What is Clean Up Green Up?
Clean Up Green Up is a public health and economic development measure aimed at reducing and preventing pollution in three “toxic hotspot” LA communities—Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington.
It’s a cutting-edge community-based proposal with support from key Los Angeles City Council representatives. Clean Up Green Up isdesigned to make heavily polluted neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles cleaner and greener as it supports local businesses. Councilmember Jose Huizar has introduced the Clean Up Green Up motion in Los Angeles City Council and there will be further council action throughout 2013.
What’s the problem?
Air pollution affects all of us. Some LA communities get a double dose. These are toxic hotspots, with an intense concentration of pollution sources adjacent to residential areas, schools, playgrounds, elder care centers, the kinds of places where children and older people gather—those who are particularly vulnerable to toxins in the environment. In toxic hotspot neighborhoods you might find such operations as metal plating factories, hazardous waste facilities, and idling diesel trucks right next to homes, the local school, a church or senior center.
The risk of pollution-related illness—asthma, heart disease, respiratory distress, cancer—and premature death—is 2 to 3 times higher in these areas than for the general population.
What’s the plan?
The plan is to transform three heavily polluted Los Angeles neighborhoods—Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington—into safer, more vibrant communities by reducing and preventing further pollution there. Why these three areas? Because residents there have organized to protect their health.
They have documented the conditions in these communities, taken their concerns to City Hall and partnered with their elected representatives to revitalize their neighborhoods and protect public health.
What would Clean Up Green Up do?
The Clean Up Green Up proposal for Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington creates a way for residents to work with the City of Los Angeles to help local industries comply with existing environmental regulations. And it’s a way to make sure any new industrial operations moving into these areas operate in ways that make them better neighbors.
Clean Up Green Up would save businesses time and money by setting up a one-stop-shop for help and support, an ombudsman office that can:
- Help sort through environmental rules. City regulatio
ns are scattered among different departments—Clean Up Green Up would reduce the time spent hunting around and trying to reconcile the various regulations. And that increases business efficiency, boosting the bottom line.
- Streamline permitting.
- Provide technical assistance and support on business opportunities and financing.
Clean Up Green Up would also concentrate economic development resources in the three pilot low-income toxic hotspot communities—Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington—to help businesses acquire green technology, modernize and operate more efficiently.
Aren’t there plenty of government agencies monitoring pollution? Why do we need yet another ordinance?
Clean Up Green Up is a fresh approach to a problem that other environmental measures don’t take into account—geographic concentrations of pollution sources creating toxic hotspot neighborhoods
Current environmental rules regulate each polluting facility on a “smokestack by smokestack” basis—one source at a time—rather than looking at the concentration of many local pollution sources that exist in toxic hotspot communities—and the potential health impacts.
Clean Up Green Up is a sensible land use and planning proposal to reduce and prevent local pollution. It’s similar to measures in the City of LA that reduce and prevent concentrations of liquor stores or other potential nuisance businesses in one area.
What businesses would Clean Up Green Up cover?
The inspection and accountability aspects apply to companies that use or handle toxic materials in the course of doing business. It’s not about the corner pizza parlor. All local businesses in Boyle Heights, Wilmington and Pacoima would benefit from streamlined permitting and more clarity in the standards they are expected to meet.
Clean Up Green Up is good for local businesses because it simplifies code regulations, streamlines permitting and provides support with low-interest loans, technical assistance and other financing opportunities to improve technology.
The city is struggling with a deficit—who pays for this?
Clean Up Green Up will be funded by routine and modest inspection fees, similar to those businesses pay to assure safe elevators, functioning fire safety systems and boilers and heating systems that don’t explode. Inspections would assure equipment is operating in a way that protects public health and industrial practices keep toxins out of the local environment rather than blowing into the air or running down local gutters and storm drains.
Fines for companies that don’t comply with reasonable good-neighbor safeguards after a warning would also support the Clean Up Green Up program. This helps good guy businesses by leveling the playing field—why should those that follow the rules have to compete with those that cut costs by cheating? Clean Up Green Up would see all local industries pay their fair share to protect community health—including the health of their own work force and customers.
What does LA’s business community say about Clean Up Green Up?
The Los Angeles Business Council was an early supporter. Dozens of local businesses in Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington—those who will be directly affected and benefit from business support—have endorsed the effort—as people who live in the community they want to be good environmental neighbors.