charges for services required herein as shall be set by resolution of the city council. Actual cost of EIR preparation shall be paid by nongovernmental applicants. When the city contracts with consultants to prepare an EIR for a private project, the city will consult with the applicant in the process of negotiating the consultant’s contractual fee. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.040 Environmental document preparation.

The responsibility for preparation of environmental documents shall be as follows:

A. Projects Carried Out by the City. When the city plans to carry out a project which is subject to CEQA, the environmental documents for the project shall be prepared directly by, or under contract to, the city and the administrator shall direct the preparation of such documents.

B. Projects Carried Out by Persons Other Than City. Where a project which is subject to CEQA is to be carried out by a person or organization other than a city agency, subject to the approval, financial support, or some other involvement by the city, the environmental documents shall be prepared directly by, or under contract to, the city.

The administrator shall direct the preparation of such documents. However, the city may require the person to supply data and information, both to determine whether the project may have a significant effect on the environment and to assist in the preparation of an EIR or negative declaration by the city. The administrator may require or permit this information to be submitted in the form of a draft EIR. If information is provided in the form of a draft EIR or initial study, the city may not use the document as its own without independent evaluation and analysis. The draft EIR or negative declaration which is sent out for public review must reflect the independent judgment of the administrator and his or her staff.

C. Responsibility for Review of EIRs Received from Other Public Agencies. All such EIRs received by the city shall be referred to the administrator, who shall develop procedures for their review consistent with guideline requirements. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.050 Time limits and public notice.

In addition to the time limits and public notice requirements of State CEQA Guidelines, public notice for negative declarations should be given at the time of the notice of project review or at least seven days before decision on the project. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.060 Summary of the procedure.

Sections 8.34.070 through 8.34.160 provide a brief summary of environmental review procedure to enable the reader of the municipal code to gain a general idea of that process without having to make a detailed reading of the State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.070 Environmental review requirements.

Every project proposed to be carried out, funded, or approved by the city is subject to environmental review as provided in this chapter. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.080 Submission and filing of project proposals and applications.

Every application for project approval shall be submitted to the administrator for environmental review. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.090 Lead agency determination.

After receiving such application or proposal, the administrator shall first determine whether the city is the lead agency according to State CEQA Guidelines. In most cases, the city will be the lead agency. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.100 Environmental review where city is not lead agency.

In cases where the city is a responsible agency with respect to a certain project, but not the lead agency, the city shall comply with all other requirements imposed upon responsible agencies by CEQA or the State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.110 Environmental questionnaire.

A. Requirement. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, the applicant or the city agency making a proposal for a project to be carried out, funded, or approved by the city, where the city is the lead agency, shall submit a completed environmental questionnaire to the administrator.

B. Exception. An environmental questionnaire shall not be required for ministerial projects or for projects where the administrator can determine, on the basis of the application or proposal alone, that the project is clearly exempt from the requirements of CEQA. In these cases, no further review shall be required for the project, unless changed circumstances occur which require environmental review. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.120 Exemptions.

After receiving the application or proposal, together with the completed environmental questionnaire, the administrator shall determine whether the project is exempt from the requirements of CEQA. See Article 5 of State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.130 Initial study.

If the project is not exempt the administrator shall then determine whether an initial study is required or should be prepared. The administrator shall direct the preparation of an initial study when it is required or appropriate. See Article 5 of State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.140 Preliminary consultations and decisions.

Preliminary consultations with the appropriate public agencies shall be held, before deciding which environmental documents to prepare, and the decision to prepare such documents shall then be made in a timely manner. See Article 5 of State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.150 Negative declaration.

If it is determined as, a result of the initial study that the project will have no significant adverse impact on the environment, a negative declaration shall be prepared. See Article 6 of State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.160 Preparation of EIR.

If at any time prior to final approval of the project, it is determined that the project may have a significant adverse impact on the environment, then an EIR shall be prepared. See Articles 7 and 9 of State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.170 Notice of determination.

After an approval of the project for which either a negative declaration or an EIR has been prepared, a notice of determination shall be filed with the county clerk. See Articles 6 and 7 of State CEQA Guidelines. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.180 Initial determination of exemption.

Whenever an applicant files for approval of any project, and whenever the city or any of its departments decides to proceed with the planning of any project, the administrator shall first determine whether the project is exempt from the requirements of CEQA, as provided in this chapter. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.190 Projects with no environmental impact.

Where the administrator can determine with certainty that there is no possibility that the proposed project or activity may have a significant environmental impact, the project is exempt from further CEQA requirements. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.200 Ministerial projects.

Ministerial projects are exempt and do not require the preparation of environmental impact documents. The following actions, in most cases, will be ministerial in nature:

A. Issuance of building permits;

B. Issuance of business licenses;

C. Approval of final subdivision maps;

D. Approval of individual utility service connections and disconnections. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.210 Categorical exemptions.

