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Geisel Library

Environmental Planning

Environmental Planning reviews the environmental impacts of UC San Diego projects under the 2018 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), applying mitigation measures for potential impacts and overseeing ongoing monitoring of these measures.

Our goals:

  1. Manage the environmental review process required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  2. Promote the design and construction of environmentally appropriate campus projects
  3. Implement resource management plans that promote long-term sustainability of the campus' natural resources

UC San Diego CEQA Process

Environmental Planning is responsible for providing the appropriate environmental documentation for individual projects to ensure compliance with CEQA – the basis for environmental law and policy in California. Documents include:

  • Categorical Exemptions
  • Addenda
  • Mitigated Negative Declarations
  • Environmental Impact Reports

UC San Diego CEQA Tiering Process

The CEQA concept of "tiering" refers to the coverage of general environmental matters in broad program-level Environmental Impact Reports (EIR), with subsequent focused environmental documents for individual projects that implement the program. The La Jolla Campus 2018 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) EIR and the UC San Diego Hillcrest Campus 2019 LRDP EIR are Program EIRs that evaluate the potential impacts of the LRDPs and establish mitigation monitoring and reporting programs for projects implemented under each LRDP.

CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines (updated 2023) encourage the use of streamlining tools to reduce delays and excessive paperwork in the environmental review process. This is accomplished in “tiered” documents that eliminate repetitive analyses of issues that were adequately addressed in the Program EIR and incorporate those analyses by reference. The environmental reviews of campus projects are tiered from the UC San Diego La Jolla Campus 2018 LRDP EIR or the UC San Diego Hillcrest Campus 2019 LRDP EIR.

Pursuant to CEQA, Section 15168(c)(4), an agency should use “...a written checklist or similar device to document the evaluation of the site and the activity to determine whether the environmental effects of the operation were covered in the program EIR.” Therefore, when appropriate and prior to approving a new project, the university prepares an Addendum to the 2018 LRDP EIR to document that none of the conditions described in CEQA Guidelines Section 15162 calling for the preparation of a subsequent EIR have occurred (14 CCR 15164). However, when one or more of the conditions described in Section 15162 are met, a subsequent tiered document, such as a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) or EIR must be prepared.

Occasionally, UC San Diego may pursue projects that are not within the current scope of the current LRDP EIRs. In these cases, if an LRDP amendment is not warranted and the project is not exempted from CEQA, a stand-alone project MND or EIR would be prepared.

Environmental Impact Reports

UC San Diego is proposing to update the 2018 La Jolla Campus LRDP.  In accordance with Section 15162 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), UC San Diego is preparing a Subsequent EIR to evaluate and disclose potential impacts associated with approval and implementation of the proposed Update to the 2018 LRDP as well as changed conditions since the 2018 LRDP EIR was prepared. Once completed, the Draft Subsequent EIR will be circulated for a 45-day public review period (anticipated late summer to fall 2024).  See the La Jolla Campus LRDP Webpage for more information.

La Jolla Campus 2018 LRDP Environmental Impact Report

UC San Diego prepared an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to CEQA to evaluate the environmental effects of growth under the La Jolla Campus 2018 Long Range Development Plan. The 2018 LRDP EIR is used for environmental review of project-specific campus development.

As a public agency principally responsible for approving or carrying out projects under the 2018 LRDP EIR, the University of California is considered the Lead Agency under CEQA. The Regents filed a Notice of Determination for the 2018 LRDP EIR following its certification in November 2018.

The Regents, or their delegates, have also considered and approved the following projects implemented under the La Jolla Campus 2018 LRDP. View these projects’ Addenda to the 2018 LRDP EIR and associated Notices of Determination (NOD) below.

Hillcrest Campus 2019 LRDP Environmental Impact Report

UC San Diego prepared an EIR to evaluate the environmental effects of redevelopment proposed by the Hillcrest Campus 2019 Long Range Development Plan. The 2019 LRDP EIR is used for environmental review of project-specific Hillcrest campus development.

As a public agency principally responsible for approving or carrying out projects under the 2019 LRDP EIR, the University of California is considered the Lead Agency under CEQA. The Regents filed a Notice of Determination for the 2019 LRDP EIR following its certification in November 2019.

