A quick primer on NDs and MNDs

A Negative Declaration (Neg Dec or ND) is prepared by the lead agency when they believe the project will have no significant environmental impacts.  

Similarly, the lead agency prepares a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) if additional revisions and mitigation measures would result in the project having either no impact or a less than significant environmental impact. 

Purpose of the Initial Study

The lead agency will first conduct an Initial Study (IS) to determine if the project may have a significant effect on the environment. The ND or MND are prepared by the lead agency after the Initial Study is prepared. The Initial Study must show that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment before an ND can be used. For an MND, the Initial Study must show that revisions to the project plans would adequately avoid or mitigate the effects of the project.    

The Initial Study accompanies the ND or the MND in the public review period. Because the Initial Study contains the analysis for the project, any comments will address both documents. 

More on Negative Declations

Official definitions


“Negative declaration” means a written statement briefly describing the reasons that a proposed project will not have a significant effect on the environment and does not require the preparation of an environmental impact report. 


  “Mitigated negative declaration“ means a negative declaration prepared for a project when the initial study has identified potentially significant effects on the environment, but (1) revisions in the project plans or proposals made by, or agreed to by, the applicant before the proposed negative declaration and initial study are released for public review would avoid the effects or mitigate the effects to a point where clearly no significant effect on the environment would occur, and (2) there is no substantial evidence in light of the whole record before the public agency that the project, as revised, may have a significant effect on the environment.  

Requirements of the ND/MND

  • A brief description of the project, including a commonly used name for the project 
  • The location of the project, preferably shown on a map, and the name of the project proponent 
  • A proposed finding that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment 
  • An attached copy of the Initial Study documenting reasons to support the finding 
  • Mitigation measures, if any, included in the project to avoid potentially significant effects

Engaging with the ND or MND

Notice of Intent to Adopt an ND or MND 

The lead agency will file a Notice of Intent to Adopt an ND or MND, which begins a public review period of at least 20 days. It is posted on CEQAnet, along with the ND or MND. The notice will also be sent to relevant agencies and members of the public that have demonstrated their interest. 

Any organization or individual that specifically requests notification is entitled to be notified. Negative Declarations rely upon the information provided in an IS. Thus, if you are interested in commenting on the IS and ND, request in advance that the lead agency notify you when the IS is completed. Direct mailing to the owners and occupants of property contiguous to the project will be notified and owners of such property shall be identified as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll. 

Comment letters

The public’s main way to engage in this process is by submitting written comment letters during the public review period. 

These comments address the shortcomings of the Negative Declaration and are addressed directly to the lead agency. The Initial Study accompanies the ND or MND and provides the analysis for the project. The comments will address both the IS and the ND or MND. Although the lead agency is required to consider all the comments, they are not required to respond. For more information on how to craft effective comment letters, visit the Writing Comment Letters section of the toolkit. 

Comment and engagement period

The public review period for the ND or MND is at least 20 days. Comments can be submitted at any time during this review period.  

  • The public review period for a proposed negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration shall be not less than 20 days. When a proposed negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration is submitted to the State Clearinghouse (SCH) for review by state agencies, the public review period shall not be less than 30 days, unless a shorter period, not less than 20 days, is approved by the State Clearinghouse. (§ 21091. (b)) 
  • An ND or MND is submitted to SCH when the project comes under the jurisdiction of a state agency. Most often this is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which serves as trustee for California’s natural biological resources. This lengthens the review period to at least 30 days (without an approval for a shorter period). 
  • Prior to adopting an ND at the end of the review period, the lead agency must consider the comments received. A response to the comments is not required.