What is an exception to an exemption?
  • A project may be exempt from the CEQA process by the application of categorical exemption.
  • The existence of the exception requires the project to go through the CEQA process regardless of the fact that the project otherwise meets the criteria of a categorical exemption. The exceptions are listed in § 15300.2 of the CEQA Guidelines.
TYPES OF EXCEPTIONS

STATUTORY EXCEPTIONS
  • Projects that which may result in damage to scenic resources within a duly designated scenic highway.
  • Projects located on a site or facility listed pursuant to Cal Govt Code §65962.5
  • Projects that may cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of an historical resource.
  • See Public Resources Code §21084
GUIDELINE EXCEPTIONS

LOCATION
  • Location based exceptions apply where a project may impact on an environmental resource of hazardous or critical concern.
CUMULATIVE IMPACT
  • This exception applies when, although a particular project may not have a significant impact, the impact of successive projects, of the same type, in the same place, over time is significant.
SIGNIFICANT EFFECT DUE TO UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES
  • This exception applies when, although the project may otherwise be exempt, there is a reasonable possibility that the project will have a significant effect due to unusual circumstances. Examples include projects which may affect:
    • Scenic resources
    • Historical resources
STATUTORY REFERENCES
Categorical Exemptions; Projects Damaging Scenic Resources | Public Resources Code §21084

GUIDELINES REFERENCES

Exceptions to Categorical Exemptions | California Code of Regulations §15300.2

SELECTED CASE LAW

Azusa Land Reclamation Co. v. Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster(1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 1165
Wildlife Alive. v. Chickering (1976) 18 Cal.3d 190
East Peninsula Education Council v. Palos Verdes(1989) 210 Cal. App. 3d 155
Association for the Protection of Values v. Ukiah(1991) 2 Cal. App. 4th 720
City of Pasadena v. State of California(1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 810