The Regents have also considered and approved the following projects implemented under the Hillcrest Campus 2019 LRDP. View these projects’ addenda to the 2019 LRDP EIR and associated NOD below.

Addendum No. 1 – Phase 1, Outpatient Pavilion and Parking Structure Project and NOD

8980 Villa La Jolla Drive Project Environmental Impact Report

UC San Diego prepared an EIR to evaluate the environmental effects of a new facility located immediately adjacent to the La Jolla campus that will house several programs from UC San Diego Health, UC San Diego School of Medicine, and UC San Diego Extension. The project was previously referred to as the La Jolla Innovation Center. View the Final EIR through the links below:

Notices of Exemption

Pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15062, the following Notices of Exemption serve as public notice that a project exempt from CEQA has been approved.

Public Participation in the CEQA Process

UC San Diego encourages public participation in the environmental planning and review process. This includes projects that require public noticing, public scoping meetings/hearings as well as information sessions provided to community planning groups. 

If you would like to participate, you can:

  • Subscribe to the Environmental Review Mailing List by emailing to receive electronic notification of currently proposed campus projects.
  • Review documents for campus projects in the “Projects Currently Under Environmental Review” section above.

If you are unable to view draft environmental PDF documents, you can review them in two other ways:

  1. By appointment at the Campus Planning office
  2. Printed versions of Mitigated Negative Declarations and Environmental Impact Reports are available during normal operating hours at the following libraries:

Public Comments

You may provide comments regarding the accuracy of draft environmental documents by email.

Projects Currently Under Environmental Review

Projects that are currently undergoing environmental review by UC San Diego will be featured below. Pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15164, addenda to EIRs do not need to be circulated for public review, but can be included in or attached to the final EIR and provided to the approving body when considering approval of a project. While many of UC San Diego’s projects comply with CEQA through an addendum to a program EIR, projects that require MNDs or EIRs will be circulated for the public and agency review periods mandated by CEQA. Documents available for public review will be included below and noticed per CEQA requirements, when necessary.

UC San Diego Health, Thornton Pavilion MRI Addition and Replacement

The project proposes to construct an addition to the existing radiology suite in the UC San Diego Health Thornton Pavilion of approximately 3,100 square feet (sf). The addition would include one (1) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment room, a shared control room, an outpatient holding room with two dressing rooms, an inpatient holding room for approximately 3 patients, a teamwork station, a patient toilet and a soiled holding room. Also included in the scope of work is an interior remodel of approximately 700 sf for two (2) new MRI treatment rooms and related support space.  The project is exempt from CEQA pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15300 as Class 1: Existing Facilities (e)(2) and is expected to be approved by the Chancellor in August 2023, after which a Notice of Exemption will be filed with the State Clearinghouse and posted to this website.

Hillcrest LRDP Revised Phase 1B Projects

The proposed Phase 1B projects comprise the next phase (Phase 1B) of the approved 2019 LRDP redevelopment plan. Phase 1B includes the following components: the widening of Bachman Place, the construction of the north access driveway, the construction of a new temporary construction haul road, and the demolition of existing structures. The project is consistent with the Hillcrest Campus 2019 LRDP and the 2019 LRDP EIR. Pursuant to the CEQA Guidelines, an Addendum to the 2019 LRDP EIR has been prepared to evaluate and document the projects’ consistency with these program documents. The project will be considered for approval by the Chancellor in March or April 2024.

Addendum No. 2 – Phase 1B, Bachman Widening, North Access Driveway, and Demolition

UC San Diego Health, Rancho Bernardo Healthcare Center Medical Office Building

The proposed project is located in the northwest corner of Bernardo Center Drive and Interstate 15 in the Rancho Bernardo Community, in the City of San Diego. The project involves the development and operation of a 5-story, approximately 152,000 gross square-foot medical office building (MOB), as well as a 622 space, one-level at grade plus 5-deck above-grade parking structure. The MOB facility would include spaces for pharmacies, clinic modules, laboratories, and other specialty services. The project would also include a traffic signal at the driveway entrance on Bernardo Center Drive and associated intersection improvements. Pursuant to the CEQA Guidelines, the University of California (UC) San Diego has prepared a Draft Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) and determined that the project would not have a significant effect on the environment that cannot be mitigated.

