Byline: Susan LaTempa
How many employee hours are lost every year to California's air pollution?
There is a way to save money and go green. That's why Liberty Hill has helped to support and facilitate a coalition of environmental justice organizations who are promoting a policy to “Clean Up and Green Up” three toxic hot spot communities where pollution is worst. By establishing pilot “Green Zones” in Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington—all neighborhoods with high concentrations of hazardous pollutants—the initiative would provide financial and technical assistance to small businesses to modernize their operations and reduce impacts, while setting stronger standards for new and expanded industries.
In a major City Hall victory, on May 15, the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee voted in favor of the Clean Up Green Up motion. With the vote, PLUM Committee Chair Ed Reyes and Councilmember Jose Huizar directed City departments to draft a work plan for developing Clean Up Green Up strategies and policy recommendations in Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington.
More than 150 supporters attended a pre-hearing rally and the hearing itself. Residents from the three Clean Up Green Up communities gathered on the sunny Spring Street steps, carrying brightly-colored signs and banners in support of clean, healthy communities. Councilmember Jose Huizar, who sponsored the Clean Up Green Up motion, spoke of the need for government, communities and businesses to work together. He praised the policy as an innovation that might serve as a model across the United States. "It's about building strong, healthy and economically viable communities by addressing pollution and identifying resources and support for businesses," he said.
Also appearing at the rally: Councilmember Eric Garcetti; Leonardo Vilchis, Co-Executive Director of Union de Vecinos ; Janet Laredo, student leader at Banning High School, Wilmington; Dina Cervantes, Business Owner, Triumph Precision Products in San Fernando; and Adrian Martinez, Natural Resources Defense Council.
At the hearing Jose Huizar introduced the motion and then commented on how forward-looking the proposed policy is because it combinines economic development incentives with familiar local planning tools. He said the initiative is grounded in collaboration among residents, community groups, government and business. His concluding remarks touched on the historic significance of the Clean Up Green Up policy in that it addresses pollution at the local level by drawing upon the City's unique powers and resources.
City Planner Faisal Roble spoke about the need to address incompatible uses in new ways and described the value of Clean Up Green Up performance standards for future updates of community plans as well as for use in the proposed Health and Wellness Element to the City's General Plan.
Other speakers included Nury Martinez, Executive Director, Pacoima Beautiful; Jim Sadd, PhD, Professor, Occidental College; Manuel Pastor, PhD, Professor, USC Program for Environmental & Regional Equity; Don Spivack, LA Collaborative consultant; Jane Warner, President and CEO, American Lung Association in California; Mario Rosales, Pacoima resident; Alfred Carrillo, Wilmington resident and Pastor, Apostolic Faith Church; Dina Cervantes, Owner, Triumph Precision Products; Michelle Garakian, Vice-President of Programs and Policy, LA Business Council; amd Joe Lyou, Executive Director, Coalition for Clean Air.
Not surprisingly, there were some opposition speakers. Both committee members pointed out that the hearing represents the first step in a longer process and many of their concerns would be addressed as the Planning Department engages the impacted communities and sectors as part of the policy development process.
In the end, the PLUM Committee directed the Planning Department to take the lead with other departments to develop recommendations to implement Clean Up Green Up strategies and policy provisions in Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington including but not limited to:
• Financial and planning incentives
• Inspection and enforcement protocols
• Administrative funding mechanisms; and
• Design standards.
The Planning Department was directed to report back to the PLUM Committee within 60 days. The City Administrative Office was directed to work with the Planning Department to prepare a report within 60 days that provides a cost estimate to implement the Clean Up Green Up strategies and policy recommendations.
A separate motion was also passed by the PLUM Committee directing the City Attorney to prepare within the same 60 day period an ordinance to create a trust fund allowing the City to accept and disburse funds, including donations from private donors, philanthropic and other contributions, for the development and implementation of Clean Up and Green Up strategies.
This report is adapted from the Clean Up and Green Up newsletter.