Clearing Up CEQA's Categorical Exemptions

Law360, New York (March 10, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT) -- On March 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court resolved almost three years of uncertainty over how to apply the “unusual circumstances” exception to the use of categorical exemptions under the California Environmental Quality Act. The decision creates a two-part test that, taken as a whole, will favor agencies more than project opponents.

The CEQA guidelines include a series of “categorical exemptions” that exempt projects from CEQA review if they fall within one or more prescribed project categories, but only as long as certain exceptions do not apply.

The California Supreme Court’s decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation et al. v. City of Berkeley...

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