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Governor Extends Suspension of Certain CEQA Noticing Requirements


In response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom on September 23, 2020, issued Executive Order (EO) N-80-20,  which, among other things, extends the suspension of certain filing, posting, noticing, and public access requirements for projects under review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The suspensions were originally enacted on April 22, 2020, for a period of 60 days as directed by EO N-54-20.

Because not all county clerk offices are open for regular business during the pandemic, EO N-54-20 provided an alternate path for accepting filings and posting notices, specifically notices of exemption, notices of preparation of environmental impact reports (EIRs), notices of intent to adopt negative declarations and mitigated negative declarations, notices of availability of draft EIRs, and notices of determination. In such cases, agencies and applicants had the option of taking all of the following actions in lieu of requirements otherwise required by CEQA:

  • Post notices on the lead or responsible agency’s website for the same length of time required for physical posting.
  • Submit all notices to the State Clearinghouse’s CEQAnet web portal.
  • Perform public noticing and outreach to all interested parties as required by CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines (e.g., CEQA Guidelines Section 15087(a), providing notice to all who request it in writing).

Although lead and responsible agencies and applicants are encouraged to use any other available and appropriate methods of public notice, including email and telephone, they are not required to do so.

EO N-80-20 suspends the normal filing and noticing requirements listed above until the EO is modified or rescinded, or until the state of emergency is terminated, whichever occurs sooner. Importantly, many of CEQA’s requirements and timelines remain unchanged by the EO: The normal deadlines for public review and comment on environmental documents remain the same, California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental document filing fees must still be paid to the office of the county clerk when a notice of determination is filed, and the Assembly Bill (AB) 52 time frames within which a Native American tribe must request consultation and a lead agency must initiate—originally suspended for 60 days under EO N-54-20—are not extended.

Some county clerk offices in counties less affected by the pandemic are open for limited in-person services. Public agencies and project applicants in those locales that can comply with the normal physical posting requirements are not required to implement any of the alternative actions.

Any Questions?

Sydney Coatsworth, AICP

Sydney Coatsworth, AICP

Principal – Environmental


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