Wilmington activist Jesse Marquez can rattle off a list of projects that are proposed or under review in and around the port community – from new storage tanks and pipelines to a massive rail yard.
And that’s in addition to the existing industrial uses that have long defined Wilmington, including oil refineries and drilling operations, shipping container storage and auto repair and salvage sites.
And so Marquez is among those throwing his support behind a proposed pilot program designed to offset some of the negative environmental effects of heavy industry in Wilmington and two other local communities.
The so-called Clean Up Green Up initiative – which won support in January from the Los Angeles City Council – is expected to start making its way next year through the city bureaucracy.
On Tuesday, residents and others will have a chance to learn more and offer their feedback at a 6 p.m. meeting at the Wilmington Senior Center. Marquez’s Coalition for a Safe Environment – he’s the executive director – organized the event along with the group Communities for a Better Environment.
“We have the cumulative effects of new projects and existing projects,” Marquez said of Wilmington. “We just can’t take it any more. It’s just too much to handle. … What we’re saying is, we need to be able to declare certain communities environmental justice protection zones.”
That’s essentially the goal of the Clean Up Green Up strategies being considered for Wilmington along with Boyle Heights and Pacoima – all characterized as “toxic hot-spot” areas that have an overabundance of polluting businesses in mostly low-income communities of color. Research has shown that poor air quality can lead to an increase in premature births, low birth-weight babies, lung disease and cancer, among other ailments. The Clean Up Green Up initiative could provide financial and other incentives to businesses that propose making changes – whether it be replacing old equipment or pursuing a complete rehabilitation plan – and require that community benefit projects be a part of the equation. In addition, Clean Up Green Up could suggest new land-use rules for businesses moving into the areas and existing ones that want to expand.
Another goal: to encourage the growth of “green” industries, such as renewable energy firms, in these so-called hot spots.
“We’d like to see this kind of new infrastructure get into our communities,” said Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment.
“These communities have been hammered, and there’s been kind of a piecemeal approach” to dealing with the adverse environmental effects, he said.
In Wilmington in particular, Gallegos said he’s heard “a lot of concerns with truck traffic … a lot of concerns about 24-hour operations, oil drilling, noise.”
The Clean Up Green Up strategy was developed with feedback from community members and has gained allies in city government, Gallegos said.
The motion that received council support in January was presented by Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights, along with Councilmen Richard Alarcon and Tony Cardenas and former Harbor Area Councilwoman Janice Hahn.
In an email from his spokesman, Huizar said he presented the motion after he was approached by the Los Angeles Collaborative for Environmental Health and Justice concerning environmental issues in Boyle Heights. Formed in 1996, the collaborative is made up of four community groups, including Gallegos’ CBE and Marquez’s coalition.
While the specifics of the policy are still being worked out, Huizar said the Clean Up Green Up campaign is not meant to be adversarial, but aimed at finding “cleaner, greener ways to improve business while helping sustain our neighborhoods in a healthy and clean environment for years to come.”
He said his office plans to reach out to businesses, chambers of commerce and trade groups as the program evolves.
The council motion – which directed staff to develop recommendations on how to implement Clean Up Green Up – has since been referred to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, along with the Jobs and Business Development Committee. Huizar said it is expected to move to those council panels early next year.
Want to go?
What: Meeting concerning the Clean Up Green Up pilot program targeting three “toxic hot-spot” communities, including Wilmington
Where: Wilmington Senior Center, 1371 Eubank Ave.
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday