Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order N-54-20 Addressing AB 52 and CEQA Notification Requirements during COVID-19 State of Emergency

On April 22, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-54-20 to address the need to extend certain government functions and legal requirements as a result of the March 4 State of Emergency regarding COVID-19. This included, among other things, a suspension of certain legally mandated timeframes for tribal consultation in CEQA, which were set forth by the amendments of Assembly Bill 52. Section 9 of the Executive Order (EO) states:
The timeframes set forth in Public Resources Code sections 21080.3.1 and 21082.3, within which a California Native American tribe must request consultation and the lead agency must begin the consultation process relating to an Environmental Impact Report, Negative Declaration, or Mitigated Negative Declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act, are suspended for 60 days.
The applicable timeframes in Section 21080.3.1 pertain to the amount of time a tribe has to respond to a project notification letter from a CEQA lead agency, and the amount of time within which the lead agency must initiate consultation, if requested. Under normal circumstances, a tribe has 30 days to respond to request consultation (21080.3.1[b][2]), and the lead agency must initiate consultation within 30 days of receiving that request (21080.3.1[e]). The EO suspends those timeframes until June 21, 2020, unless otherwise rescinded, extended, or modified. This will affect projects in the following manner:
  • If an initial project notification letter was mailed pursuant to 21080.3.1(d) before April 22 and the 30-day response window had not closed by that date, then the requirement for the tribes to respond within 30 days of that notice has been suspended. As a practical matter, this means that under these circumstances, tribes have until June 21, or the end of the 60-day suspension, to request consultation.
  • If a tribe has responded to a project notification letter within 30 days, and tribal consultation has yet to be initiated pursuant to 21080.3.1(e), then the requirement for the CEQA lead agency to initiate consultation within 30 days of that request has been suspended. This means that lead agencies have until June 21, or the end of the 60-day suspension, to initiate consultation.
This is important because CEQA documents cannot be released until consultation, if requested, has been initiated. For some projects, this means that the release of some CEQA documents may be postponed until after June 21.
The timeframes in Section 21082.3 pertain to the ability of the CEQA lead agency to take action on a CEQA document after consultation has concluded or a good faith effort has been made. Under normal circumstances, when a tribe failed to respond to the notice within 30 days, the CEQA lead agency can adopt or certify the CEQA document without further consultation (21082.3[d][3]). Under this EO, because the timeframe for tribes to respond to request consultation has been suspended, the lead agency cannot take such action under 21082.3(d)(3) simply because the tribe failed to respond within 30 days.
Lastly, the requirement to notify tribes by letter within 14 days of determining that an application for a project is complete or a decision by a public agency to undertake a project (21080.3.1[d]) appears to be unaffected by this Executive Order, which specifies only the affected timeframes as being “within which a California Native American tribe must request consultation and the lead agency must begin the consultation process.”
The Executive Order also suspends the requirements for physical posting of a hard copy document in a public location as well as physical posting of notices at the County Clerk’s office and the State Clearinghouse. Because most physical government offices are closed, the EO allows online posting of documents and notices, which must be posted for the same amount of time as the physical copy.
For more information, contact Lisa Westwood, RPA  at (916) 782-9100 or Anne Surdzial ,  AICP at (909) 307-0046.
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ECORP Assists Hangar 24 Charities with Airfest! 2019

hangar fest
ECORP Assists Hangar 24 Charities with Airfest! 2019
Flying Tigers

Flying Tigers Then and Now. P-40 Tomahawk and A-10 Thunderbolt.

Earlier this year, ECORP assisted Hangar 24 Charities with discounted and pro-bono environmental services to facilitate the 2019 Airfest! at Redlands Municipal Airport.  The annual event raises money which is donated to the variety of veterans’ and children’s charities that Hangar 24 Charities supports.
For a number of years, the event has used a parcel of land adjacent to the airport for some of their parking. The parcel is known to harbor a population of the federally listed (endangered) San Bernardino kangaroo rat (SBKR).  ECORP biologists worked with the Charities’ staff to consult with the Palm Springs office of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a plan that would allow the event to take place without causing harm to SBKR.  USFWS completed an extraordinarily expedited Biological Opinion (BO) with the Federal Aviation Administration under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

