Burn Day Status

12/1 - Fire season is in effect. Backyard burning not allowed.

  •  

    Coastal

  •  

    Inland

Protecting Our Blue Skies for A Healthy Community
Compliance & Customer Assistance
South County Air Quality
Burn Program Assistance & Alternatives
Grant Funding & Business Assistance
Air Quality in Your Neighborhood
Clean Fuels & Transportation Alternatives
Teacher & Student Resources

Land Use & CEQA

San Luis Obispo County APCD CEQA Tools

**CalEEMod 2020.4.0 is now available. Click here for a summary of the changes and a link to the downloadable version.**

The SLO County APCD 2012 CEQA Air Quality Handbook defines the criteria used by the SLO County APCD when evaluating new development to determine when an air quality analysis is necessary, the type of analysis that should be performed, the significance of the impacts predicted by the analysis, and the mitigation measures to reduce overall air quality impacts. The 2017 Clarification Memo for the 2012 CEQA Air Quality Handbook provides administrative clarity on certain sections of the Handbook.

In 2021, the SLO County APCD created the following drop down information guide which captures the “spirit” of the 2012 CEQA Air Quality Handbook and the 2017 Clarification Memo while also providing administrative clarity on the two documents. The SLO County APCD then created a CEQA Training Guided Question document to help answer the air quality and greenhouse gas questions from Appendix G: Environmental Checklist Form. Additionally, the APCD hosted a Virtual CEQA Training that reviewed the information on this website, how-to use CalEEMod, and evaluating a hypothetical mixed-use project. A webinar recording and further information can be found in the "Additional Resources" section below. 

The information in the dropdowns is divided into three sections:

  • General Information, includes references to air quality regulations, policies and permit requirements which apply to all development projects in SLO County regardless of size or scope.
  • Air Quality, presenting guidance for completing air quality impact analysis and mitigation for both the construction and operation phases of a project. Quick Guides for Construction and Operational Mitigation Measures can be found in the “Comparing Construction Emissions to Thresholds and Applying Mitigation” section and the “Comparing Operational Emissions to Thresholds and Applying Mitigation” section, respectively.
  • Greenhouse Gases, which provides guidance for the analysis and mitigation of greenhouse gas impacts and should be considered in conjunction with the SLO County APCD 2021 Interim CEQA Greenhouse Gas Guidance document.


General Information

SLO County APCD Roles Under CEQA

1. The Lead Agency, as defined by CEQA, is the public agency that has the primary responsibility for carrying out or approving a project (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15367). To be a CEQA Lead Agency, the public agency must have discretionary authority over the proposed project. The Lead Agency also has the primary responsibility for determining what level of CEQA review is required for a project and for preparing and approving the appropriate document.

As a Lead Agency the SLO County APCD would prepare environmental documents for its own discretionary actions, such as air quality plans and rules, however the SLO County APCD rarely acts as a lead agency.

2. A Responsible Agency under CEQA is a public agency with some discretionary authority over a project or a portion of it, but which has not been designated the Lead Agency (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15381). Because Responsible Agencies will take discretionary actions regarding a project, they are also required to comply with CEQA. For efficiency, CEQA allows Responsible Agencies to rely on a CEQA document prepared by the Lead Agency to meet their CEQA compliance requirements. However, Responsible Agencies must independently review and approve the CEQA document, and not rely automatically on the Lead Agency’s judgments. According to CEQA, a Responsible Agency complies with CEQA: “By considering the EIR or negative declaration prepared by the Lead Agency and by reaching its own conclusions on whether and how to approve the project involved” (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15096(a)).

The SLO County APCD is rarely a Responsible Agency and should seldom be named as a Responsible Agency in CEQA documents because the SLO County APCD does not usually independently review and approve CEQA documents.

3. As a Commenting Agency the SLO County APCD reviews projects that may have air quality impacts and evaluates whether the environmental document provides sufficient information and adequate mitigation to alleviate adverse impacts.

The SLO County APCD usually acts as a Commenting Agency. Comments are submitted to Lead Agencies for their consideration. However, the Lead Agency has the primary responsibility for determining what level of CEQA review is required for a project and for preparing and approving the appropriate document.

