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Emails Needed by Thursday, July 17 to Save the South Central Farm (Again)

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 at 11:40 PM
info@southcentralfarmers.com

The L.A. Planning Commission is again planning to put a sweatshop and warehouses on the South Central Farm site, and this time they're doing an end run around public comment.

Emails Needed by Thu...
farmer.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

If you don't have time to write your own email, a sample email follows. If you have time, please forward this to your email contacts today.


--Leslie

________________________________________

Eight years ago last month, Los Angeleños demanded their city step up to the burgeoning environmental justice movement in a citywide protest that centered on the small, working class Central Alameda neighborhood and its South Central Farm. The protest culminated in thousands of people from the Westside to the Eastside and from South Africa to Oaxaca rallying against overdevelopment, industrialization, anti-immigrant sentiment, and commercial food monopolies. It was a spontaneous occupation five years before Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Los Angeles. On a fourteen-acre plot in a poor neighborhood, hundreds of people pitched their tents on the South Central Farm for three months, and thousands of visitors, everyday people and famous ones, from around the world made pilgrimages to the Farm. It ended on June 13, 2006 when sheriffs raided the Farm, bulldozed the food and trees, and arrested 44 people. The Farmers pledged then that, although displaced, they would continue the fight for the neighborhood people's right to grow fresh food.

Between now and Thursday, July 17, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission is asking for public comments on the environmental impact of moving a garment factory and three trucking centers to the still-undeveloped Farm site. Last August, dozens of Farm supporters jammed a City Planning Commission meeting and demanded the EIR before development could begin. That turnout forced the City to reassess its position and require an Environmental Impact Report and public comment.

Emails in support of preserving green space for the Central Alameda neighborhood should be sent to Srimal Hewawitharana, who is supervising the EIR process, at srimal.hewawitharana@lacity

The City needs to be told that, just as wealthy and gentrified neighborhoods deserve green space for growing and supporting natural habitat, so do poor neighborhoods. No neighborhood in Los Angeles should be subject to the devastation that further industrialization will bring to the Central Alameda neighborhood. Here are issues that could be raised to the Planning Commission.

  • Fourteen acres of green space will enhance property values in this neighborhood hit hard by the housing crash, while trucks, loading and unloading twenty-four hours a day, will further devalue already devastated property values, forcing homeowners and renters out of their homes.

  • The proposed distribution centers will add over two thousand addition truck tripsdaily to the narrow streets adjacent to the neighborhood, creating a traffic nightmare for local drivers and dangerous streets for children.

  • The trucks will add air pollution not only to a nearby schools, a recreation center, and open-air markets, but will exacerbate existing air pollution across the region, already contaminated by long-haul trucks along the Alameda Corridor and by the nearby city of Vernon.

  • The trucks will contribute substantially to noise pollution in a neighborhood that already suffers with the noise of hourly train traffic along the Blue Line and approximately 10,000 car trips and day.

  • Twenty-four hour shipping operations will require twenty-four hour lighting, a significant reduction in the quality of life for the neighborhood.

  • As replacement facilities for existing business operations, this project holds little hope for any meaningful new jobs.

This is the time to call on the City to celebrate its residents' struggles for a green and livable Los Angeles. The South Central Farm has a long history of struggle for environmental justice that needs to be celebrated, not irredeemably erased and paved over.

  • The destruction of the Farm follows an historical Los Angeles trend of displacing Mexican and Central American peoples that began in the Mexican-American War of 1848 and continued through the displacements at Chavez Ravine (now Dodger Stadium) and the Cornfield, an indigenous Tongva site converted to a state park and tourist center.

  • In 1987, the people of the Ninth District defeated the City's plans to convert the land that became the South Central for use by a massive trash incinerator called the Lancer Project.

  • Following the Rodney King uprising, Mayor Tom Bradley ceded the land to the people. The City sold it to the Harbor Department, which issued a permit for farming and put the land under the administration of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. By 1994, the people in the neighborhood were clearing the land and growing food.