John Melby Makes a Pass in the Hangar 24 Muscle Biplane

ECORP biologists implemented the terms of the BO, including pre- and post-event surveys and collection of high-resolution low-altitude aerial imagery using one of our Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) – monitoring during pre-event fencing of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs, including areas with concentrations of SBKR burrows), and assisting the parking volunteers in directing parking away from the ESAs.
The two-day event, which featured military and civilian aircraft from across the nation in both static and aerial displays and flyovers, was a huge success, raising tens of thousands of dollars for Inland Empire veterans’ and children’s charities while still protecting the SBKR population.
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ECORP Welcomes Christina Torres

ChristinaTorres-photoChristina Torres joined the ECORP Biological Resources Group as an Assistant Biologist in the San Diego office. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Upon graduation, she spent some time in the Sierras conducting reptile surveys, vegetation surveys, and small mammal trapping for a megafires project with the U.S. Forest Service and UC Davis. In 2018, she was introduced to the world of honey bees, working as a lab technician for a bee lab at UC Davis. Christina worked on a multitude of projects that focused on the effects of various abiotic and biotic factors on honey bee health.
Samantha Alfaro Joins ECORP
Samantha AlfaroSamantha Alfaro joined the ECORP Environmental Resources Group as an Environmental Scientist in the San Diego office. She recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a B.A. in Environmental and Ocean Science and a minor in Economics. She joined ECORP part-time while finishing her degree and transitioned to full-time just in time to orchestrate the office move. Sam’s role at ECORP involves providing administrative support to ensure efficient office operation. Additionally, she has been providing technical support on various projects as she works towards a larger role in CEQA and regulatory services.
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South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan – Updates

sshcpThe SSHCP is adopted, and all new projects (ministerial and discretionary) within the SSHCP Plan Area will need to be evaluated to determine if the SSHCP applies. Most projects will be subject to SSHCP requirements unless they have valid existin g permits or do not alter natural land cover. The SSHCP is a regional effort that will create a streamlined federal and state permitting process, while preserving habitat, open space, and agricultural lands. The SSHCP will allow Sacramento County, the City of Rancho Cordova, the City of Galt, Sacramento County Water Agency, and the Southeast Connector Joint Powers Authority to receive Incidental Take Permits for Covered Species from USFWS and CDFW. The SSHCP also includes an Aquatic Resources Program to streamline permitting under the Clean Water Act Section 404 and 401. Land use authorities (Sacramento County, Galt, and Rancho Cordova) will be able to authorize incidental take of state and federally listed species and minimal impacts to aquatic features for projects implemented by third-party proponents.
As of October 2018, the SSHCP has been adopted by all partners. Additionally, the Central Valley RWQCB issued the programmatic Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the SSHCP in April 2019, the USFWS issued the 50-year federal ESA Incidental Take Permit in June 2019, and the USACE issued the Programmatic General Permit and Letter of Permission in July 2019. Anticipated permits/approvals in fall 2019 include the USACE Streamlined Permit Strategy and the CDFW California ESA Incidental Take Permit.
ECORP has managed the regulatory permitting for several projects that served as “on-ramps” to the SSHCP permitting process and is currently managing the regulatory permits for projects pursuing coverage under the SSHCP. We have qualified biologists with experience in preparing the supporting documentation needed for SSHCP permit applications and in helping clients to meet the project design, avoidance, and minimization measures required by the SSHCP. ECORP can also assist with the land dedication process for land owners who are interested in dedicating land to the SSHCP to satisfy mitigation requirements.
If you have a project within the SSHCP Plan Area , please contact Taraneh Eman  at (916) 782-9100 to see how our permitting specialists can assist in your project planning and regulatory needs.
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Newly Retired, Ever Admired Roger Mason, Ph.D., RPA Director of Cultural Resources, Emeritus