Guidance for Land Use Decisions

Health risk from diesel particulate matter

Health Risk from Nearby Diesel Trucks and Locomotives
Development adjacent to high-volume roadways and railroads where mobile sources produce diesel particulate matter can present health risks to sensitive receptors. Diesel particulate matter has been classified by the California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) as a toxic air contaminant and a carcinogen. Because of this, the APCD does not support sensitive receptor development near Highway 101 and railroads. Non-sensitive uses and developments such as commercial, parking lots and offices in which occupants are exposed to the health risk for a shorter duration—are better suited to be nearest to Highway 101 and railroads. Health risk decreases with decreased rate of exposure to the toxic source.

Should projects continue, the APCD recommends the following:

  • Orient the sensitive receptor as far back as possible from the toxic source, which will directly reduce cancer risk;
  • Incorporate strategies stated in Table 1 from the California Air Resource Board’s technical advisory document Strategies to Reduce Air Pollution Exposure Near High-Volume Roadways;
  • Note: Implementing strategies such as air filtration systems, sound walls, and vegetation barriers have not been proven to be as effective as moving a sensitive receptor farther from the toxic source;
  • Disclose potential health risks from US Highway 101 to the future sensitive receptors for informational purposes.

Further, residential units sited near pollution sources are generally lower in market value, indicating it is possible residential homes would become affordable to lower-income populations. Low-income community members often face existing health disparities, so siting housing near pollution sources which has a possibility to become affordable may need further consideration (See Page 57 of the CARB’s 2017 Scoping Plan update). To be in alignment with State goals, specifically Assembly Bill 617 which aims to reduce exposure of toxic air contaminants in low-income and disadvantaged communities and protect public health, housing that could become affordable should be sited in a fair environmentally just way meaning “No group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies” (See EPA webpage – Learn about Environmental Justice). It is important to consider that land use decisions now could create a neighborhood that may bear more of the environmental consequences that come from pollution sources.

Infill within and outside urban and village reserve lines

Infill within Urban Reserve Lines & Village Reserve Lines
The APCD encourages balance of residential and commercial infill within the existing urban reserve lines (URLs) and village reserve lines (VRLs), as this is consistent with the land use goals and policies of the APCD’s Clean Air Plan. Increasing density can reduce emissions and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by minimizing the number of trips and travel distances and encourage active transportation. The APCD supports the use of infill development, as it is consistent with SLOCOG’s Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy.

Subdivision or Lot Splits Outside Urban & Village Reserve Lines
The APCD is concerned with the continued small lot fracturing of lands outside of the urban and village reserve line which is inconsistent with the land use planning strategies in our Clean Air Plan (CAP). Our CAP calls for these parcels to not be spilt below 20 acres in size and instead promotes the concept of urban infill by directing growth to areas within the existing URL/VRL boundaries. Mobile sources are the largest contributor to air pollution in our county and rural parcel split projects fosters continued dependency on private auto use as the primary means of accessing essential services and other destinations. For these reasons, the APCD does not support this type of projects.

Support or opposition to mixed-use developments

Support of Mixed-Use Development
The APCD encourages mixed-use development. When people can walk or bike to nearby businesses or parks, traffic is reduced, and we create healthy communities. This is consistent with several of the APCD's land use goals and policies in the Clean Air Plan and helps meet the SB 32 and SB 375 emission reduction targets set by California legislation and the California Air Resources Board.

Incompatible Mix of Land Uses
As individual projects move forward; it is important to keep in mind that some uses may not be compatible and could result in potential nuisance problems (i.e. odors and/or dust). Therefore, it is essential that individual uses be carefully evaluated prior to issuance of a use permit. The following uses could be problematic if residential quarters are included in the same building.

