State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process identifies and analyzes environmental impacts associated with governmental decisions. These decisions may be related to issuing permits for private projects, constructing public facilities, or adopting regulations, policies, and plans.

The SEPA review process helps agency decision-makers, applicants, and the public understand how a development proposal will affect the environment. SEPA can be used to modify or deny a proposal to avoid, reduce, or compensate for probable impacts. 

SEPA review may be required with your project permit if your project involves:

  • New Commercial buildings
  • Change of use within an existing building
  • Grading over 100 cubic yards
  • Creating 20 or more new parking stalls 
  • Work within Critical Areas

Procedural requirements

SEPA requires that agencies:

  • Consider environmental information, including impacts, alternatives, and mitigation.
  • Identify and evaluate probable environmental impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures.
  • Encourage public involvement with noticing requirements.
  • Prepare environmental documents that are concise, clear, and to the point.
  • Integrate SEPA with Project permit review to ensure  decisions reflect environmental values, avoid delays later in the process, and seek to resolve potential problems.

SEPA starts with completion of a SEPA Checklist (DOCX).  When conducting SEPA review, the Responsible Official will decide if a determination of significance, mitigate determination of non-significance, determination of non-significance is appropriate, or determine if the project is exempt from SEPA review based on the scope and proposed impacts of your project. 

If a determination of significance is made, then SEPA review will be completed through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS review process requires a number of additional steps and review requirements. In most cases, a determination of non-significance means that your project may have impacts, but those impacts may be mitigated by conditions placed on the project.