|CASE STUDY||ISSUES AND COMMUNITY IMPACT|
|Local Community Campaigns|
|A Community Fights against a Crema-torium:
|In 2011, the city of Oakland deliberately classified a Stewart Enterprises crematorium as a manufacturing activity and thus a by-right use consistent with its zoning. East Oakland community residents were outraged at the city’s decision as they were never notified of the decision to approve the crematorium.
Local residents with assistance from Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) organized to pressure the city to pass an emergency ordinance to require discretionary review for all crematoriums in Oakland. Despite this success, the new policy was too late to stop the crematorium project. The story illustrates the importance of including affected local residents in land use decisions.
|Overcoming Politics with People Power and a Plan: National City||In 2017, the city of National City considered issuing a permit for a Perry Ford auto body shop situated across the street from the Paradise Creek affordable housing development. Nearby families were concerned that the new operations would pose a significant health threat to the local community.
During the hearing, resident leaders turned out in force with the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) to fight against the proposed permit, pointing out how it would conflict with policies in the city’s Westside Specific Plan. As a result, the city decided to approve the permit but with conditions that would safeguard local health.
|Community Leaders Shut Down a Metal Recycling Facility: Southeast LA||In a predominantly people of color neighborhood in Southeast Los Angeles, the Central Metal recycling facility polluted the area for years despite committing numerous violations and operating with an outdated permit. Residents’ concerns about the facility’s harms initially received little attention by local decision-makers.
Together with CBE, resident leaders documented Central Metal’s harms on their neighborhood
and successfully convinced the LA County Planning Commission to deny the facility’s conditional use permit. The community is now working collaboratively with the county to turn the site into a neighborhood-serving resource.
|Incompatible land use in National City has led to severe air quality problems and high asthma rates for local residents. City planners were unwilling to address the environmental problems that were mostly due to poor land use decisions over time.
Concerned for their children’s well-being, a group of mothers refused to take no for an answer. They organized their community with the EHC to see if a nuisance-related policy could work for land use. It did, prompting the city to pass the amortization ordinance.
|Clean Up Green Up:
|In Los Angeles, several neighborhoods suffer from exposure to multiple sources of pollution and toxics, incompatible land use, and poor air quality. Unfortunately, regulatory agencies lack an accurate database of industrial facilities in these areas, allowing these harms to continue.
The LA Collaborative for Environmental Health and Justice brought residents together to gather data on air quality and industrial uses in their neighborhoods. Together, they devised policies to reduce
the impacts of these hazardous facilities. As a result of their work, the Clean Up Green Up ordinance was passed in 2016 to establish overlay zones in three of LA’s most overburdened communities: Boyle Heights, Pacoima, and Wilmington.
|Committee for a Better Arvin:
Oil and Gas Ordinance
|In 2018, the city of Arvin approved four new oil and gas wells near people’s homes, despite working with community leaders to pass a new health-protective oil and gas ordinance.
The community responded by bringing a lawsuit against the city for approving the new wells
using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Just as the new oil and gas ordinance is a remarkable demonstration of a community-driven, health-protective land use policy, the litigation underscores how CEQA allows residents to speak for themselves and be a part of decision-making. CEQA is one of the few tools EJ communities have to protect polluted families from harmful projects on the ground.