- KCET Departures: The Baldwin Hills, Black L.A., and Green Justice
- Vimeo Keep the Baldwin Hills Clean and Green
- Baldwin Hills Settlement a Victory for Environmental Justice and Quality for All!
- Policy Report Keeping Baldwin Hills Clean and Green for Generations to Come
- Court Upholds the Right of the People to Regulate Urban Oil Field
- Regulators Accused of Lax Oversight at LA Oilfield AP New York Times
- Baldwin Hills Community Allies — Protect Human Health and the Environment — Petitioners’ Briefs
- Four Suits Filed for Improved Environmental Impact Report and Oil Regulations
- Baldwin Hills Oil Field Blight Mars Homes, Parks, and Health
- Baldwin Hills in the News Videos YouTube Radio
- Baldwin Hills and African American Los Angeles
- Aerial Image and Demographics of the Baldwin Hills Community
- Board of Supervisors Hearing Final CSD and EIR
- Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance CSD and Communty Health
- Draft Environmental Impact Report, Comments, and Workshops
- Baldwin Hills Blog
- Baldwin Hills on flickr
The Baldwin Hills Park alongside active oil fields in the historic heart of African-American Los Angeles will be a two-square mile park, the nation’s largest natural urban park in over 100 years. The Park will provide the diverse and park-poor region with much needed green space for recreation and health, conservation, education, and economic vitality.
The Baldwin Hills is an epicenter of excellence in African American culture across the United States, along with Sugar Hill in Harlem and, now, the White House. Even so, black folks in Baldwin Hills and adjoining South Central Los Angeles have constantly struggled for green justice.
KCET Departures featured this video in the March 8, 2012, Green Justice column, The Baldwin Hills, Black L.A., and Green Justice. The Baldwin Hills is an epicenter of excellence in African American culture across the United States, along with Sugar Hill in Harlem and, now, the White House. Even so, black folks in Baldwin Hills and adjoining South Central Los Angeles have constantly struggled for green justice. The community, which has long suffered from environmental degradation and discrimination, has been fighting to create the two square-mile Baldwin Hills Park.
Agreement Reached to Reduce Urban Oil Drilling in Los Angeles
Settlement Provides Greater Protections to Residents, Drilling Restrictions
LOS ANGELES (July 6, 2011) – An agreement reached by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday strengthens health and safety protections for thousands of residents living near the Baldwin Hills area of south Los Angeles who are currently affected by drilling operations by the Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP). The settlement resolves four lawsuits filed in November 2008 by Community Health Councils, Inc. (CHC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the City of Culver City [represented by City Attorney Carol Schwab and Heather Baker, and David Cranston of Greenberg Glusker], Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles (CCSCLA), and the Citizen’s Coalition for a Safe Community [represented by Todd Cardiff].
“This is a hard fought victory by residents seeking to protect themselves and their property from oil and gas drilling,” said Damon Nagami, staff attorney for NRDC. “In some cases, drilling is happening within a few hundred feet of residences. There must be better protections for people confronted by ongoing drilling operations in densely populated communities.”
In the lawsuits, the petitioners claimed that the County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to conduct an adequate environmental impact report (EIR) before adopting the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District (CSD), which was intended to regulate 1,100 acres of oil drilling and production activities in Baldwin Hills.
Key elements of the settlement include
- Reduced drilling of new wells
- Increased air quality monitoring
- More stringent noise limits
- Mandatory, recurring health and environmental justice assessments
“While this does not result in an amendment to the CSD (the county ordinance) as we had hoped, we are glad that we were able to reach agreement on a number of key issues which we believe will help to further protect the health and safety of the community,” said Lark Galloway-Gilliam, executive director of Community Health Councils, Inc. “Now the task is to use the tools afforded in the CSD and this settlement agreement to monitor the field and hold PXP to being a better neighbor.”
“The settlement provides additional protections for the residents of Baldwin Hills, and visitors to the Baldwin Hills Park, in one of the most diverse areas of Los Angeles and the historic heart of African-American L.A.,” said Robert García, president and counsel of The City Project, which represents CCSCLA. “The agreement recognizes that equal justice and environmental laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s 11135, create more livable communities for all. This is a best practice example for environmental justice everywhere.”
Ken Kutcher, an attorney with Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal who served as co-counsel for CHC and NRDC, recapped the multi-year effort to settle the cases. “This settlement has been a long time coming. It is the product of a great deal of work by the lawyers and their clients, as well as the State Attorney General’s Office.” At the Superior Court’s request, the AG’s office served in the unusual role of acting as mediator for critical portions of the settlement negotiations.
