Area residents meet to hear tips on making comments on extension plans.
By Sara Cardine, March 4, 2015
The 710 Freeway, pictured on Thursday, January 28, 2010.
Locals put weekend plans on hold Saturday morning, crowding into La
Cañada’s City Council chambers to learn how to harness people power in
anticipation of the release of the California Department of
Transportation’s proposed 710 Freeway extension project.
by the city of La Cañada Flintridge and spearheaded by local activist
Jan Soo Hoo, the event was not intended to be a discussion of the merits
of the project’s five alternatives — which include a light-rail option
as well as a 4.2-mile, dual-bore tunnel — but rather a sort of primer on
submitting effective questions and concerns in the massive document’s
public comment window.
Civic leaders, including Mayor Pro Tem Don Voss and former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino,
peppered an audience of about 50 people who turned out to hear tips
provided by Delaine Shane, who’s spent decades preparing environmental
documents for the public and private sectors but spoke Saturday as a
Portantino encouraged citizens to not be
deterred by the bulk of the project’s environmental impact report,
expected to be thousands of pages long, and to share their viewpoints on
something that will affect communities well beyond the corridor.
have a lot of money, but we have a lot of people power. And people
power trumps money interests all day long,” he said. “This may look like
a daunting task, but it’s a winnable fight.”
Shane provided a
history of environmental rules, including the California Environmental
Quality Act (CEQA), which guides how the potential impacts of projects
are judged. She suggested people who make comments focus on one key
aspect of the EIR that interests or pertains to them.
comments are a vital part of the EIR process, Shane explained, since
citizens likely know their neighborhoods better than the agencies
examining the health and environmental risks of a plan.
your communities far better than many of the planners who are writing
this document,” she added. “That gives you an edge on them, because if
you see something they missed… that’s a big inadequacy.”
offered other tips for writing effective comments, advising participants
to set a schedule, research selected issues deeply and visit locations
before writing a letter or email that focuses on discrepancies in the
document’s facts, lapses in logic or lack of evidence.
La Cañada resident Leslie Miller, who teaches AP environmental science
at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, said she’s been following news on
the 710 and planned to comment on the project’s use of energy resources.
isn’t Miller’s first time drafting an EIR comment — she recently penned
one related to FSHA’s master plan — but she said she learned a lot from
Shane’s presentation, and hoped to involve her students in the process.
“I’ve talked about this briefly in class before, but now that this is going on, I’ll definitely be using it,” Miller said.
encouraged all those who planned to write comment letters to include
the No on 710 Action Committee and city leaders in their correspondence.
Another workshop might be scheduled to help people focus their
comments, once the EIR is released, which Caltrans officials reported
would be soon forthcoming.
For more information on the 710 Freeway extension project, and news updates on the release, visit www.no710.com, or alternatively, www.710coalition.com.