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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

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.

East Campus Loop Road Project

The East Campus Loop Road project would realign Health Sciences Drive, Medical Center Drive and surrounding areas to improve access, safety and wayfinding. This project would improve vehicular, pedestrian and micromobility access to existing facilities and to the future Viterbi Family Vision Research Center.

The East Campus Loop Road and Viterbi Family Vision Research Center projects have been evaluated for CEQA compliance together due to their colocation within the Health Sciences East Neighborhood, but are separately funded projects with different approval processes. Both projects are consistent with the 2018 LRDP and 2018 LRDP EIR. Therefore, pursuant to CEQA Guidelines, an Addendum to the 2018 LRDP EIR has been prepared to evaluate and document the projects’ consistency with these program documents. The UC Regents approved the Viterbi Vision Family Research Center project in November 2022. The East Campus Loop Road project is expected to be considered by the UC Regents for approval at their January 2024 hearing.

Addendum No. 10 – Viterbi Family Vision Research Center and East Campus Loop Road

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 2022 Annual Report documents the status of the Ecological Reserve including the management and maintenance tasks completed during the 2022 calendar year, including updated flora and fauna surveys, invasive species removal, and native plantings.

Cultural Resources Reference Guide for Land Development Projects

The La Jolla region is the traditional homeland of the Kumeyaay, Luiseño, Cupeño, and Cahuilla people and neighbor to several other tribal nations who have always visited and interacted with the local tribal nations. The La Jolla area is recognized as a sacred site critically important to the Kumeyaay, and the UC San Diego campus is built on lands known to contain sensitive archaeological and tribal cultural resources, particularly near the coast.

Campus Planning developed this Cultural Resource Reference Guide (PDF) to guide campus leadership, planners, project managers, maintenance staff, and associated consultants in the necessary protocols when undertaking land development or maintenance projects with potential to disturb cultural resources. This guide demonstrates UC San Diego’s strong commitment to avoiding and minimizing the impacts of land development and maintenance practices on sensitive cultural resources.


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