  • The Farmers cultivated over 100 identified species of plants, including fruit trees, medicinal plants, cacti, protected black walnut trees, and other species native to historical Mexico. The trees on the Farm were considered so significant that they were transplanted to the South Central Tree Collection, an exhibit at the Huntington Library. Unusual fauna for urban dwellers included bats and red-tailed hawks. On the Farm was a Central American and Mexican seed bank, destroyed in the raid on the Farm. The fourteen-acre habitat should be restored, not paved over.

  • The Farm, its creation and its destruction, sparked appreciation of the contributions of populations from south of the border and awakened Los Angeleños to the need for an environmentally sound city. In its wake, the City has instituted 350 school gardens and the right to grow food on easements, farmers' markets have seen an explosion in popularity and dozens of new ones have opened in every area of Los Angeles, and L.A. now has a functional system of bike trails and trains.

The South Central Farmers have now twice disrupted city plans to industrialize the Farm. In 2008, the Farmers organized the neighborhood to demand an Environmental Impact Report before building a Forever 21 sweatshop on the land, and the demands of that EIR ended that project. Last year, the City again prepared to build on the land without an EIR, and the Farmers once more mounted a campaign for an EIR. That EIR too, could end the industrial development and force the City to recognize the Farm again. The South Central Farm is the center of environmental justice for all of Los Angeles, both as a much-needed green space for a working class neighborhood long ignored by the City and as a symbol of a new Los Angeles that acknowledges that all its residents deserve the right to grow food and live in a healthy environment. It is time, again, to save the Farm.

 

*****SAMPLE LETTER*****


Srimal Hewawitharana
Environmental Specialist II
Department of City Planning
200 N. Main St. 7th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Via email: srimal.hewawitharana@lacity.org 

Re: Case No. ENV-2012-920-EIR, AA-2012-919, DIR-2013-887-SPR/ Proposed Construction of Four Industrial Buildings

Dear Ms. Hewawitharana:

I urge a rejection of the City's planners' present determination that this proposed project is not regional in scope. I urge you to call for an immediate public comment scoping hearing under CEQA prior to evaluation of the applicant's EIR request.

The environmental documentation indicates that the applicant's proposal would generate an additional 2,581 truck trips a day, which is a region-wide impact on traffic, air and noise pollution and on a wide-range of neighboring sensitive receptors.

The trucks will contribute substantially to noise pollution in a neighborhood that already suffers with the noise of hourly train traffic along the Blue Line and approximately 10,000 car trips and day.

Twenty-four hour shipping operations will require twenty-four hour lighting, a significant reduction in the quality of life for the neighborhood.

As replacement facilities for existing business operations, this project holds little hope for any meaningful new jobs.

Siting warehouses on the land is to continue to deprive the community of their urban agricultural resource and means of self sufficiency to combat the effects of the local food desert which this area has become. To approve of placing corporate profits above community needs, in an extremely low income community where most residents are people of color, is to sanction environmental racism. 

Cumulative industrial pollutants in the air, soil and groundwater which have daily impacted this community for years are already under several court and administrative orders arising from actions initiated by state and federal agencies. The application for an EIR to cover the additional industrial pollutants arising from [Proposed] Project raises more questions about regional impact than can be addressed with just an EIR with Environmental Justice Analysis under CEQA. The EIR as proposed is legally insufficient to correct these cumulative pollution impacts and the current orders, rulings and laws presently in force in and along the Alameda Corridor are for the purpose of correcting the damage already done. In total, City Planning is ready to address the applicant's many requests of the City, but the [Proposed] Project offers insignificant mitigation, which is legally insufficient unless and until public scoping comments are heard at an open hearing under CEQA and the Brown Act.

For these and other reasons, I urge the City to hold a full scoping hearing of the Draft EIR regarding this project at 4051 South Alameda St., case number: ENV-2012-920-EIR, AA-2012-919-PMLA, DIR-2013-887-SPR.

Sincerely,

(Name and city)

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Growing Beauty

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 at 11:40 PM
info@southcentralfarmers.com

Growing Beauty...
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Campground

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 at 11:40 PM
info@southcentralfarmers.com

Campground...
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