Environment, Parks, Libraries

Tighter Regulations for Oil and Gas Wells

Inglewood Oil Field

Inglewood Oil Field

The Board of Supervisors is looking into tightening regulations for oil and gas facilities in Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas.

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, the Board unanimously called for being proactive in ensuring that existing oil and facilities operate safely, as well as for enhancing the regulatory process for future well sites. The motion incorporated slight amendments by Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe and Sheila Kuehl.

DFA_0208 (1)“We have spent far too much time reacting to environmental catastrophe after catastrophe – from the former Athens Tank Farm, to the Aliso Canyon methane leak, to the Exide Battery Recycling Facility in Vernon,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “These incidents highlight the dire environmental, economic and public health repercussions when industrial facilities are not properly operated.”

“The significant community disruption, coupled with consequential environmental impacts, provides ample justification for a proactive approach,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added.

More than half of the 1,687 oil and gas facilities in unincorporated areas already operate under strict regulatory requirements created by the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District. At the Inglewood Oil Field, for example, the District restricts the amount of drilling allowed; monitors air quality, groundwater, noise and seismic activity; and requires emergency response protocols and monthly meetings with members of the community.

An estimated 800 facilities in unincorporated areas, however, operate with a lack of consistency in permit conditions, and under regulations that vary from project to project. The motion calls for creating a “strike team” to inventory those facilities and conduct on-site inspections and safety audits. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “The objective is to ensure that these facilities are appropriately monitored and are operating in a manner that protects the health and safety of surrounding communities.”

The motion also sought to update zoning and other regulations to ensure that future well sites minimize environmental impacts and pose no danger to surrounding populations.

An initial report is expected this fall.

Inglewood oil field and pump jack

Building a Trail to the Ocean

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas dedicated the new Stocker Corridor Trailhead, the easternmost segment of the Park to Playa Trail that will connect the Baldwin Hills Parklands to the Pacific Ocean.

“The Stocker Trailhead provides a long-awaited and much needed amenity,” he said. “Now the residents of View Park and Windsor Hills will have a safe and efficient connection to the rest of the Baldwin Hills Parklands.”

IMG_2193 (1)“It is just a part of our plan to bring a variety of new recreational amenities – ranging from trails to community and nature centers – to the surrounding community,” he added.

Key improvements include a public fruit tree orchard designed by civic art partner Fallen Fruit, a direct connection to adjacent Reuben Ingold Park via a pedestrian walkway that can also accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, and a new parking lot.

IMG_2199 (2)Other features include California native trees and shrubs, water-smart irrigation, and formal entrances at Valley Ridge and Presidio.

Also present at the dedication ceremony were officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, California State Parks and the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority.

The Stocker Trailhead is part of the 13-mile Park to Playa (P2P) trail that will create a direct link from the communities of View Park, Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills all the way to the coast. P2P is anticipated to be 90 percent complete by the summer.

 

 

New Park Along the Banks of Ballona Creek

IMG_1797

Continuing the renaissance of Ballona Creek, a new park has opened along its banks in West Los Angeles.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas dedicated the $4.2-million Milton Street Park next to a segment of the trail and bike path along the Ballona Creek, home to many varieties of wildlife and vegetation.

IMG_1794“For decades, the only way for people to experience Ballona Creek was to walk the trail or pedal on the bike path,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Until now, there were no opportunities to sit and take in the scenery. Milton Street Park changes all that.”

In addition to providing a safe new gateway to the trail and bike path, the park also features native trees and shrubs, water-smart irrigation and permeable walls. Other amenities include an outdoor classroom, interpretive displays, a drinking fountain, bike racks and decorative fencing.

Later, a “Green Street” will be added to clean and recycle storm water from the street before it drains into Ballona Creek.

IMG_1802The park sits on property owned by the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority (BHRCA), chaired by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

It will be a stop on the planned 13-mile Park to Playa Trail connecting the majestic Baldwin Hills to the Pacific Ocean.

Funding and other support for Milton Street Park came from the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, State Coastal Conservancy, Natural Resources Agency and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. The Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority constructed the park and will maintain it.

IMG_1793

24th Empowerment Congress Summit Draws 1,300

About 1,300 people participated in a meaningful dialogue about Los Angeles County’s crisis of homelessness at the 24th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit, and vowed to work together — as a community — in search of solutions.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas described homelessness as one of the most profound issues of our time, pointing out an estimated 44,000 people live on the streets or in temporary shelters on any given night.

“One out of every three homeless persons lives in the Second  District — over 14,000 men, women and children,” he said. “The most vulnerable — those with mental or physical disabilities, drug or alcohol addiction, women without family support — are the hardest hit.”

The summit coincides with the national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas recalled the legacy of the legendary civil rights leader.

“Dr. King’s words implore us not to harden our hearts in despair, cynicism and bitter resignation in the face of these challenges,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “He reminds us that it is our moral imperative to learn more about the homeless problem and to challenge ourselves to creatively respond and alter the systems causing homelessness in the first place.”

Actress Pauley Perrette, a longtime advocate for the homeless and star of the world’s highest-rated TV show, NCIS, also urged help for the homeless, saying we all “share a common humanity.” Although best known for playing the role of forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, she is also an ardent social and civil activist, involved in many charitable organizations.

IMG_1678

NCIS actress Pauley Perrette urges help for the homeless.

Founded in 1992 by then-Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Empowerment Congress is a national model of civic engagement and forerunner of the neighborhood council movement. It is a dynamic partnership among neighborhood groups, residents, nonprofit organizations, businesses, religious institutions and community leaders, built on the core principles of participatory democracy, reciprocal accountability, and intentional civility.

This year’s summit had the theme: Empowerment Matters: Building Stronger Communities. Speakers at the plenary session included California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Other speakers included Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Songhai Armstead, A Community of Friends CEO Dora Gallo, architect Michael Maltzan, Marquez Community Strategy founder Mercedes Marquez, and civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Cecil Murray.

The plenary session was followed by workshops on such issues as preparing for El Niño, the relationship between law enforcement and young men of color, mass transit as a vehicle for economic development, and the state of social justice in Los Angeles.

IMG_1851