California Cannabis Zoning: Update on the County of San Mateo Case and CEQA

Did San Mateo’s new ordinance moot the CEQA situation?

Final thirty day period, we blogged about the writ petition brought against the County of San Mateo by petitioners who alleged non-compliance with the California Environmental Top quality Act (“CEQA”).

CEQA necessitates environmental overview of discretionary projects to advise the community and govt determination makers of the environmental consequences of their selections. The regulation will have to be interpreted in these way to find the money for the fullest doable security to the natural environment within the acceptable scope of the statutory language. Except exempted, all discretionary projects will have to obtain environmental overview pursuant to CEQA.

Less than CEQA, the “lead agency”—the community company principally dependable for approving a proposed project—is dependable for planning the environmental files for a project, such as any negative declaration or environmental effects report (EIR). If a project is not exempt from CEQA, the guide company will have to put together an preliminary review to figure out no matter if the project will have a significant effects on the natural environment, or skip the preliminary review and perform an EIR if it is clear that an EIR is essential.

The County of San Mateo’s challenged ordinance allowed hashish cultivation matter to ministerial approval of license programs. This usually means there was no deliberation or discretion concerned, and the County could situation licenses around the counter, if an applicant checked all applicable containers.

As we explained in our final write-up, the County issued a negative declaration with the challenged ordinance next an preliminary review, figuring out that there was not considerable proof that the ordinance would have a significant effect on the natural environment. Petitioners disagreed, boasting the record contained considerable proof supporting myriad arguments that the ordinance would adversely effects hydrology and water excellent, sensitive species and habitat, air and light pollution, weather modify, and other effects.

Further more, as ministerial licenses, every single hashish cultivation project less than the challenged ordinance would have been exempt from CEQA and none would require their possess environmental assessment. That point by yourself would seem like an finish-operate about the regulation.

At the finish of February, petitioners and the County held a settlement conference. Soon thereafter, the County repealed and replaced their cultivation ordinance with a single that subjects every single cultivation project to discretionary approval. Now, every single cultivation project will be matter to CEQA except if normally exempt.

MAUCRSA offers a momentary exemption to CEQA to metropolitan areas and counties adopting a hashish ordinance matter to precise ailments.  So extensive as a metropolis or county ordinance necessitates discretionary overview and approval of permits, licenses, or other authorizations to engage in commercial hashish action, and features any applicable environmental overview pursuant to Division 13 of the Community Methods Code, the adoption of the ordinance by itself is exempt from CEQA. Bus. & Prof. Code, § 26055(h). This exemption expires July 1, 2019.

Arguably, the County of San Mateo’s new ordinance is exempt from CEQA pursuant to Business enterprise and Professions Code section 26055(h), and the petition is moot. There are no future hearings on calendar, but the writ petition is nonetheless pending. We will continue to keep you posted on any developments: The viability of San Mateo’s technique could have a significant effects on the technique taken by other nearby jurisdictions with respect to California cannabis licenses.

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