In accordance with the CEQA Guidelines Section §15105, a Draft MND was circulated for public review which began on April 25, 2024 and ended on May 24, 2024. The Final MND is currently being prepared and will consider all comments that were received during the public review period. The project is anticipated to be considered for approval by the UC Board of Regents at their September 2024 meeting. The Final MND will be made available on this website prior to the meeting.

Mitigation Monitoring

CEQA requires that a lead agency establish a program to monitor and report on mitigation measures adopted as part of the environmental review process to avoid or reduce the severity and magnitude of potentially significant environmental impacts associated with project development. The CEQA guidelines (Section 15097 [a]) require that a mitigation monitoring and reporting program be adopted upon certification of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) to ensure mitigation measures identified in the EIR or MND are implemented.

The Mitigation Monitoring Program describes monitoring and reporting procedures, monitoring responsibilities, and monitoring schedule. Environmental Planning oversees implementation of the Mitigation Monitoring Program.

2018 LRDP EIR Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program

UC San Diego Natural Resource Management

Open Space Preserve

The 2018 Long Range Development Plan and Environmental Impact Report have designated campus natural resources consisting of canyons, steep slopes, native vegetation and eucalyptus groves as "Open Space Preserve." The approximately 335 acres of Open Space Preserve on the campus consists of four types of open space that contain both natural and manmade landscapes: Ecological Reserve, Restoration Lands, Historic Grove and Urban Forest. Each type of open space is described below.

  • Ecological Reserve – These lands contain the majority of native vegetation communities occurring on campus, including upland and wetland mitigation sites. This open space type contains the campus’s most high-quality and sensitive habitats, and is offered the highest level of preservation on campus. Ecological Reserve lands also serve as an important resource for teaching and research when appropriate and sensitive to the Ecological Reserve functions.
  • Restoration Lands – This open space type is assigned to lands that have experienced disturbance by erosion and/or invasive species and have the greatest potential for native habitat restoration. The intent is to identify areas of the campus where restoration to a native or Ecological Reserve condition could improve habitat values.
  • Historic Grove – Historic Grove includes the eucalyptus stands through the core of the campus. The mature eucalyptus groves are a valuable cultural landscape and aesthetic resource to the campus. These trees have defined much of UC San Diego’s landscape character over the past 50 years.
  • Urban Forest – These lands include large stands of eucalyptus trees where the university seeks to introduce a diversity of tree species. Urban Forest is considered an important aesthetic resource for the campus.

Open Space Management Program

Initially developed in 2004, the Open Space Management Program is intended to maintain and enhance existing biological values within the Ecological Reserve and other portions of the Open Space Preserve. Activities addressed by the program include habitat restoration/enhancement, exotic species control/removal, erosion control, trash removal, unauthorized trail closure, public awareness, recreational activities, research/education activities, and operational protocols. It also includes monitoring measures for both habitat and species in the Open Space Preserve. A habitat banking and monitoring program was established wherein the geographic boundaries of all mitigation lands (and associated habitat descriptions) are entered into a database and monitored by a qualified biologist to ensure that habitat values are being maintained. For more information, see the Ecological Reserve flyer (PDF).

Habitat Management Plan

The UC San Diego Ecological Reserve Habitat Management Plan (HMP) guides the management of the Ecological Reserve pursuant to the Open Space Management Program. This plan takes the Open Space Management Program a step farther by providing specific direction for the preservation and long-term management of the Ecological Reserve and expands upon the applicable management guidelines identified in the LRDP. Given that UC San Diego does not record conservation easements over mitigation areas on campus lands, implementation of specific recommendations in the HMP ensures that the habitat functions and values of the Ecological Reserve are maintained and protected over the long term. Funding for implementation of the HMP is provided on an annual basis through Campus Resource Management and Planning funds, though it is a goal of the university to establish an endowment to fund long‐term management of its Ecological Reserve lands in perpetuity. The 2023 Annual Report documents the status of the Ecological Reserve including the management and maintenance tasks completed during the 2023 calendar year, including updated flora and fauna surveys, invasive species removal, and native plantings.


Contact Lauren Lievers, (858) 246-2914, or Alison Buckley, (858) 534-4464.