Initial Study FAQs

Why does the City conduct an environmental review?

This process was established under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in 1970 in response to the growing awareness that environmental impacts must be carefully considered in order to avoid unanticipated environmental problems resulting from development or planning efforts. The review process provides the public and policy makers with an analysis of the environmental impacts of a proposed project and an opportunity to include public participation in the approval process.

In 2016 we began the environmental review process with the City of San Francisco by submitting an Environmental Evaluation Application (EEA) to the Environmental Planning Division of the Planning Department. The environmental review process requires the publication of multiple notices, studies and reports and can take a number of years to complete. Throughout the process various documents are published and made available to the public, with multiple opportunities for members of the community to submit comments directly to the City on the proposed project.

In September 2017, the City noticed the public that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be prepared, and held a public scoping meeting on October 16, 2017. This provided the public with an opportunity to provide comment on the project and its potential effects on the neighborhood and assisted the City in its preparation of the Initial Study (discussed below).

What is an Initial Study?

The purpose of an Initial Study is to determine whether a project may have a significant impact on the environment and to identify measures that mitigate potential project environmental impacts. Standard environmental factors that are evaluated for potential impact include topics such as greenhouse gas emissions, land use, biological resources, transportation, cultural resources, historic resources, utilities, hydrology, and noise, among others.

The Initial Study for 3333 California Street found that further study on the project is required. What does that mean?

Our Initial Study identifies four topics that will require additional study under a focused EIR: cultural resources, transportation, air quality, and noise. Further study is typical of a project of this scope and we will continue to work with the City of San Francisco, architects, and expert consultants to assemble the best possible plan.

What are mitigation measures?

During the CEQA process, the City identifies feasible measures that would mitigate or reduce potentially significant environmental impacts resulting from a proposed project to less-than-significant levels. These mitigation measures become part of the final environmental document and conditions of approval, and are monitored and enforced by the City after project approvals.

Our Initial Study currently identifies 5 mitigation measures for the project and variant: 3 related to cultural resources, 1 related to biological resources, and 1 related to geology and soils (paleontological resources). The focused EIR, which is anticipated to be released later this year, may identify additional mitigation measures.

What happens next in the environmental process?

The community has 30 days to submit comments on the Initial Study, and the City will consider these comments as it prepares the focused Draft EIR.

Following publication later this year of the focused Draft EIR, the community will have a 45-day review and comment period. There will be a public hearing at the Planning Commission toward the end of this public review period.

After completion of the DEIR public review period, the City will review all the comments received by interested parties, including the Planning Commission, and respond to them in the Final EIR (FEIR). This document will then be presented to the Planning Commission for certification at a public hearing. We will continue to update the website as these dates are determined.