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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.

CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines (updated 2020)encourage the use of tiered environmental documents to reduce delays and excessive paperwork in the environmental review process. This is accomplished in tiered documents by eliminating repetitive analyses of issues that were adequately addressed in the Program EIR and by incorporating those analyses by reference. The environmental reviews of currently proposed campus projects are tiered from the UC San Diego 2018 Long Range Development Plan Environmental Impact Report.

Environmental Impact Reports

La Jolla Campus 2018 LRDP Environmental Impact Report

UC San Diego prepared an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) 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, or their delegates, have considered and approved the following addenda.

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 s used for environmental review of project-specific Hillcrest campus development.

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 

Projects Currently Under Environmental Review

Projects Pending Environmental Approval

DER Connect and Microgrid

In accordance with established University of California procedures, the Chancellor of the University of California will consider approval of the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and Microgrid grant-funded research project which would allow the campus to build an experimental research instrument that would upgrade building energy management and lighting control systems in various buildings throughout the main campus (approximately 12 buildings). The proposed project consists of interior renovations to existing buildings involving negligible or no expansion of existing use. Therefore it can be seen with certainty that there would be no significant effect on the environment and the project is exempt from CEQA pursuant to Section 15301 Existing Facilities. None of the exceptions to the exemption pursuant to 15300.2 apply.


Erosion Repair and Parking Lot (south of the VA)

In accordance with established University of California procedures, the Chancellor of the University of California will consider approval of the Erosion Repair and Parking Lot (south of the VA) project located on the west campus; approval is anticipated no sooner than December 2020. An Addendum to the 2018 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and associated Findings were prepared in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

View the Erosion Repair and Parking Lot (south of the VA) project Addendum (PDF) and associated Findings (PDF).

Technical appendices:


Humanities and Social Sciences Building Repair

In accordance with established University of California procedures, the Chancellor of the University of California will consider approval of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Building Repair project fire and life safety improvements, located on the west campus; approval is anticipated no sooner than December 2020. The proposed project consists of fire and life safety improvements within and on the building façade of the HSS building. The proposed project consists of interior renovations to an existing building involving negligible or no expansion of existing use. The project also includes the construction and installation of an approximately 280 square-foot pump house for fire and life safety compliance, located adjacent to the project site in an existing paved service yard area, which will not result in an increase of more than 50 percent of the floor area of the HSS building. Therefore it can be seen with certainty that there would be no significant effect on the environment and the project is exempt from CEQA pursuant to Section 15301 Existing Facilities. None of the exceptions to the exemption pursuant to 15300.2 apply.


Central Utility Plant Expansion – Chiller Addition

In accordance with established University of California procedures, the Chancellor of the University of California will consider approval of the Central Utility Plant (CUP) Expansion – Chiller Addition project located on the west campus; approval is anticipated no sooner than December 2020. An Addendum to the 2018 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and associated Findings were prepared in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

View the CUP Expansion – Chiller Addition project Addendum (PDF) and associated Findings (PDF).

Technical appendices:


The U Tenant Improvements at Park and Market, Downtown San Diego

The proposed project property was entitled through the City of San Diego as part of the larger mixed-use high-density development. The City is the lead agency responsible for evaluating the environmental consequences of the development pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The City completed a Downtown 15168 Consistency Evaluation for the project and determined that the environmental impacts of the project were adequately addressed in the City of San Diego Downtown Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR, SCH# 2003041001) and the City of San Diego Climate Action Plan (FEIR, SCH# 2015021053). The University, in acquiring a portion of the development, acted as a responsible agency under CEQA and relied upon the City’s CEQA documentation in 2017.

Construction of the building was recently completed. Pursuant to CEQA, the proposed tenant improvements have been determined to be categorically exempt from environmental review under CEQA Guidelines Section 15301 Existing Facilities (Class 1), which exempts minor alterations of existing facilities involving negligible or no expansion of use. The proposed project consists of interior improvements to an existing building with no expansion of the building, and therefore it can be seen with certainty that there would be no significant effect on the environment. None of the exceptions to the use of categorical exemptions identified under CEQA Guidelines Section 15300.2 would apply.

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:

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. Call (858) 534-6515 to schedule.
  2. Printed versions 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.

Note: While COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders are in effect, staff are not on campus to receive mail and can only accept comments via email.

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

A Habitat Management Plan (HMP) was prepared for 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.

Questions?

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