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Glossary of Terms

CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) – State law that requires state, local, and other agencies to evaluate the environmental implications of their actions.

Conceptual Design Plan A conceptual design plan provides planning staff with the mechanism to conduct a preliminary review of an anticipated project.  Submittal of a conceptual design plan does not constitute a formal application.  It will be used by the City to aid the applicant to prepare a complete application when the potential project is anticipated to be large and/or complex.  

Development Agreement – A binding contract between a developer and a city or county establishing the conditions under which a particular development may occur.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR) – A report required by the California Environmental Quality Act to describe the environmental impact of a proposed project.

EIR Certification – EIR adoption by a governing agency accepting the document as being complete and adequate according to the California Environmental Quality Act.

EIS – An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document required of federal agencies by the National Environmental Policy Act for major projects or legislative proposals significantly affecting the environment. A tool for decision making, it describes the positive and negative effects of the undertaking and cites alternative actions.

Formal Application – A formal application for a proposed project can include a number of specific permit applications that may be required for a project, such as a General Plan Amendment, Specific Plan, Zoning Amendment and Planned Development. Once a formal application is submitted, the City has 30 days to determine if the application is complete.

General Plan – Required by State law, a General Plan is commonly referred to as a “blueprint” for where, how much and the type of growth planned for the future.  A statement of policies, including text and diagrams, setting forth objectives, principles,  standards, and plan proposals, for the future physical development of the city or county.

General Plan Amendment – Any part of the General Plan may be changed through the amendment process, including land use categories or changes to the plan’s policies, programs or standards. State law limits amending the General Plan to four times per year. A General Plan amendment requires careful review, detailed studies and public hearings.

Infrastructure – Physical structures that form the foundation for development. Infrastructure includes: wastewater and water works, electric power, communications, transit and transportation facilities, and oil and gas pipelines and associated facilities.

Lead Agency – The agency with the principal responsibility for issuing permits to a project, or for carrying out the project, is called the lead agency. As such, this agency is responsible for determining whether or not a project will significantly impact the environment and, when necessary, for analyzing the project's possible environmental impacts (or contracting for this work to be done under its direction). The planning department is usually the lead agency in local planning matters.

Mitigation Measure – The California Environmental Quality Act requires that when an environmental impact or  potential impact will occur, measures must be proposed that will eliminate, avoid, rectify, compensate for or reduce that effect.

NEPA – The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 established national policies and goals for the protection of the environment.  NEPA directs all federal agencies to give appropriate consideration to the environmental effects of their decision making and to prepare detailed environmental impact statements (EIS) on recommendations or reports on proposals for legislation and other major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment.

NOP – CEQA guidelines require that the lead agency for an EIR must circulate a Notice of Preparation (NOP) to each Responsible and Trustee Agency advising them of its intention to prepare a Draft EIR. A Responsible Agency includes any public agency, other than the lead agency, which has discretionary approval power over a project. A Trustee Agency is a state agency having jurisdiction by law over natural resources affected by a project, which are held in trust for the people of California. The NOP must include a description of the project; the location of the project indicated on an attached map; the salient environmental issues; and the probable environmental effects of the project.

RFQ – A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is a written request sent by the City to professional firms in an effort to solicit professional services.

SOQ – Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) is a detailed proposal required of professional firms interested in contracting with the City for services. The process of soliciting SOQs allows an agency to select the most qualified firm for a project.

Specific Plans – Specific plans describe allowable land uses, identify open space, and detail infrastructure availability and financing for a portion of the community.


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