  • Nail Salons
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Coffee Roasters
  • Gasoline Stations
  • Furniture refurbishing/refinishing
  • Any type of Spray Paint Operation
  • Commercial open wood cooking ovens and stoves

 

Information for Specific Projects (developing near or constructing new schools, cannabis, and wineries)

Constructing New Schools

New School Sites
The Public Resources Code Sec. 21151.8 requires any agency preparing an Environmental Impact Report or negative declaration for a proposed school site to consult with the city, county, and the APCD to identify both permitted and non-permitted facilities within one-quarter mile of the proposed school site which may emit hazardous air emissions or handle hazardous materials (e.g., pipelines). Impacts from such a facility may be significant due to increased cancer risk for the affected population, even at a very low level of emissions. If a potentially hazardous facility is within one-quarter mile of the new school site, the APCD may require a risk assessment to determine the potential level of risk associated with that school location. Information on permitted facilities is available by contacting the APCD Engineering & Compliance Division.

Developing Near Schools

School Notification - APCO Required to Notify Nearby Sensitive Receptors
Projects within 1,000 feet from the outer boundary of a school site are subject to California Health & Safety Code 42301.6. The APCO is required by law to take several actions before a final decision is made on the applicant’s permit to construct. These actions include preparing and sending a public notice to parents or guardians of children enrolled in a school that is located within one-quarter mile of the proposed new or modified source and to each address within a radius of 1,000 feet of the source at least 30 days prior to the date final action on the application is to be taken by the officer. To minimize potential delays, prior to the start of the project, please contact the APCD Engineering & Compliance Division for more specific information regarding permitting requirements.
 

Cannabis Projects

Cannabis Waste Burning is Prohibited
The Federal Government categorizes cannabis as a controlled substance; therefore, crop waste from the agricultural growing of cannabis is not eligible for an APCD burn permit and cannabis waste burning is prohibited. Verified burning of cannabis is subject to enforcement action.

Nuisance – Manufacturing/Processing & Masking/Neutralizing of Cannabis
The following are subject to the APCD’s Nuisance Rule 402 and may result in enforcement action:

  • Verified nuisance odors from manufacturing/processing; or,
  • Verified nuisance odors from masking/neutralizing agents used to control or eliminate odors related to the growing and/or manufacturing/processing of cannabis.
     

Permit – Manufacturing/Processing & Masking/Neutralizing of Cannabis
The following are subject to the APCD’s permitting requirements:

  • All cannabis manufacturing/processing facilities.
       -   Must submit an APCD Cannabis Manufacturing/Processing Authority to Construct (ATC) application prior to commencing manufacturing/processing.
       -   Prior to applying for an ATC, all facilities shall have a manufacturing license with the California Department of Public Health Manufactured Cannabis 
           Safety Branch.
  • All masking/neutralizing agents used to control or eliminate odors related to the growing and/or manufacturing/processing of cannabis.

Wineries

Nuisance Odors from Wineries
Wine production facilities can generate nuisance odors during various steps of the process. Proven methods for handling wastewater discharge and grape skin waste need to be incorporated into the winery practices to reduce off-site odor. Odor complaints could result in a violation of the SLO County APCD Rule 402, Nuisance.

Permit - Agricultural Burning
An APCD Agricultural Burn Permit is required to burn agricultural vegetation on Permissive Burn Days. For more information on agricultural burning, visit the following APCD webpage: slocleanair.org/rules-regulations/agriculture/burning.

Operational Permit Requirements
New wineries or expanding wineries with the capacity of 26,000 gallons (10,000 cases at twelve 750 milliliter bottles per case) year or more require a Permit to Operate for fermentation and storage of wine.

Operational Phase Exceedance From Dirt Roads
Based on the APCD’s spreadsheet modeling for estimating operational dust emissions from daily traffic on unmitigated unpaved roads,driveways, parking areas, and special events, winery projects could exceed the APCD’s daily operational particulate matter (PM10) emissions threshold identified in Table 3-2 of the CEQA Air Quality Handbook (April 2012). The modeling uses the California Air Resources Board’s unpaved road emission factor that is used in their statewide emissions inventory and there is a screening table reference available at: slocleanair.org/rules-regulations/land-use-ceqa.php. If a project will exceed the threshold, the APCD recommends that the project implement the on-site PM10 mitigation measures listed below.

