How to Stop a Project Made Easy: CEQA for Citizens

Ordinary people (who are not lawyers or planners) are rarely aware of how the law requires them to object to a project. If you fail to do it correctly, you lose your right to sue to stop the project.

HOPE has just made available the first CEQA Checklist for ordinary people (non-lawyers or planners). It allows you to properly object to an environmentally harmful proposal as California law requires. It takes only seconds to complete and a few more moments to email or fax to the agency in charge.


Once filled out and delivered, the checklist puts the agency on notice that you have obtained all legal rights to litigate their environmentally harmful proposal.

It explicitly provides you with the legal rights of “Standing” and “Exhaustion of Administrative remedies” so you may sue the agency for failing to adequately comply with CEQA.

It also requires an agency to notify you – send you all notices related to this project. The notices must be sent meaningfully in advance of any government decision.

The form is free.

It only works for projects in California, though it could be easily adapted for other states and for Federal projects.

The reason this works is that almost every project in California is approved illegally. Of course that’s my experience, but it is (privately) confirmed by dozens of the best Planners and environmental professionals.

If you doubt this – next time you talk with a good Planner or CEQA attorney ask them (offer an understanding of confidentiality) “Have you ever seen an Environmental Impact Report that was fully legal?”

The reason is not that it is impossible or even difficult to comply with CEQA, it can be done almost easily; its that most Developers and Resource Extractors (DREGs) don’t want the harms of their projects exposed and that most planners are incompetent and easily pushed to make political decisions for fear of losing their job.

A second reason is that DREGs are accustomed to getting away with breaking the law- CEQA, ESA and California’s Coastal Protection Act.

Unless members of the public challenge the staff and the actions – they will continue to flaunt the law. So get our free CEQA form, fill it in and send it in.

Good wishes,
David Dilworth, for the Trustees of
Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment



HOPE – Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment provides this these Citizen Participation Tools, insightful news and other valuable resources free of charge to the public even though it costs our organization considerable time and money to produce it.

We would like to continue to provide this service for free that brings you the best available science and law and the highest quality research.

You can help right now by making a tax-deductible contribution. Please send your tax-deductible contribution (anything you can afford, whether $1.00 or $10,000) to: HOPE, P.O. Box 1495, Carmel, Ca 93921.

For further information about making tax-deductible contributions to HOPE by credit card please phone us at 1-831-624-6500.

Thank you,
-David Dilworth, for the Board of Trustees

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2 Responses to How to Stop a Project Made Easy: CEQA for Citizens

  1. Jeff Carlson says:

    Hi people – We’ve reached a stage in the CEQA process where it isn’t clear what strategy will serve us best, and I’m wondering if you could answer a question for us or point me to someone who can. We have a crony city/county network pushing a terrible cement plant project onto a coastal site with low income residential neighborhoods downwind. It looks likely they have a bare majority on the Vallejo council who will vote for an SOC. We are in the comment period for the draft EIR.

    I began the process of going through the 700+ pages for deficiencies and quickly realized I’d be helping them write a bulletproof final EIR if I give them all the specific comments and questions at this stage. I can delay it and cost them and maybe make them recirculate, but that’s all. It seems it might be better to give them the bare minimum required to have standing and save the specifics for a court challenge. Is the checklist form linked to your site all that would be required to later mount challenges based on specific deficiencies in the EIR? Any thoughts based on your experience on strategy with regard to CEQA when the intent is actually to kill a bad project? Thanks for your good work.

    • David says:

      Thank you for your note.

      If you want to stop/kill the project, you need to get a majority of votes from Vallejo’s council.

      That’s usually a formidable task with the short time frame of a project approval looming.

      Sorry, but Yes, you do have to give them the opportunity to correct any deficiencies for the Final EIR.

      CEQA is about disclosing the potential impacts so the public and decision makers can understand it before approvals.

      Since you are confident the project will get approved, your job becomes preparing now to convince a Superior Court Judge that Vallejo has violated even the bare minimum requirements for disclosure and analysis required by CEQA.

      Do use HOPE’s form or lift the language from it for your own comment letters.

      This is not a game of “got ya.” If you do not give them the opportunity to correct any deficiencies for the Final EIR the court has no reason to rule in your favor.

      Sadly, DREGs (Developers, Resource Extractors and Governments) rarely do pay ANY attention to comments from the public which is why it is so easy to win CEQA lawsuits. They typically arrogantly believe (not “think”) that no one except they are experts in environmental impacts, CEQA or the project.

      So, use the form, explain the impacts using language that a fairly disinterested Judge can understand and cannot ignore.

      If it costs them time (years) and money (including your attorney’s fees) to correct CEQA – EIR deficiencies – that was THEIR choice.

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