In response to the mandate of Section 21084 of the Public Resources Code, the secretary for resources has found that certain classes of projects do not have a significant effect on the environment and has declared them to be categorically exempt from the requirements for the preparation of environmental documents. Those classes of projects are listed in Article 19 of the State CEQA Guidelines and are adopted by the city by reference. If the administrator determines that a project is not a ministerial project he or she shall then determine whether the project comes within one of the categorical exemptions. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.220 Exceptions to categorical exemptions.

A. Location. Class 3, 4, 5, 6 and 11 are qualified by consideration of where the project is to be located, a project that is ordinarily insignificant in its impact on the environment may in a particularly sensitive environment be significant. Therefore, these classes are considered to apply in all instances, except where the project may have an impact on an environmental resource of hazardous or critical concern where designated, precisely mapped and officially adopted pursuant to law by federal, state or local agencies.

B. Cumulative Impact. The categorical exemptions for all classes are inapplicable when the cumulative impact of successive project of the same type in the same place is significant, for example, annual additions to an existing building under Class I. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.230 Feasibility and planning studies.

A project involving only feasibility or planning studies for possible future action, where the city has not approved, adopted, or funded such future action, does not require the preparation of environmental documents, but does require consideration of environmental factors as required by Section 21102 of CEQA. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.240 Emergency projects.

The following emergency projects are exempt from the environmental document requirements of CEQA.

A. Projects undertaken, carried out, or approved by a public agency to maintain, repair, restore, demolish, or replace property or facilities damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster in a disaster stricken area in which a state of emergency has been proclaimed by the Governor pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 8550) of Division I, Title 2 of the Government Code;

B. Emergency repairs to public service facilities necessary to maintain service;

C. Projects undertaken as immediate action necessary to prevent or mitigate an emergency. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.250 Effect of exemption.

If the administrator determines that a project is exempt as provided above, the project shall not be subject to the environmental document requirements of CEQA. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.260 Filing notice of exemption.

At any time after the city has approved or determined to carry out a project which has been determined to be exempt, as provided above, a notice of exemption may be filed with the county clerk of the county or counties in which the project will be located. Such notice may be filed by the city or by the applicant. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.270 Environmental document preparation.

State CEQA Guidelines regarding content, preparation and review of initial studies, negative declarations and environmental impact reports will be followed. They are not summarized herein (see Articles 5, 6, and 7 of State CEQA Guidelines). (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.280 Coordination.

Coordination of all city departments is necessary for successful implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970. In administering protection of the environmental qualities of the city, careful consideration must be given to the effect on all other resources and activities. The object will be to cause the least possible conflict with other uses and activities while making full and proper provision for preservation of environmental qualities. Other city departments should give environmental needs equal consideration.

Respective departments which have authority to issue permits for private projects and authority to carry out public projects shall work with the administrator in the preparation of environmental documents on such projects. The administrator shall consult with the respective departments during the preparation of environmental documents, and shall review the appropriate environmental documents when they have been completed. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.290 Public agencies consultation.

The following public agencies should be considered in preparing environmental documents:

State Clearing House


Coastal Commission

Regional Water Quality Control Board

State Air Resources Control Board


California Department of Fish and Game

California Department of Parks and Recreation

California Department of Housing and Community Development

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

State Department of Health

Santa Cruz County planning department

Santa Cruz County zone 5 drainage district

Central Santa Cruz County fire protection district

Capitola fire protection district

Santa Cruz County sanitation district

Soquel Creek water district

Santa Cruz City water department

Santa Cruz community parks and recreation

Others as called for. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.300 Forms.

The administrator may from time to time designate and revise the city’s various CEQA forms, including but not limited to, notice of completion, notice of determination, notice of exemption. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.310 Non-acceptance/appeal.

A. The following decisions of the administrator are not appealable:

1. A determination of whether a project is exempt;

2. A determination that an initial study is required;

3. A determination that an applicant has not submitted all necessary information.

B. When a city decision-making body, pursuant to State CEQA Guideline Section 15055(b)(1), reviews and considers a final EIR or a negative declaration and finds that the EIR, the initial study, or the negative declaration is inadequate in any significant respect, the decision-making body shall return the item to either staff or the consultant who prepared the document with directions concerning the portions requiring revision.

C. Whenever the authority of one decision-making body as to whether to approve or disapprove a project is appealable to another city decision-making body, all CEQA decisions made by the initial decision-making body shall also be appealable in the manner set forth in Chapter 2.56. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)

8.34.320 Validity of actions.

If any of the provisions of this chapter are more restrictive than state requirements or otherwise differ from state requirements, then city provisions shall be construed as directory and not mandatory; and no action shall be invalidated for failure to comply with city procedures if the action is otherwise taken in compliance with state law. (Ord. 555 § 2, 1984)