Mitigate the unpaved access roads, driveways, and parking areas by implementing one of the following:

  • For the life of the project, pave and maintain the roads, driveways, and/or parking areas; or
  • For the life of the project, maintain the unpaved roads, driveways, and/or parking areas with a dust suppressant (See Technical Appendix 4.3 of the APCD’s CEQA Handbook for a list of APCD-approved suppressants) such that fugitive dust emissions do not exceed the APCD 20% opacity limit for greater than 3 minutes in any 60-minute period (APCD Rule 401) or prompt nuisance violations (APCD Rule 402). Also, to improve the dust suppressant’s long-term efficacy, the applicant shall also implement and maintain design standards to ensure vehicles that use the on-site unpaved road are physically limited (e.g., speed bumps) to a posted speed limit of 15 mph or less.

In addition, special events can also trigger a PM10 exceedance. The following special event mitigation shall be implemented for unpaved access roads, driveways, and parking areas on the day(s) of a special event:

  • Any unpaved site access road(s), driveway(s), that will be used for the special event shall be maintained with an APCD-approved dust suppressant (see Technical Appendix 4.3 of the APCD’s CEQA Handbook) such that fugitive dust emissions do not exceed the APCD 20% opacity limit for greater than 3 minutes in any 60-minute period (APCD Rule 401) or prompt nuisance violations (APCD Rule 402).
     
  • Designated parking locations shall be:
    - Paved when possible;
    - Planted and maintained with fast germinating, non-invasive grass or low-cut dense vegetation; or,
    - Maintained with a dust suppressant such that fugitive dust emissions do not exceed the APCD 20% opacity limit or create nuisance.
  • General site design: To improve the dust suppressant’s efficacy during and between events, the applicant shall also implement and maintain design standards to ensure vehicles that use on-site unpaved roads are physically limited (e.g., speed bumps) to a posted speed limit of 15 mph or less.

If the project’s access involves a city or county owned and maintained road, the applicant shall work with the applicable Public Works Department to ensure that the mitigation follows the agency’s road standards for that section of road. The applicant may propose other measures of equal effectiveness as replacements by contacting the APCD’s Planning Division.

 

Permitting Information and APCD Rules

Permitting Information

Permit - Agricultural Burning
An APCD Agricultural Burn Permit is required to burn agricultural vegetation on Permissive Burn Days. For more information on agricultural burning, visit the following APCD webpage: slocleanair.org/rules-regulations/agriculture/burning.

Construction Permit Requirements
Portable equipment, 50 horsepower (hp) or greater, used during construction activities may require California statewide portable equipment registration (issued by the California Air Resources Board) or an APCD permit. The following list is provided as a guide to equipment and operations that may have permitting requirements but should not be viewed as an exclusive list. For a more detailed listing, please refer to the following webpage: slocleanair.org/library/download-forms.

  • Power screens, conveyors, diesel engines, and/or crushers;
  • Portable generators and equipment with engines that are 50 hp or greater;
  • Electrical generation plants or the use of standby generators;
  • Internal combustion engines;
  • Rock and pavement crushing;
  • Unconfined abrasive blasting operations;
  • Tub grinders;
  • Trommel screens; and
  • Portable plants (e.g., aggregate plant, asphalt batch plant, concrete batch plant, etc).

Operational Permit Requirements
Operational sources may require APCD permits. The following list is provided as a guide to equipment and operations that may have permitting requirements but should not be viewed as exclusive. For a more detailed listing, please refer to the following webpage: slocleanair.org/library/download-forms.

  • Portable generators and equipment with engines that are 50 hp or greater;
  • New wineries or expanding wineries with the capacity of 26,000 gallons (10,000 cases at twelve 750 milliliter bottles per case) year or more require a Permit to Operate for fermentation and storage of wine;
  • Chemical product processing and or manufacturing;
  • Electrical generation plants or the use of standby generator;
  • Food and beverage preparation (primarily coffee roasters);
  • Furniture and fixture products;
  • Metal industries, fabrication;
  • Small scale manufacturing;
  • Auto and vehicle repair and painting facilities;
  • Fuel dealers;
  • Dry cleaning;
  • Pipelines;
  • Public utility facilities;
  • Boilers;
  • Internal combustion engines;
  • Sterilization units(s) using ethylene oxide and incinerator(s);
  • Cogeneration facilities;
  • Unconfined abrasive blasting operations;
  • Concrete batch plants;
  • Rock and pavement crushing;
  • Tub grinders; and
  • Trommel screens.

