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Real Estate Law

CEQA Initial Study Checklist – Population and Housing


This series of questions deals with a project’s effect on increasing population growth either directly (developing new housing and businesses), or indirectly (by extending new infrastructure into undeveloped areas). It also deals with the displacement of housing and people that may be caused by a project.


Would the project:

(a) Induce substantial population growth in an area, either directly (for example, by proposing new homes and businesses) or indirectly (for example, through extension of roads or other infrastructure)?

1. Determining the Scope of the Question

In the context of this question, there are two factors that influence population growth: the first is by developing new homes and businesses that would draw people to an area; and the second is by extending infrastructure (i.e. roads, sewers, water lines, utilities etc.) into an area that is underdeveloped or undeveloped.

In both cases, the population growth would be considered “substantial” if it caused population growth that could not be supported by existing or new services (such as fire protection, police protection, schools, utilities, and other essential services).

2. Where to Find the Factual Data to Answer the Question

The information to respond to this question would most likely come through the review of the project by the local public service providers that is intended to ensure that population growth does not outpace the ability to provide public services.

Some of the information sources would include, but not be limited to:

The local agency’s general plan.

Capital Improvement Plans prepared by the local agency.

Growth control strategies or plans.

Master plans for sewer, water, drainage facilities, utilities etc. prepared by the agencies that provide those services.

It is recommended that the California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) website be consulted to see if there is any information related to this question.

The Initial Study Checklist will determine what type of CEQA document will be required for a project, whether it be a Negative Declaration, a Mitigated Negative Declaration, or an Environmental Impact Report. The questions posed in the Initial Study Checklist can also serve as significance threshold in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report.