Archaeologist, Principal Investigator, Author, Leader, Mentor.  These are a few of the things we think of when we think of Roger Mason.
36 Years Cultural Resources Management; 836 Projects, and a Million Proposals while at ECORP.
Roger.Mason _002_It is with mixed emotions that we are announcing the retirement of Dr. Roger Mason. Roger has been with ECORP for 15 years as the Director of Cultural Resources and has been professionally involved with cultural resources management in Southern California since 1983. His commitment and dedication to this company has played an important role in the growth and success of this firm. When asked for parting words or a favorite memory to share, Roger replied, ” Over the past 15 years I have enjoyed working on many interesting projects and solving problems with my ECORP friends and colleagues. Highlights have been editing and contributing to the Antelope Valley Archaeological Research Design for Caltrans and evaluating and completing mitigation for archaeological sites in the Canyon Hills development area (Lake Elsinore area) for Pardee Homes.”
Roger has authored hundreds of reports dealing with cultural resources surveys, evaluations, and mitigation programs in all southern California counties. He has extensive project experience with the cultural resources requirements of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Section 106 of the NHPA and has been the Principal Investigator for all tasks carried out under ECORP’s blanket purchase order with the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Works. Roger has been adept at formulating prehistoric contexts and research questions to be employed in evaluating whether prehistoric sites are eligible under NRHP Criterion D and CRHR Criterion 4. He also prepared numerous cultural resources sections for CEQA documents and was a consultant to the California Energy Commission and the California High Speed Rail Authority for preparation of cultural resources sections of environmental documents. In addition to the numerous technical and professional reports that he has prepared over the years, Roger has written published articles and monographs, presented papers, and provided public lectures. His most recent article as principal author is entitled Aztec Period Political and Economic Organization of Western Morelos, Mexico, accepted for publication in Ancient Mesoamerica.
When asked what his retirement plans are, he replied, “In retirement I will do research and write about southern California prehistory, as well as western Morelos, Mexico, where I did my dissertation field work so many years ago. I will also still be available to ECORP on an on-call basis.”
ECORP hosted a dinner party to honor and reinforce our appreciation for this esteemed employee and brilliant person. Although we will miss him, he has more than earned the right to spend more time marking items off his bucket list. Everyone at ECORP wishes Roger all the best for the future!
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It’s Time to Plan for California Tiger Salamander Surveys!

salamander 1As we enter our rainy season, now is the time to plan for qualified biologists to assess your project site for California tiger salamanders. These native salamanders are found in grasslands and woodlands in parts of central and coastal California. They breed in temporary pools and ponds during the rainy season, and larvae develop within pools until their legs and lungs are developed. As waters dry, they then disperse upland where adults spend most of their lives, returning to water to breed during winter and spring. California tiger salamanders are protected under the federal and state Endangered Species Acts (ESA and CESA) throughout their range. As such, survey protocols in potentially occupied habitat must be approved by regulatory agencies and conducted by qualified and permitted personnel.  A habitat assessment is often recommended as a first step to gain site-specific information prior to planning a survey.  Then, depending on the outcome of the habitat assessment, agencies may require a protocol-level survey, especially for sites that have potential breeding habitats with ponds or pools. Drift fence survey arrays need to be approved by the agencies and constructed by October 15 of a given survey year.
salamander 2
ECORP has numerous highly qualified biologists ready to undertake habitat assessments and surveys, if needed, on your project site.  In addition, our regulatory specialists have guided numerous project applicants through the ESA, CESA, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) processes, resulting in many successful projects throughout the range of the California tiger salamander. Before the rainy season gets started, now is the time to schedule habitat assessments and surveys!
To discuss your project in relation to potential California tiger salamander issues, please contact Eric Stitt or Peter Balfour at (916) 782-9100.
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Change is Good

Feel free to stop by and check out our new office and visit with staff!
Come Visit Us!
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Marin Meza and Thea Fuerstenberg Serve on the Board of WTS

Marin Meza, Senior Biologist/Project Manager, and Thea Fuerstenberg, Senior Archaeologist , are 2019 Board Members of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Sacramento Chapter.
Marin is a continuing Board Member and is co-Chairing the fundraising position, which involves raising funds for the WTS Foundation and at WTS Sacramento events. Thea is co-Chairing the scholarships position, which involves coordination with local high schools and colleges/universities to post scholarship applications for female students studying in a transportation-related field (e.g., engineering and planning).
The objective of WTS is to promote the advancement of women in the transportation industry through programs, services, scholarships, and other activities. The Chapter has offered scholarships since 2005 and has supported young women studying transportation or related fields with over $100,000 in scholarships awarded. This past year, the Chapter awarded eleven female students with $22,000 collectively.
For more information, contact Marin Meza or Thea Fuerstenberg  in the Rocklin office at (916) 782-9100.
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Angela Haas and Caroline Garcia Serve on the Board of The Wildlife Society

