California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Subdivision Map Review Procedures

Generally, a subdivision is any division of land for sale, lease, or financing and is governed by the Subdivision Map Act (Map Act). The Map Act distinguishes between major (five or more parcels) and minor (four or less) subdivisions. Five or more parcels require a tentative and a final map. Those subdivisions consisting of four or less parcels require a parcel map. Tentative map filing must comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements. Statutory exemptions to the Map Act include such categories of land use as agricultural leases and wind-powered electrical generation facilities.

The lead agency is under no requirement to refer final maps to governmental agencies for further CEQA review other than affected school districts. The approval of a final map is ministerial as long as it conforms to all the conditions of approval attached to the tentative map.

The Map Act procedures provide the opportunity for integrating fish and wildlife protective provisions as conditions for approval of tentative maps or parcel maps through the CEQA process. The appropriate Regional office is responsible for:

  1. Establishing a direct contact with local agencies processing tentative maps with a request to be notified of pending tracts.
  2. Checking proposed maps against resource inventory data sources.
  3. Preparing comment letters with recommendations to the lead agency.
  4. Establishing mutually beneficial working partnerships with local governmental planning staffs to develop a long_term plan for fish and wildlife and other sensitive resource protection as a specific element of the local general plan thereby ensuring that map approval is consistent with all plan elements.

For approval of tentative subdivision or parcel maps, the proposed subdivision and the provisions for its design and improvement must be consistent with the general plan or any applicable specific plan. Local government may deny a tentative map or parcel map if findings conclude that the design or proposed improvements are likely to cause substantial environmental damage, or substantially injure fish, wildlife, or their habitat (GC 66474[e]).

A tentative or parcel map for which significant environmental effects have been identified may be approved if an environmental impact report (EIR) was prepared for the project and a finding was made under Section 21081 (c) of PRC. Findings under this section must be that specific economic, social, or other considerations make the mitigation measures or project alternatives identified in the EIR infeasible (GC 66474.01, 1986). For example, local government may deny a tentative map if discharge of waste from the proposed subdivision would violate existing Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements (GC 66474.6).

Email Link Contact CEQA Program – CDFW staff cannot make decisions or intercede on CEQA projects under the jurisdiction of another lead agency. Please address project-specific comments to the project's lead agency.