CEQA exemptions provide a streamlined path to entitlement for projects and are almost always preferred if available. On January 16, 2020, the Office of Planning and Research released updated to two technical advisories. One is related to application of CEQA exemptions in disaster recovery efforts, and the other addresses CEQA review of housing projects.

The technical advisory addressing CEQA review of housing projects provides a useful comparison chart that compares streamlined entitlement requirements under various statutes, regulations, and guidelines. Applicants considering entitlement of housing projects should consider the potential applicability of streamlining provisions. For example, Public Resources Code section 21159.25 provides streamlining for infill housing in unincorporated counties, if that housing project meets various requirements. Bypassing a full EIR will likely save applicants consider time and expense.

While the technical advisories released by OPR are not legally binding, they are instructive. The focus on CEQA exemptions in disaster recovery efforts and review of housing projects reflects recent events and trends in the state.