California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

CEQA Toolbox

Categorical Exemptions: Article 19

PRC Section 21084 requires the CEQA Guidelines to include a list of classes of projects which have been determined not to have a significant effect on the environment and which shall be exempt from the provisions of CEQA. The Secretary for Resources has found that the classes of projects listed in Article 19 do not have a significant effect on the environment, and they are declared to be categorically exempt from the requirement for the preparation of environmental documents. There are 33 classes of categorical exemptions.

Class 1. Existing Facilities

The operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, involving negligible or no expansion of use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency's determination.

The key consideration is whether the project involves negligible or no expansion of an existing use. The types of "existing facilities" itemized in 14 CCR Section 15301 are not intended to be all-inclusive of the types of projects which might fall within Class 1.

Reference: 14 CCR Section 15301

Examples

Additions to existing structures provided that the addition will not result in an increase of more than:

  • 50% of the floor area of the structures before the addition, or 2,500 square feet, whichever is less; or
  • 10,000 square feet if:
    • The project is in an area where all public services and facilities are available to allow for maximum development permissible in the General Plan, and
    • The area in which the project is located is not environmentally sensitive. Installation, in an existing facility occupied by a medical waste generator, of a steam sterilization unit for the treatment of medical waste generated by that facility provided that the unit is installed and operated in accordance with the Medical Waste Management Act (Section 117600, et seq., of the Health and Safety Code) and accepts no offsite waste.
  • Installation, in an existing facility occupied by a medical waste generator, of a steam sterilization unit for the treatment of medical waste generated by that facility provided that the unit is installed and operated in accordance with the Medical Waste Management Act (Section 117600, et seq., of the Health and Safety Code) and accepts no offsite waste.

Class 8. Actions by Regulatory Agencies for Protection of the Environment

  • Consists of actions taken by regulatory agencies, as authorized by state or local ordinance, to assure the maintenance, restoration, enhancement, or protection of the environment where the regulatory process involves procedures for protection of the environment.
  • Construction activities and relaxation of standards allowing environmental degradation are not included in this exemption.

Reference: 14 CCR Section 15308

Class 21. Enforcement Actions by Regulatory Agencies

Class 21 consists of:

  • Actions by regulatory agencies to enforce or revoke a lease, permit, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use issued, adopted, or prescribed by the regulatory agency or enforcement of a law, general rule, standard, or objective, administered or adopted by the regulatory agency.
  • Construction activities undertaken by the public agency taking the enforcement or revocation action are not included in this exemption.

Enforcement actions include:

  • The direct referral of a violation of lease, permit, license, certificate, or entitlement for use or of a general rule, standard, or objective to the Attorney General, District Attorney, or City Attorney as appropriate, for judicial enforcement.
  • The adoption of an administrative decision or order enforcing or revoking the lease, permit, license, certificate, or entitlement for use or enforcing the general rule, standard, or objective.

Reference: 14 CCR Section 15321

Class 30. Minor Actions to Prevent, Minimize, Stabilize, Mitigate or Eliminate the Release or Threat of Release of Hazardous Waste or Hazardous Substances

Class 30 consists of any minor cleanup actions taken to prevent, minimize, stabilize, mitigate, or eliminate the release or threat of release of a hazardous waste or substance which are small or medium removal actions costing $1 million or less.

Does not apply:

  • No cleanup shall be subject to this exemption if the action requires the onsite use of a hazardous waste incinerator or thermal treatment unit, or
  • If the relocation of residences or businesses, or the action involves the potential release into the air of volatile organic compounds, except for small scale in situ soil vapor extraction and treatment systems which have been permitted by the local air pollution control district or air quality management district.

Examples of minor cleanup actions:

  • Removal of sealed, non-leaking drums or barrels of hazardous waste or substances that have been stabilized, containerized and are designated for a lawfully permitted destination.
  • Maintenance or stabilization of berms, dikes, or surface impoundments
  • Construction or maintenance of interim or temporary surface caps.
  • Onsite treatment of contaminated soils or sludges provided treatment system meets Title 22 requirements and local air district requirements.
  • Excavation and/or offsite disposal of contaminated soils or sludges in regulated units.
  • Application of dust suppressants or dust binders to surface soils.

Reference: 14 CCR Section 15330

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Last updated: September 6, 2013
Permit Toolbox, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Permitting/
Kevin Taylor: Kevin.Taylor@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6582