WesPac Scoping Meeting
We recently sent out a message about the July 22nd 2015 Scoping Meeting for the proposed WesPac project. The newsletter was packed with links and information about the Notice of Preparation and the public comment letters, and there was so much to read that it made our heads spin!
So we wanted to explain a little more about what the scoping meeting actually is so we can all be more prepared on the day! Essentially, ‘scoping’ is the process of gathering all of the information that will be used in the Environmental Impact Report, also called an ‘EIR’. It’ll shape what that report will examine and present to our city council about the proposed project. Deciding on the scope of the EIR allows the agency that’s proposing the project – in this case, WesPac – to inform the community about the project’s impact on our environment and to request feedback from us.
This is really important: by law, they have to request, accept, and consider our feedback on their project!
For the city, it’s also a time to get our input on alternatives to the project and to understand the parts of the project that we’re especially concerned about and that should be looked at closely.
So this is our time to make our voices heard!
And we can do it in one of two ways:
1. we can attend the meeting in person and fill out a comment card, saying that we want to speak with the city council.
2. we can submit our comments in writing (by letter or by email) to the city council without having to speak at the meeting directly.
Some folks feel comfortable standing up at meetings to speak and some don’t. We know how that feels! But it’s important to make our voices heard – whether in person or by letter!
The scoping meeting might be formal – with WesPac’s representatives giving us a presentation – or it might be more informal, with displays and maps and a chance to talk one-on-one with them. We don’t know yet how it’ll play out. But we do know that they have to listen to our thoughts on alternatives and our concerns on the environmental impacts of their project.
If you are excited to speak at the scoping meeting, here’s what you should consider:
1. WesPac doesn’t necessarily have to offer all of the details of the project at this time.
2. Questions and comments should address a specific point of concern about the project. For example, consider this question: ‘I am concerned about the possibility of the oil fires at the proposed site. What measures are you taking to guarantee the safety of my home and my family?’ This is way more effective than saying ‘I am worried about this project and don’t want it near my home.’ See the difference?
3. It’s really helpful if you write out what you’re going say in advance and have a copy to hand to the city council for their records. That way, you can remember exactly what you wanted to say and there’ll be no confusion later on about the points you made!
But what if you don’t want to speak at the meeting? That’s totally fine! It’s easy to send in your comments to the city council. We have a template to help you write your own public comment letter – click here to download it as a Word document or a PDF. And here’s what a public comment letter should look like:
1. Start by introducing yourself Give your name, where you live, why you’re writing, and the issue of concern you have. Keep it specific and short, and avoid stating opinions or beliefs.
2. Describe why you are concerned about the issue. Is your home endangered by the project? Do you go to church near the project? Do you have children in school near to the site of the project? Do you own a business that might suffer?
3. Describe why you think your issue of concern is a problem. For example, if you are worried about explosions at the oil tanks, point to reports about similar incidents that support your argument.
4. Offer alternatives. Think about how the project could be made safer or better and outline your thoughts. Or, if you think that this project cannot be safe, offer reasons why you think this is so. These reasons might be to do with the location – being so close to our homes, churches, schools and downtown areas…
And remember: even if you think you only have a minor concern, make your point! You have a right to be heard! And only issues that are considered to be of ‘significant community concern’ will be addressed, so the more people who comment and ask for issues to be studied, the better!
Don’t forget to download our FREE template – in Word document or PDF format!
If you’d like to see some of the public comment letters from the last time around, they’re available here:
We hope this newsletter helps demystify what a Scoping Meeting is and how you can be part of the process. Please join us on for the meeting to provide your critical input into the areas of concern that should be addressed.
Where: Pittsburg City Hall – 65 Civic Avenue, Pittsburg, CA 94565
Date: July 22, 2015
Can’t wait to see you there!