Most facilities applying for an Authority to Construct or Permit to Operate with stationary diesel engines greater than 50 hp, should be prioritized or screened for facility wide health risk impacts. A diesel engine-only facility limited to 20 non-emergency operating hours per year or has demonstrated to have overall diesel particulate emissions less than or equal to 2 lb./yr. does not need to do additional health risk assessment.

Nuisance Information

Nuisance
As defined in APCD’s Rule 402, a person shall not discharge, from any source whatsoever, such quantities of air contaminant or other material which cause injury, detriment, nuisance, or annoyance to any considerable number of persons or to the public, or which endanger the comfort, repose, health or safety of any such persons or public, or which cause or have a natural tendency to cause, injury or damage to business or property. If this project causes nuisance impacts, the project proponent needs to proactively take steps to reduce these impacts.

Nuisance - Equestrian Facility
To minimize nuisance impacts and to reduce fugitive dust emissions from equestrian facilities the following mitigation measures should be incorporated into the project:

  • Reduce the amount of the disturbed area where possible;
  • Use water trucks or sprinkler systems in sufficient quantities to prevent airborne dust emissions from exceeding the APCD 20% opacity limit for greater than 3 minutes in any 60-minute period (APCD Rule 401) or prompt nuisance violations (APCD Rule 402). Increased watering frequency whenever wind speeds exceed 15 mph. Reclaimed (non-potable) water shall be used whenever possible;
  • Permanent dust control measures shall be implemented as soon as possible following completion of any soil disturbing activities;
  • All disturbed soil areas not subject to revegetation shall be stabilized using approved chemical soil binders, jute netting, or other methods approved in advance by the APCD;
  • All access roads and parking areas associated with the facility shall be paved to reduce fugitive dust; and
  • A person or persons shall be designated to monitor for dust and implement additional control measures as necessary to prevent transport of dust offsite. The monitor's duties shall include holidays and weekend. The name and telephone number of such persons shall be provided to the APCD prior to operation of the arena.

Nuisance - Fire Pits
Recreational burning is not regulated by the APCD, but smoke from recreational fires such as backyard fire pits, bonfires, and campfires may negatively impact the health of nearby communities and may trigger complaints. Complaints of this type will be investigated & enforced according to APCD Rule 402, Nuisance. Local Fire Authorities may have additional requirements associated with recreational burning.

Rules

Developmental Burning
APCD Rule 501 prohibits developmental burning of vegetative material within San Luis Obispo County.

Residential Wood Combustion
Residential wood burning devices such as wood or pellet stoves or inserts installed in new dwelling units after May 15, 2020 shall have particulate matter emission rates not exceeding 2.0 g/hr. and must be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “Step 2” New Source Performance Standard. The list of EPA certified wood stoves and inserts can be found at epa.gov/compliance/epa-certified-wood-heater-database. Additionally, residential wood burning devices such as fireplaces must comply with APCD Rule 504 to be eligible for installation in new dwelling units. The APCD encourages the use of lower emission heating alternatives that can be used in place of wood burning devices.
 

 

Additional Resources

                - CEQA Training Activity Answer Sheet
                - CalEEMod (Winter) Hypothetical Project Report
                - CalEEMod (Annual) Hypothetical Project Report

Air Quality

Consistency analysis with the SLO County APCD’s Clean Air Plan (CAP) for program level environmental review

A Clean Air Plan (CAP) consistency analysis is generally required for a Program Level Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and may be necessary for a Project Level EIR, depending on the project being considered. Examples of projects and programs requiring a consistency analysis include: General Plan Updates and Amendments, Specific Plans, Area Plans, large residential developments and large commercial or industrial developments.