Angela Haas, Associate Biologist/Assistant Project Manager, is the Conservation Affairs Committee Chair of the Sacramento-Shasta Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Angela has been a member of the Chapter since 2018 and is Chairing the conservation committee position, which involves coordination with Chairs of Conservation Committees throughout California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Guam to review and comment, if appropriate, on issues that may affect the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
The Conservation Affairs Committee of the Sacramento-Shasta Chapter has historically worked with diverse groups, including members of government and the public, to discuss local issues affecting people and wildlife in the region. The Chair can then elevate local conservation issues to a platform where they can be addressed using knowledge and expertise at a regional scale.
Caroline Garcia, Assistant Biologist in our San Diego office, is the Social Media Committee Chair of the Southern California Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Caroline has been a member of the Chapter since 2018. Caroline’s role as social media Chair involves advertising professional workshops, promoting networking/social events, sharing interesting wildlife news of the So-Cal Chapter footprint, and encouraging membership engagement through posts on media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
The So-Cal Chapter is currently exploring which platforms are most effective for communicating with members and non-members. As a committee Chair, Caroline attends TWS So-Cal Board meetings in addition to Chapter meetings and assists with running professional workshops, including 2019’s arroyo toad and burrowing owl workshops.
Founded in 1937, The Wildlife Society is an international network of nearly 10,000 leaders in wildlife science, management and conservation who are dedicated to excellence in wildlife stewardship. Its mission is to inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation. The Wildlife Society is a strong and effective voice in representing wildlife conservation and management and ensuring sustainable wildlife populations in healthy ecosystems.
For more information, contact Angela Haas  in the Rocklin office at (916) 782-9100 or Caroline Garcia in the San Diego office at (858) 279-4040.
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Governor Newsom Addresses Housing Crisis

On January 10, Governor Newsom introduced his 2019-2020 budget proposal to the Legislature. Governor Newsom’s  budget proposes $2.3 billion for new housing, including $1.3 billion in incentives to cities and counties for permitting and planning new homes and supporting local homeless housing efforts, as well as $1 billion in loans and tax credits to subsidize  low- and moderate-income housing construction. The Governor has called for 3.5 million new housing units to be built over seven years. In his State of the State address, Governor Newsom offered state assistance to the 47 California cities that are out of compliance with state housing requirements.
To implement his goals in the short-term, the Governor has requested that the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) establish higher statewide housing targets for 2021 and incentives for local jurisdictions to reach their three-year Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals within two years. These incentives include $250 million to assist local jurisdictions in planning for their new goals, including grants to improve staffing and processes at cities, and $500 million for incentives as jurisdictions meet certain planning milestones.
In the long-term, HCD will work with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to draft an improved RHNA process by December 31, 2022. Beginning July 1, 2023, if a jurisdiction does not have a housing element and has not zoned and entitled for its updated housing goals, SB 1 Local Streets and Roads funding may be withheld. The Governor has also proposed to allocate $500 million for the expansion of the State’s Housing Tax Credit program, a portion of which (up to $200 million) may be used to target moderate-income housing construction.
Given the Governor’s emphasis on new housing in both the short-term and long-term, the use of CEQA streamlining, when applicable, forms an important piece in the Governor’s new housing puzzle. CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.3 and Appendix M provide a streamlined review process for infill projects that satisfy specified performance standards. When infill streamlining is used, the CEQA review can limit review of the topics at a project level if they have been addressed in a planning level decision or by uniformly applicable development policies. CEQA also offers a number of Categorical and Statutory Exemptions for agricultural housing, affordable housing, and residential infill projects; projects consistent with a Specific Plan EIR; and Transit Priority Projects.
If you are interested in exploring how CEQA streamlining might be used for your project, please contact Tom Holm , AICP in the Santa Ana office at (714) 648-0630, or Scott Friend , AICP in the Chico office at (530) 809-1328.
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