The third step involves public notification and review of the proposed CEQA document. If the Initial Study shows that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment, then the Lead Agency must prepare and circulate a Notice of its Intent to adopt a Negative Declaration (or Mitigated Negative Declaration) and circulate it to the public and to certain public agencies for their review. The notice must also be given to the county clerk for posting. Notifying the public typically refers to sending copies of the Negative Declaration and Initial Study to any parties that may have an interest in reviewing the information (see State Clearinghouse Distribution and Review Period below). This includes the State Clearinghouse and other local entities such as local print media, public agencies, adjacent jurisdictions or community-based organizations, etc. Each local planning department typically has a list of entities requiring CEQA notification.
Copies of the proposed Negative Declaration/Mitigated Negative Declaration and the Initial Study must be delivered to the State Clearinghouse for distribution to state agencies. The Lead Agency must circulate the Negative Declaration/Mitigated Negative Declaration for a 30-day review period and must be ready for adoption by within 105 days after a completed application is accepted.
- Negative Declaration–Here is an example of a resolution approving a Negative Declaration.
- Multiple Jurisdictions–In cases of multiple jurisdictions, individual member jurisdictions must prepare a resolution with language to indicate they have considered the Negative Declaration prepared for the RMDZ project.
- Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration
- Resolution Approving the Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration
If the Initial Study shows that the project may have one or more significant effects, the Lead Agency must circulate a Notice of Preparation in anticipation of preparing an EIR and must consult with responsible and trustee agencies as to the content of the environmental analysis.
State Clearinghouse Distribution and Review Period
Lead agencies are required to send environmental documents, i.e., (Negative Declarations and Notices of Determination) to the State Clearinghouse (SCH), pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Sections 15205 and 15206. Lead agencies must submit these documents to:
P.O. Box 3044
1400 Tenth Street, Suite 222
Sacramento, CA 95812-3044
Lead Agencies must submit a completed Notice of Completion form with the 15 copies of the draft Negative Declaration and Initial Study. This form facilitates the processing of environmental documents and SCH circulates it to state agencies together with the Negative Declaration. SCH will enter the information from the NOC form into their database. Whenever SCH receives a Negative Declaration for distribution, a staff analyst assigns an SCH number to the project. If the project already has a number from a previous submittal of an environmental document, the Lead Agency should reference the previously assigned SCH number. This is particularly important for Zone renewals and expansions.
Next, analysts review the document to determine its scope and to identify the state agencies that should receive it for review. SCH will distribute the document to any responsible or trustee state agencies and to any other agencies that may have relevant expertise in the subject or otherwise have a reason to review the document.
The SCH analyst sets the review dates and attaches a distribution list to the Notice of Completion form. SCH then distributes the documents to the selected agencies for review and comment. Finally, the analyst sends an acknowledgement of receipt, containing the assigned review period, to the Lead Agency.
The normal review period for Negative Declarations submitted to SCH is 30 calendar days (see CEQA Guidelines, Section 15105). The review period begins when SCH circulates the document, which is usually the day of receipt. SCH calculates specific review dates by counting as “day 1” the date on which the SCH distributes the document and concluding on the 30th calendar day thereafter. SCH may grant a shortened review period of not less than 20 days under special circumstances. Lead Agencies may provide for a longer review period.
After SCH has distributed a Negative Declaration to state agencies, those agencies assign the document to staff members for review, analysis, and comment. Agencies normally forward comments to SCH prior to the end of the assigned review period. Occasionally, state agencies may request an extension of a review period. SCH grants reasonable requests for extensions. The SCH will notify the Lead Agency upon approval of an extension.
SCH collects all comments from the reviewing state agencies at the end of the state review period. Then they forward a closing letter and a complete package of comments to the Lead Agency on the day following the close of the review period.