In 1970, the California Legislature passed the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requiring cities and other public agencies to consider what effects their discretionary actions might have on the environment before making decisions on a wide range of public and private projects.
The purpose of the environmental review process is to identify the environmental impacts that might be associated with a project prior to decision making.
It does so by informing decision-makers and the public of what impact a proposed project is likely to have on the environment and what can be done to reduce or mitigate any significant effects. Possible areas of environmental impact include traffic circulation, water quality, archaeological resources and vegetation and wildlife.
In addition to providing information, the process also requires that significant impacts be reduced or mitigated whenever possible. A wide range of City policies and procedures provide a basis for determining impacts and a means for ensuring that these impacts are mitigated.