Land use development projects may be proposed for a location adjacent to a closed or active solid waste disposal site or other solid waste operation or facility. This guidance assists LEAs wishing to comment on such a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
CEQA extends the ability to comment on environmental documents beyond just responsible agencies to the public at large. Any person may comment on an environmental document. Therefore, even though an LEA is not a responsible agency1 on a land use project that is adjacent to a solid waste facility, and even though a lead agency has no obligation to consult with the LEA on the project under CEQA, the LEA may still provide comments as an interested party.
As an agency with particular expertise in solid waste, an LEA may, in its discretion, provide comments on a proposed environmental document for any land use project adjacent to a solid waste facility if it believes there are public health and safety hazards or other potential environmental effects the lead agency should be aware of. For example, if a housing development is being proposed adjacent to a closed disposal site with landfill gas migration issues, the LEA is allowed under CEQA to provide comments informing the lead agency of potential hazards to the public and methods for mitigating such hazards. Or, as another example, if a development is being proposed near a transfer processing facility, CEQA allows the LEA to provide comments to inform the lead agency of the potential for noise.
In crafting comments, the LEA may wish to consider that effective CEQA comment letters are those that are factually specific and accompanied, if possible, by reports, pictures, studies, or other substantial evidence to support the comments rather than bare, generalized assertions or form or template letters. To further encourage consideration by the lead agency, the LEA may wish to pay very close attention to and comply with public comment deadlines in notices issued by the lead agency.
Nevertheless, to assist LEAs, an initial set of example comment letters have been collected from CalRecycle and LEA staff regarding proposed projects located adjacent to solid waste disposal sites. Links to the example letters can be found below. The comment letters are for informational purposes only and include site-specific information that would not be applicable to all projects.
Comment letters prepared by CalRecycle staff:
- CEQA Comment Letter for Claremont McKenna College Master Plan, Los Angeles County, Dated April 18, 2011
- Comment Letter Regarding Postclosure Land Uses at Landfills, Dated September 16, 2003
- Comment Letter Regarding Applicability of Postclosure Land Use Standards, Dated July 25, 2005
- Comment Letter Regarding Postclosure Land Uses at Closing Military Bases, Dated December 27, 2006
- CEQA Comment Letter for McKinley Village Project, City of Sacramento, Dated January 9, 2013
Comment letters prepared by LEA staff:
- Santa Clara County, Department of Environmental Health, CEQA Comment Letter for Centennial Gateway Mixed-Use Project, Santa Clara County, Dated August 8, 2014
- Sacramento County LEA, CEQA Comment Letter for Aspen 1-New Brighton Project, Sacramento County, Dated August 31, 2012
- Sacramento County LEA, CEQA Comment Letter for McKinley Village Project, City of Sacramento, Dated January 8, 2014
- Orange County, Environmental Health, Solid Waste LEA, CEQA Comment Letter for Proposed Rio Santiago Project, Orange County, Dated January 9, 2014
- Orange County, Environmental Health, Solid Waste LEA, CEQA Comment Letter for Ganahl Lumber Costa Mesa Relocation Project, Orange County, Dated December 10, 2014
- Orange County, Environmental Health, Solid Waste LEA, CEQA Comment Letter for Rancho San Juan Apartment Project, Orange County, Dated May 24, 2013
- Sacramento County LEA, CEQA Comment Letter for Cordova Hills Project, County of Sacramento, Dated February 21, 2012
Questions or comments concerning land use developments adjacent to closed solid waste disposal sites may be directed to CalRecycle Closed, Illegal, and Abandoned Sites Section staff. Questions or comments concerning land use developments adjacent to active solid waste facilities may be directed to CalRecycle Permitting and Assistance Branch staff.
1 “Responsible agency” means a public agency that proposes to carry out or approve a project, for which a lead agency is preparing or has prepared an EIR or negative declaration. For the purposes of CEQA, the term “responsible agency” includes all public agencies other than the lead agency that have discretionary approval power over the project. 14 CCR § 15381. Unless an LEA is issuing a solid waste facility permit, it has no discretionary approval over a land use project.