Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14 § 15125

Current through Register 2023 Notice Reg. No. 36, September 8, 2023
Section 15125 - Environmental Setting
(a) An EIR must include a description of the physical environmental conditions in the vicinity of the project. This environmental setting will normally constitute the baseline physical conditions by which a lead agency determines whether an impact is significant. The description of the environmental setting shall be no longer than is necessary to provide an understanding of the significant effects of the proposed project and its alternatives. The purpose of this requirement is to give the public and decision makers the most accurate and understandable picture practically possible of the project's likely near-term and long-term impacts.
(1) Generally, the lead agency should describe physical environmental conditions as they exist at the time the notice of preparation is published, or if no notice of preparation is published, at the time environmental analysis is commenced, from both a local and regional perspective. Where existing conditions change or fluctuate over time, and where necessary to provide the most accurate picture practically possible of the project's impacts, a lead agency may define existing conditions by referencing historic conditions, or conditions expected when the project becomes operational, or both, that are supported with substantial evidence. In addition, a lead agency may also use baselines consisting of both existing conditions and projected future conditions that are supported by reliable projections based on substantial evidence in the record.
(2) A lead agency may use projected future conditions (beyond the date of project operations) baseline as the sole baseline for analysis only if it demonstrates with substantial evidence that use of existing conditions would be either misleading or without informative value to decision-makers and the public. Use of projected future conditions as the only baseline must be supported by reliable projections based on substantial evidence in the record.
(3) An existing conditions baseline shall not include hypothetical conditions, such as those that might be allowed, but have never actually occurred, under existing permits or plans, as the baseline.
(b) When preparing an EIR for a plan for the reuse of a military base, lead agencies should refer to the special application of the principle of baseline conditions for determining significant impacts contained in Section 15229.
(c) Knowledge of the regional setting is critical to the assessment of environmental impacts. Special emphasis should be placed on environmental resources that are rare or unique to that region and would be affected by the project. The EIR must demonstrate that the significant environmental impacts of the proposed project were adequately investigated and discussed and it must permit the significant effects of the project to be considered in the full environmental context.
(d) The EIR shall discuss any inconsistencies between the proposed project and applicable general plans, specific plans and regional plans. Such regional plans include, but are not limited to, the applicable air quality attainment or maintenance plan or State Implementation Plan, area-wide waste treatment and water quality control plans, regional transportation plans, regional housing allocation plans, regional blueprint plans, plans for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, habitat conservation plans, natural community conservation plans and regional land use plans for the protection of the coastal zone, Lake Tahoe Basin, San Francisco Bay, and Santa Monica Mountains.
(e) Where a proposed project is compared with an adopted plan, the analysis shall examine the existing physical conditions at the time the notice of preparation is published, or if no notice of preparation is published, at the time environmental analysis is commenced as well as the potential future conditions discussed in the plan.

Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 14, § 15125

Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21083.05, Public Resources Code. Reference: Sections 21060.5, 21061 and 21100, Public Resources Code; Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (2013) 57 Cal. 4th 439; Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management Dist. (2010) 48 Cal.4th 310; Cherry Valley Pass Acres & Neighbors v. City of Beaumont (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 316; San Francisco Baykeeper v. California State Lands Commission (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 202; North County Advocates v. City of Carlsbad (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 94; E.P.I.C. v. County of El Dorado (1982) 131 Cal. App. 3d 350; San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center v. County of Stanislaus (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 713; and Bloom v. McGurk (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1307.

1. Amendment of section and Note filed 10-26-98; operative 10-26-98 pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21087 (Register 98, No. 44).
2. Change without regulatory effect amending Note filed 10-6-2005 pursuant to section 100, title 1, California Code of Regulations (Register 2005, No. 40).
3. Amendment of subsection (d) and Note filed 2-16-2010; operative 3-18-2010 (Register 2010, No. 8).
4. Amendment of subsection (a), new subsections (a)(1)-(3) and amendment of Note filed 12-28-2018; operative 12/28/2018 pursuant to Government Code section 11343.4(b)(3) (Register 2018, No. 52).