Following the finalized settlement agreement, the parties will effectuate the dismissal of the lawsuits, after which time the agreement will be released to the public.
In January 2006, uncontrolled emissions of noxious gas from the Inglewood Oil Field near Baldwin Hills caused the evacuation of dozens of people and affected more than 500 homes in adjacent neighborhoods. A similar incident occurred a month later, in February 2006.
Community action resulting from the two incidents prompted the County to adopt emergency restrictions on PXP’s operations and eventually led to a temporary moratorium on new well drilling through October 2008. The County then approved a CSD document to allow expanded drilling which many community members and groups believed lacked sufficient oversight and protections for the community and environment.
The lawsuits, filed in November 2008, challenged the County vote in October 2008 authorizing PXP to develop 600 new oil wells over the next 20 years in Baldwin Hills without any further public hearings or environmental review.
The parties to the settlement have agreed to the following joint statement:
“The parties have negotiated in good faith a settlement containing important improvements to the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District (‘CSD’) that could not have been compelled by a court order resulting from the current litigation challenging the County’s Environmental Impact Report and the CSD.
“The terms of the settlement adequately augment the protections contained in the CSD and, when combined with the existing provisions of the CSD, provide a satisfactory framework for safeguarding community health, safety and security.
“The settlement expedites the resolution of significant community concerns and allows the focus of this process to shift to constructive dialogue, implementation, monitoring and establishment of a more effective working relationship between the parties.”
Comparison of Baldwin Hills Oil Field Restrictions. Click here to download the Baldwin Hills Settlement Chart that explains the additional health and environmental safeguards achieved through the July 2011 settlement of four lawsuits over oil drilling near the Baldwin Hills neighborhoods of south Los Angeles. The settlement’s provisions, when added to existing safeguards in the 2008 Community Standards District, provide residents with significantly greater protections from the effects of oil drilling than existed previously.
Click here to download the complete July 15, 2011, Settlement Agreement to protect public health and the environment.
Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles and The City Project present the Policy Report Keeping the Baldwin Hills Clean and Green for Generations to Come.
The purpose of this Policy Report is to engage, educate and empower the community as well as public officials to protect human health and the environment in the Baldwin Hills community, park and oil field through various means. This information is relevant, among other reasons, in the preparation of the following studies, plans and reviews:
(1) An equity analysis and plan for the Baldwin Hills oil field operations and zoning regulations under federal and state laws, including civil rights laws;
(2) The health survey of the Baldwin Hills by the County;
(3) The implementation plan for the oil field regulations;
(4) The study of the oil field regulations approved by the Board of Supervisors in August 2009;
(5) A proper review in an environmental impact report under civil rights and Environmental Justice laws;
(6) Compliance review by state officials to ensure the County as a recipient of state and federal funds is complying with state and federal civil rights and Environmental Justice laws in the Baldwin Hills, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations, California Government Code 11135 and its regulations, and the California Environmental Quality Act; and
(7) Compliance review by federal officials to ensure the County as a recipient of federal funds is complying with federal civil rights and Environmental Justice laws in the Baldwin Hills.
Each study, plan or review needs to include the following elements:
- A clear description of what is planned;
- An analysis of the impact on all populations, including minority and low income populations;
- An analysis of available alternatives;
- The documented inclusion of minority and low income populations in the study and decision-making process; and
- An implementation plan to address any concerns identified in the equity analysis.
The County of Los Angeles is allowing the Texas oil company Plains Exploration & Production Company (“PXP”) to drill up to 600 oil wells in the Baldwin Hills in the next 20 years, an average of 30 wells per year. The oil company drilled an average of only 10 wells per year over the past 20 to 25 years. Thirty wells per year is about triple the drilling rate for the past 20 to 25 years before 2005, when PXP dramatically ramped up its drilling operations and surrounding communities experienced more problems.
The current environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent finger pointing, including among regulators, demonstrate the need for the people to be vigilant in protecting themselves in the face of the Siren call of oil company profits. Oil drilling in the Gulf is based on advanced new technology, but the oil spill requires relying on “some equivalent of a fire drill with paper towels and buckets for cleanup.” There need to be proper protections for human health, the environment, and equal justice in the Baldwin Hills.
The oil field is located in the one of the nation’s largest and most populous metropolitan areas, in the historic heart of African American Los Angeles. The area is the identified home of Baldwin Hills Park, which when completed will be the largest urban park created in the United States in over a century and the greatest public works project in the history of a community that has long suffered from environmental degradation and discrimination.
