Practice Areas: Environmental Issues
Our Clients Ask Us:
What are the impacts of this project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)? Would this project have growth-inducing impacts?
Our Types of Projects
Would this project have economic or social effects that would generate physical impacts under CEQA? Do economic or social conditions potentially override the physical impacts of a project or plan?
What alternatives to a proposed [project] [plan] should we consider?
Major Development Site in Orinda » M&A was the lead consultant to the City of Orinda for CEQA issues pertaining to development of the Gateway Valley, a site of about 1,000 acres located southwest of the Orinda crossroads area. A multi-year phased CEQA analysis was required as the project evolved in response to environmental analysis, changing market conditions, and input provided by the public.
The General Plan had recommended Gateway Valley development under a Specific Plan process with uses to include a conference center, a championship golf course, single- and multiple-family housing, and substantial open space. Although the developer's proposal was consistent with the General Plan, opposition arose, focusing on road connections to areas outside the Valley, land use intensity, and environmental concerns, particularly biology, visual resources, and geology (specifically, the amount and location of grading; repair and future appearance of a disused quarry; risk of slides; and protection of Brookside Creek).
Mundie & Associates first prepared an EIR on the developer's plan, which examined six land use alternatives at the same level of detail as the project along with two road network alternatives. Following rejection of the developer's plan, M&A was engaged to evaluate the CEQA impacts of a Specific Plan prepared by staff. Building upon the firm's previous CEQA work relating to the Gateway Valley, M&A developed a CEQA document in matrix format, which expedited public review and decisionmaking. The matrix approach was subsequently used for evaluation of revised plans proposed by Planning Commission and City Council. A Specific Plan concept was eventually approved in tandem with a Preliminary Development Plan (PDP) proposed by the applicant.
A third round of CEQA review was triggered when the Final Development Plan (FDP) submitted by the applicant was found to depart from a number of the specifications of the PDP: (1) the FDP incorporated a completely different geotechnical safety strategy than the PDP, (2) the FDP proposed to fill seeps and the principal stream on the site, which the PDP had protected, and (3) the proposed management of surface waters under the FDP differed greatly from that described in the PDP. Mundie & Associates conducted the CEQA review utilizing an Expanded Initial Study as the reporting vehicle. As a consequence of this thorough investigation, the Final Development Plan was not approved.
Major Development Site in Pleasanton » M&A led a team of consultants in evaluating potential development of the Bernal Property, the largest buildable (but unbuilt) site in Pleasanton. The property covers some 500+ acres astride I-680 at a strategic location adjacent to the Bernal Avenue interchange, within half a mile of downtown. The principal owner was the San Francisco Water Department. M&A prepared an EIR for the prezoning and annexation of the site, clearing the way for Pleasanton's consideration of a Specific Plan. Principal concerns of the EIR included infrastructure and public services.
This project evolved as development concepts for the site were more fully defined, as those concepts took shape in the form of specific plans, and as the City of Pleasanton became a participant in development planning. Following the annexation, M&A prepared a Draft EIR on a Specific Plan for the property as a private development encompassing some 2,200 housing units together with 750,000 square feet of employment and retail use, and an array of open space and recreational uses including a golf course. The design of the project incorporated elements of the new urbanism, including reduced street widths, residential design and siting features, and support for non-auto access (a station for the ACE commute train was a possible land use, and the significant level of onsite job creation was seen as accommodating a reduction in offsite trips).
Several ballot measures later, the project was reshaped to include the same commercial component, a smaller residential component, and a transfer of the balance of the site to ownership by the City of Pleasanton for the purpose of developing (on a fast track) a menu of active outdoor recreational uses and (on a long-term time frame) a community park with a varied set of outdoor and indoor uses. M&A prepared the Final EIR on the Phase I Bernal Property Specific Plan (which covered the private development component) and then, several years later, the EIR on the Phase II Bernal Property Specific Plan (which covered the public use areas, including the Bernal Community Park).
Environmental Impact Analysis of a Mixed-use Retail/Cinema Project in Downtown Redwood City » The Redevelopment Agency of this mid-Peninsula city proposed a mixed use retail project with a multiplex cinema on two city blocks: on one block, 80,000 square feet of retail space with a 20-screen, 4,500-seat multiplex cinema above; on the other, a 988-space parking structure with approximately 36,000 square feet of retail space (including a specialty foods market). M&A evaluated the CEQA impacts of the project, which addressed concerns about traffic, air quality, noise, cultural resources, visual impacts, and toxic/hazardous materials. M&A was also instrumental in the formulation of project alternatives, one of which was brought forward in the Final EIR and for acceptance by the developer and approval by the City in lieu of the original proposal.
Environmental Review of a Community College Campus in Berkeley » M&A prepared an expanded Initial Study, Environmental Impact Report, and mitigation monitoring plan for the proposed permanent home of Vista College (now Berkeley City College). M&A worked with the Peralta Community College District - helping the District undertake its first-ever CEQA review - on a project proposed to consolidate college operations formerly located at three separate sites in downtown Berkeley into a single-building campus. Key issues were parking and visual impacts. The evaluation of alternatives to the proposed project considered strategies to address these issues. The new campus opened for the Fall, 2006 term.
Environmental Assessment of Homeless Shelter and Substance Abuse Recovery Program in San Jose » M&A prepared an EIR for the expansion of a residential social service facility and its relocation from downtown to an industrial area. The EIR considered the extensive record of comments on the project (for which a negative declaration had previously been approved) and addressed a variety of social and economic concerns (crime, litter, adequacy of public services, property values) in the CEQA context. In addition, the document addressed important planning questions, including suitability of the project in an industrial area, suitability in a designated enterprise zone, and conformity with the general plan policy to locate delivery points for residential social service programs throughout the city.
Environmental Review of a Change in the Contra Costa County Urban Limit Line » M&A prepared the environmental impact report on a proposed change in the urban limit line (ULL) that had been adopted by county voters in 1990. The analysis focused on whether the proposed changes would constrict the supply of land potentially available for development to such a degree that it would cause adverse impacts: a potential result if the developable land supply could not accommodate residential growth projected through the time horizon of the current County General Plan. These impacts could include higher housing prices and displacement of housing development to other locations, which would in turn lead to adverse environmental consequences associated with longer commutes (e.g., increased traffic congestion and air pollution) and the conversion of agricultural land to urban use. The CEQA evaluation was grounded in M&A's analysis of regional housing development patterns and costs, and intra-regional housing and commute patterns in the Bay Area.