Into the Vortex: The Ever Expanding Reach of the CEQA Administrative Record


Speakers:  Ricia Hager and Ginetta Giovinco

Ricia Hager, JD is a Partner at Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart where she practices environmental law, land use law, and public law. Her clients include regional and local government agencies.  Ms. Hager advises clients on all aspects of the California Environmental Quality Act and state and federal laws regulating air quality, water quality, endangered species, and historic resources. Ms. Hager has successfully defended environmental challenges in federal and state courts, both at the trial court and appellate levels.


Ginetta Giovinco is a shareholder in the Litigation and Coastal Law Departments at Richards, Watson & Gershon, APC, and is Chair of the Firm’s Coastal Department.  Ginetta specializes in land use, including both advisory work and litigation, with an emphasis on matters involving the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Coastal Act.  Ginetta has obtained several published appellate court decision victories. She also regularly advises public agencies on CEQA compliance in connection with the processing of initial studies, negative declarations, and environmental impact reports.


Topic Overview: 

At its core, the CEQA administrative record is intended to include all those items that a lead agency actually reviews and relies upon in its decision-making process. Recent case law suggests, however, that the scope of the administrative record is evolving to reach outside the files of the lead agency and into the files of other entities – such as the consultants who assist in the preparation of project plans or the CEQA document.  This presentation will address the ongoing evolution of issues such as document retention, the pros and cons of emails, implications when a lead agency directly contracts with consultants, the differences between public agency sponsored projects and private applicant proposals, “screencheck” drafts, and transparency issues under the Public Records Act.  Through this discussion, attendees will learn best practices for document management and take home a better understanding of what may fall within the scope of the administrative record.