Your Support Helps Us Make an Ongoing Impact in Our Community
Our work and mission could not be fulfilled without the generous support of many. We want to express our gratitude to The 11th Hour Project and a warm shout out to the following donors who also provided support with their individual capacity: Isaias Hernandez, Amanda Rees, Vicki Kaplan, Pierre Arreola, Phyllis Katz, Gary Gero.
We are so very grateful to all.
Amid a Pandemic Youth Turn to Social Media to Voice Their Concern with a Methane Leak in Sun Valley
Embarking on digital organizing efforts, youth members hosted an online day of action to inform the community of the Valley Generating Station methane leak as part of Pacoima Beautiful’s #NoGasLA Campaign calling for the shutdown of diesel burning operations at the Valley Generating Station. The day of action on social media was intended to spark dialogue among our audience and provide a snapshot of community concerns.
The youth posed a series of questions on Pacoima Beautiful’s Instagram and Twitter that kicked off the social media storm resulting in a flood of comments across Pacoima Beautiful’s platforms. Some people expressed their feelings of disbelief that a company who serves the community was not taking responsibility for the leak. Other people expressed concern about the health impacts in particularly to children, the elderly, and people with preexisting conditions. The lack of accountability and the need to take action was conveyed, “We do need the energy this plant produces to power our homes. And of course, moving towards green, renewable energy should be the goal. But in the meantime, we need to demand they immediately fix all health hazards and conduct long-term studies and monitor the health of local residents and provide healthcare to those affected by their negligence” -@Eli_mun2. Followers commented that community gardens, parks, affordable housing, homeless shelters would be better uses for the land the Valley Generating Station is on. “Turn the plant into a renewable energy plant and keep local jobs, train current workers in repairing and installing solar panels and windmills and pay them accordingly,” said a follower.
The social media storm was intended to raise awareness about the methane leak at the Valley Generating Station and flood LADWP’s social media notifications with messages about the Valley Methane Campaign. Momentum built carried through to LADWP’s Valley Generating Station Update virtual community meeting that took place on October 21, 2020 at 6pm. The youth participated in the community meeting and asked questions pertaining to LADWP’s plan to find a solution to the methane leak. The youth continue to come up with digital strategies to organize around the methane leak during their YUTEP (Youth United Towards Environmental Protection), weekly youth meetings.
Taco and Ride Pacoima Eletro-Share Event
Check out the first ever Electro Car-Share community program in action. Organizers hit the pavement to host an information session with Community members. Held at the San Fernando Gardens, the “Taco and Ride” event had two completely solar powered vehicles on full display for the Community to get in close, look at the vehicle, and sign up for the program. The goal of the event was to promote the first ever electric car-share program at the San Fernando Gardens available to all residents. Pacoima Eletro-Share is a program made possible thanks to our partners LACI, ENVOY and our County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Our community organizers helped folks get signed up on the ENVOY app using their smart phones. A simple process that anyone over the age of 21 with a valid driver’s license and a debit card can do.
For those who were wary about driving an electric car, this was their opportunity to take a ride, learn more about the environmentally friendly features, and sign up for the program with help from the Pacoima Beautiful team. We hosted free tacos to folks that signed up for the program and gifted them $5 dollars’ worth of credits toward the use of the vehicle, all while following safety protocols. Overall, the event was a success!
Bradley Plaza and Green Alley Opens for Community to Use
The much-awaited Bradley Plaza and Green Alley Project had its big unveiling on October 22, 2020 in a live Facebook stream. Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment Department (LASAN) in partnership with Pacoima Beautiful (PB), the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the support of Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez worked collaboratively to make this project possible. Representatives from the partnership gathered in the plaza to reflect on the benefits of the project and the community it serves. What was previously an unsafe alleyway, next to a community plaza, is now a multi-benefit project; improving water quality by infiltrating storm water runoff while creating a social gathering space that focuses on pedestrians and neighborhood connectivity. The transformed alleyway and plaza are located between Lehigh Ave. and Pala Ave and run parallel to Van Nuys Blvd.
Over several months and years, local residents and community stakeholders were involved throughout the redesign of the space. During community meetings, residents chose the greenery and design elements of the plaza, and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians incorporated language in the benches and plaques. The additional greenery and trees will help reduce the heat island effect during the hot months in the Valley and the stormwater infrastructure will prevent flooding and recharge the underground aquifers. Community engagement is incredibly important in projects like these, Pacoima, a park poor area, has less park space per resident than the rest of Los Angeles County, and having quality parks and open spaces, where residents and stakeholders have the opportunity to design something that works for them, is extremely valuable and important.
The Bradley Plaza and Green Alley project is funded through the City of Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA), LA Sanitation and Environment, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles Waterkeeper & The Liberty Hill Foundation. Additionally, the project had broad support from the San Fernando Gardens Housing Authority, whose residents live adjacent to the site.
Update on the Valley Generating Station
Pacoima Beautiful has led a focused campaign around the Valley Generating Station methane leak these past few months. The Northeast San Fernando Valley community has organized and mobilized to make their voices be heard. Over 150 community members tuned in and spoke directly with LADWP executive staff about the who, what, and why of the methane leak at Valley Generating Station on October 21, 2020. Many people were not happy with indifference shown towards the real fears of the health impact of the leak. This motivated the community and PB to organize a march and rally on October 30, 2020. Over 50 community members marched from Alliance High School in Sun Valley through the neighborhood informing the neighbors about the issue with Valley Generating Station.
We are thankful to Council President Nury Martinez, who represents the District and knows the injustices that our communities have endured, for introducing and passing a motion calling for a sunset date for gas operations at Valley Generating Station. We are close to the clean energy future that our community deserves.
Let’s Talk About the Future of Whiteman Airport
The recent plane accident on November 12, 2020 on Sutter Ave magnifies the real impact that Whiteman Airport has to the surrounding community. This tragic accident resulted in a loss of life and has traumatized many in the community. The air traffic that has continues triggers that trauma daily.
“How many more lives must be sacrificed and/or endangered to preserve a 75-year-old municipal airport in Pacoima that serves 600 nonresidents,” stated Pacoima Beautiful Executive Director, Veronica Padilla-Campos. Since 2007, Pacoima Beautiful has called for the closure of Whiteman Airport when it issued a report stating “Whiteman Airport is the largest identified toxic source emitter in Pacoima. It emits toxics almost 20 times higher for carcinogenicity, 70 times higher for chronic non-cancer, and almost 80 times higher for acute non-cancer than the next highest source emitter in the area. It is estimated that as much as 1,000 lbs. per year of various air toxics, may be emitted as a result of ongoing operations at the airport facility.”
This incident underscores the persistent hazard that Whiteman Airport presents to residents and businesses in the Pacoima community. While the accident is tragic, unfortunately it is not surprising for a community that endures endless hours of low flying airplane traffic. Whiteman airport’s landing flight path brings airplanes over some of the densest housing in the Northeast San Fernando Valley in particular the San Fernando Gardens that houses over 400 families next door to Whiteman Airport.
We believe there are much better uses for the acres of land that the airport stands on. Our community needs opportunities for affordable housing, economic development, and jobs. Let us recognize this accident as a sign that we cannot afford to wait for an even bigger tragic loss of life to occur. We must be decisive and act now. Whiteman Airport must go! It will take all of us working together to reimagine a better use for Whiteman Airport, and transform it into an asset which the Pacoima community can truly stand to benefit from.