The consistency analysis should evaluate the following questions:

  1. Are the population projections used in the plan or project equal to or less than those used in the CAP (chapter 2) for the same area?
    Note: 2050 Regional Growth Forecast population data should be used in place of population projections provided in the 2001 Clean Air Plan. Use medium scenario figures 116 and 118.
  2. Is rate of increase in vehicle trips and miles traveled less than or equal to the rate of population growth for the same area?
  3. Have all applicable land use and transportation control measures (TCMs) from the CAP been included in the plan or project to the maximum extent feasible?

If the answer to all of the above questions is yes, then the proposed project or plan is considered to be consistent with the CAP. If the answer to any one of the questions is no, then the emissions reductions projected in the CAP may not be achieved, which could delay or preclude attainment of the state ozone standard. This would be considered inconsistent with the CAP.

Calculating Construction Emissions for Project Level Review

The most recent version of the California Emissions Estimator Model (CalEEMod) should be used to calculate construction emissions. This model contains emission factors for a variety of construction equipment. It will automatically generate default values for various parameters. When modeling project emissions, the user must specify that the project is located in SLO County so that the appropriate default values are used for the modeling. If more detailed information about the construction phase of the project is known, the default values should be modified to more accurately reflect the anticipated emissions from the project. CalEEMod reports submitted as part of a CEQA evaluation need to include the following:

  • a winter, summer, and annual report;
  • the model files associated with the reports; and, 
  • changes to any SLO County defaults need to be identified and a solid defensible explanation for those changes needs to be provided to the SLO County APCD.

CalEEMod will not automatically calculate import or export off-site hauling trips and associated emissions. If soil or demolition materials will need to be hauled off-site or materials will be imported, cubic yards of material and the number of truck trips will need to be entered into the model. The trip length associated with hauling also needs to be entered into the model along with a detailed explanation of the trip length. Specific truck emission factors for the hauling fleet should be included in the simulation if known. If the specific fleet is unknown at time of modeling, then a defensible worst case set of hauling fleet emission factors shall be used. This hauling component is an important step and is often overlooked resulting in under estimation of emissions.

Comparing Construction Emissions to Thresholds and Applying Mitigation

 The grading area and the calculated construction emissions should be compared to SLO County APCD Thresholds of Significance displayed in the table below:

If the above thresholds are exceeded, mitigation measures for construction emissions shall be applied to reduce construction impacts. Please see the SLO County APCD Quick Guide for Construction Mitigation Measures to determine appropriate mitigation for your project. 

Calculating Operational Emissions for Project Level Review

The most recent version of the California Emissions Estimator Model (CalEEMod) should be used to calculate operational emissions. This software incorporates the most recent vehicle emission factors from the EMFAC model (EMission FACtors) provided by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and average trip generation factors published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. This model will automatically generate default values for various parameters. When modeling project emissions, the user must specify that the project is located in SLO County so that the appropriate default values are used for the modeling. If more detailed information about the operational phase of the project is known, the default values should be modified to more accurately reflect the anticipated emissions from the project. CalEEMod reports submitted as part of a CEQA evaluation need to include the following:

 

  • A winter, summer, and annual report
  • The model files associated with the reports
  • Changes to any SLO County defaults need to be identified and a solid defensible explanation for those changes need to be provided to the SLO County APCD

Defaults that may need to be evaluated and modified based on the project location and specifications include:

  • Trip Length: For projects that are located in rural areas of the county where commercial services are not readily available, the trip length default values in the Operational – Mobile Vehicle Trips CalEEMod tab should be set at 13 miles for all trip distances; this happens automatically if the “Rural” Land Use Setting is selected.
  • Fleet Mix: Projects that attract a mix of vehicles which clearly differs from the default vehicle fleet in SLO County should make the appropriate changes to the FleetMix fraction section on the Annual, Summer, and Winter subtabs under the CalEEMod Operational – Mobile Vehicle Emissions Tab. Some examples include large commercial retail with heavy on-road truck use and heavy industry.

