The Los Angeles City Council approved a Huizar plan to create environmental “Green Zones” in Boyle Heights, Pacoima & Wilmington: some of L.A.’s most vulnerable neighborhoods
The Los Angeles City Council voted today to direct the City Attorney to write the ordinance for Clean Up Green Up (CUGU), a pilot program aimed at reducing harmful emissions in several low-income communities that over time have been exposed to higher levels of pollution than other more affluent communities.
The plan calls to turn the “toxic hotspot” neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington into Green Zone communities by focusing on accessing economic assistance from a number of governmental agencies in order to clean up and green up existing businesses while creating green innovation opportunities in the communities most in need. An ombudsperson position will be created to assist in implementing enforcement, as well coordinating outreach to the community and businesses in the zones.
Councilmember José Huizar is one of the original authors of the CUGU legislation and has been instrumental in moving the pilot program forward as the Chair of the City’s Planning & Land Use Management Committee. Since its introduction more than four years ago, one of the most significant requirements to come out of the initiative include requiring future development Citywide within 1,000 feet of a freeway to use higher-rated air-filtration systems, which help remove hazardous emissions. The requirement would also apply to existing buildings near freeways that change their HVAC mechanical systems.
“Today’s vote represents years of work,” said Councilmember Huizar. “For too long communities like Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington have been unfairly at risk from the ill effects of toxic exposure and pollution. The Clean Up Green Up campaign represents an opportunity to empower these neighborhoods to reverse this trend and works with residents and businesses to improve the health of our communities,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “It pairs Environmental Justice with Environmental Action where all stakeholders are involved.
The improved air-filtration requirements near freeways will benefit all Angelenos for years to come. I’m beyond proud to be able to usher in this groundbreaking policy for the City of Los Angeles.”
The measure originated with local organizations in Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington that joined together as the LA Collaborative for Environmental Health and Justice to work with neighbors and local businesses to develop the Clean Up Green Up solution.
Families in these toxic hotspots are at double the risk of the general population for pollution-related maladies – asthma, heart disease, cancer, respiratory distress, cancer and premature death due to concentrations of polluting industries.
The California Air Resources Board calculates that in California air pollution exposure accounts for 19,000 premature deaths a year, 280,000 annual cases of asthma symptoms and more than one million annual respiratory-related school absences every year. An Air Quality management District study showed that Los Angeles area residents suffer a high cancer risk, one that greatly exceeds Clean Air Act goals.
The initiative will require one more vote from the City Council to approve the written ordinance.