Comparing Operational Emissions to Thresholds and Applying Mitigation

The calculated operational emissions should be compared to SLO County APCD Thresholds of Significance displayed in the table below:

 

If the above thresholds are exceeded, mitigation measures for operational emissions should be applied to reduce operational impacts below the significance thresholds listed above. Please see the SLO County APCD Quick Guide for Operational Mitigation Measures to determine appropriate mitigation for your project. 

Determining Odor Significance

If a project has the potential to cause an odor or other nuisance problem which could impact a considerable number of people, then it may be considered significant. A project may emit a pollutant in concentrations that would not otherwise be significant except as a nuisance. Odor impacts to residential areas and other sensitive receptors warrant the closest scrutiny, but consideration should also be given to other land uses where people may congregate, such as recreational facilities, work sites and commercial areas.

If a project includes any of the proposed operations as detailed in Table 3-3 below and is within the screening level distances stated to sensitive receptors or other areas where people may congregate, the SLO County APCD Compliance Division should be contacted for information regarding potential odor problems. For new odor sources located near existing receptors, the information request and analysis should be based on a review of odor complaints for similar facilities. The Lead Agency should evaluate facilities not included in Table 3-3 or projects separated by greater distances than indicated in Table 3-3 if warranted by local conditions or special circumstances. The list is provided as a guide and, as such, is not all-inclusive.

Table 3-3: Project Screening Distances for Nuisance Sources

 

Greenhouse Gases

Calculating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Project Level Review

The SLO County APCD recommends using the most recent version of the California Emissions Estimator Model (CalEEMod) to calculate greenhouse gas emissions for both construction and operational phases. This software incorporates the most recent vehicle emission factors from the EMFAC model (EMission FACtors) provided by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and average trip generation factors published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

The SLO County APCD recommends amortizing construction related GHG emissions over the life of the plan/project and adding amortized construction emissions to annual operational emissions for the purpose of providing a mechanism for the plan/project to mitigate these impacts alongside operational impacts. In the 2021 Interim CEQA GHG Guidance document, the SLO County APCD recommends a project lifetime for residential projects of 30 years and establishes a recommended project life for mixed use projects to also be 30 years. This aligns with recommendations from South Coast AQMD, project lives used by Environmental Leadership Land Use Development Projects seeking judicial CEQA streamlining under AB 900, and recommendations by the International Energy Agency in their March 2008 Information Paper entitled, Energy Efficiency Requirements in Building Codes, Energy Efficiency Policies for New Buildings. The SLO County APCD Handbook’s 25-year project life for strictly commercial projects is still recommended by APCD. Lead agencies can consider allowing appropriate alternative project lives.

CalEEMod will automatically generate default values for various parameters. When modeling project emissions, the user must specify that the project is located in SLO County so that the appropriate default values are used for the modeling. If more detailed information about the construction and operational phase of the project is known, the default values should be modified to more accurately reflect the anticipated emissions from the project. CalEEMod reports submitted as part of a CEQA evaluation need to include the following:

  • A winter, summer, and annual report
  • The model files associated with the reports
  • Changes to any SLO County defaults need to be identified and a solid defensible explanation for those changes need to be provided to the SLO County APCD

Defaults that may need to be evaluated and modified based on the project location and specifications include:

  • Actual Construction Equipment List and Phase Lengths: If more detailed site-specific equipment and phase information is known (i.e., data from the project applicant) the model’s default values should be overridden.
  • Off-Site Hauling Trips: CalEEMod will not automatically calculate import or export off-site hauling trips and associated emissions. If soil or demolition materials will need to be hauled off-site or materials will be imported, cubic yards of material and the number of truck trips will need to be entered into the model. The trip length associated with hauling also needs to be entered into the model along with a detailed explanation of the trip length. Specific truck emission factors for the hauling fleet should be included in the simulation if known. If the specific fleet is unknown at time of modeling, then a defensible worst case set of hauling fleet emission factors shall be used. This hauling component is an important step and is often overlooked resulting in under estimation of emissions.
  • Trip Length: For projects that are located in rural areas of the county where commercial services are not readily available, the trip length default values in the Operational – Mobile Vehicle Trips CalEEMod tab should be set at 13 miles for all trip distances; this happens automatically if the “Rural” Land Use Setting is selected.
  • Fleet Mix: Projects that attract a mix of vehicles which clearly differs from the default vehicle fleet in SLO County should make the appropriate changes to the FleetMix fraction section on the Annual, Summer, and Winter subtabs under the CalEEMod Operational – Mobile Vehicle Emissions Tab. Some examples include large commercial retail with heavy on-road truck use and heavy industry.
  • Electricity Emissions: CalEEMod does not include Central Coast Community Energy (3CE) as a utility company choice; therefore, users must select “User Defined” and manually enter energy intensity factors. For projects served by PG&E, the energy intensity factors included in CalEEMod are based on 2009 data by default at which time PG&E had only achieved a 14.1 percent procurement of renewable energy. Per SB 100, the Statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program requires electricity providers to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy sources to 33 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2030. Users should use the most recent energy intensity factors for PG&E.
  • Title 24: Energy emissions should also be adjusted to account for the effects of new iterations of Title 24. For example, CalEEMod version 2016.3.2 does not account for the requirements of the 2019 Title 24 standards, which went into effect on January 1, 2020.
  • Local and State Mandatory Solar Provisions: In accordance with Section 150.1(b)14 of the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, all new residential uses three stories or less must install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that generate an amount of electricity equal to expected electricity usage. The calculation method contained in Section 150.1(b)14 of the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards should be utilized to estimate the number of kilowatts of PV solar panels that would be required for a residential project three stories or less. In addition, modeling should account for local regulations pertaining to mandatory solar provisions. The energy reduction achieved by on‐site PV solar panels should be included in CalEEMod.
  • Water and Wastewater Emissions: New development will be subject to CalGreen, which requires a 20 percent increase in indoor water use efficiency. Thus, in order to account for compliance with CalGreen, a 20 percent reduction in indoor water use should be included in the water consumption calculations for new residential, non‐residential, and mixed‐use development. In addition to water reductions associated with building code compliance and project design features, the GHG emissions from the energy used to transport the water for development should also account for compliance with the RPS using the guidance provided under “Energy Use Emissions.” 

Comparing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Thresholds and Applying Mitigation and Analyzing Project Consistency with GHG Reducing Plans, Policies, or Regulations

On March 28th, 2012, the SLO County APCD Board adopted the Greenhouse Gas thresholds shown in the table below. The SLO County APCD’s bright-line threshold of 1,150 MT CO2e /yr and the efficiency threshold of 4.9 MT CO2e /yr per service population were applicable to residential and commercial projects. These thresholds were based on a gap analysis and were used in CEQA evaluations for projects to demonstrate their consistency with the state’s 2020 GHG emission reduction goal from the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and the 2008 California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Climate Change Scoping Plan. In 2015, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion in the Center for Biological Diversity vs California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Newhall Ranch) which determined that AB 32 based thresholds derived from a gap analysis are invalid for projects with a planning horizon beyond 2020. Since the bright-line and service population GHG thresholds in the SLO County APCD Handbook are AB 32 based and project horizons are now beyond 2020, the SLO County APCD does not recommend the use of these thresholds in CEQA evaluations.

SLO County APCD Greenhouse Gas Thresholds (1)

(1) Supporting substantial evidence for the March 28th, 2012 adoption of these thresholds can be found through the following links: Greenhouse Gas CEQA Thresholds of Significance Initial Study; Greenhouse Gas Emission Thresholds for CEQA Board Staff Report; Board Presentation, March 28, 2012

SLO County APCD staff developed a 2021 Interim CEQA GHG Guidance document to provide administrative clarification on the SLO County APCD Handbook’s thresholds of significance for GHG emissions and to provide information on current trends, best practices, and legislation. The document also provides guidance on analyzing project consistency with GHG reducing plans, policies, or regulations. This document may evolve over time as land use and related GHG reduction strategies, executive orders, legislation, etc. change. It is the responsibility of lead agencies to determine if a project is adequately mitigated or if findings of significant and unavoidable impacts are necessary.