The following defects, if corrected, would result in meaningful reforms to benefit the health, economic vitality, environment, and quality of life for the people in the Baldwin Hills:
- The County allowed too many new wells to be drilled in the next 20 years.
- The County did not fully disclose foreseeable effects on human health.
- The County improperly included emissions from prior drilling projects in the air quality baseline.
- The County failed to adequately consider the risk of major oil spills.
- In “mitigating” the noise impacts of drilling, the County allows a noise increase in residential areas already subjected to excessive noise.
- The County did not evaluate the oil drilling regulations for consistency with the 2002 Baldwin Hills Park Master Plan.
- The County failed to adequately analyze the social, economic and Environmental Justice effects and physical changes caused by the project.
- The County abdicated its obligation to consider greenhouse gas emissions.
- The County failed to include feasible mitigation measures that would help protect surrounding residents.
- The regulations unlawfully deferred the implementation of enforceable mitigation.
- The County failed to describe or consider the actual project.
- The County failed to consider available alternatives.
These matters are fully covered in the Petitioners’ Briefs in the Baldwin Hills litigation, and in the Policy Report.
The Policy Report Keeping the Baldwin Hills Clean and Green for Generations to Come is available by clicking here.
An alliance of community advocates seek to keep the Baldwin Hills clean and green for generations to come in and out of court, including Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles represented by The City Project, the City of Culver City, Community Health Councils, Natural Resources Defense Council, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, and the Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance.
Judge James Chalfant of the Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Culver City may regulate expansion or intensification of new oil wells in the Baldwin Hills oil field on March 26, 2010. The Court rejected the effort by Texas oil company Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP) to throw out the City’s moratorium on new oil drilling while the City studies how to protect human health and the environment from the impacts of the oil field operations.
Culver City took action to protect the public after noxious oil field gas and odors invaded residential neigborhoods in two separate incidents in January and February of 2006, causing some residents to evacuate their homes in the middle of the night. The Southern California Air Quality Management District issued a notice of violation to PXP because “[d]ischarge from oil well drilling operation caused nuisance to a considerable number of people.” PXP shrugged its shoulders and claimed about the February incident that “there was no gas release and really nothing we could do to prevent it – it was routine, daytime operations.”
According to the Court, “The issues in this case concern PXP’s right, if any, to drill new oil wells on land within the City, and the City’s right to adopt a zoning ordinance impacting that right.”
The Court held that the City had the right to issue a moratorium while it determined what regulations to apply to applications for new wells. PXP does not have a vested right to drill new wells. Even if it did, the City could still regulate expansion or intensification of the oil field operations through new oil wells to protect public health, safety, morals and the general welfare. The Court ruled:
“Drilling a new well results in new structures on the land: the drilling pad, the derrick, the borehole and its casings, the accessory structures for processing drilling mud, the pumping equipment, and more. Those new structures require new permits before they may be constructed, and the City may regulate those structures by zoning regulation. . . . The City’s right to regulate an existing use of land for oil production may reasonably include regulation of the number, location, and manner of drilling new wells.” “The City remains free to condition or even refuse to grant new drilling permits for unwarranted intensification or expansion of even a vested right.” “A city could determine that an oil producing business has realized or will realize a sufficient return on its investment and a prohibition on oil production thereafter is justified.”
A part of the 1,000 acre Baldwin Hills oil field is located within Culver City. The oil field has been in operation for over 85 years since 1924. There are currently 1,463 wells (active, idle and abandoned) in the oil field as of 2006. Oil operations on the oil field include drilling, redrilling, reworking and servicing of existing and new wells; production of oil and gas from the wells; water injection into wells; processing of fluids; gas processing; short-term storage of produced substances; transportation of the produced substances through pipelines; and related activities.
The County of Los Angeles recently approved up to 600 new oil wells over the next 20 years. The County’s environmental impact report (EIR) is being challenged by Culver City and community activists including The City Project and Concerned Citizens of Southcentral Los Angeles in a separate case that is scheduled for trial before Judge Chalfant on April 5, 2010.
The EIR recognizes the significance of the Baldwin Hills in African American Los Angeles and across the nation:
“The Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles has long been a geographical focus for African Americans. The African American movement towards the Baldwin Hills area is rooted in a number of factors, including racial segregation that existed throughout the Los Angeles area in the 1950s . .. . . As segregation began to fall in the 1960s, middle and upper class African Americans disproportionately moved westward from South Central Los Angeles. White flight from advancing blacks opened up opportunities to rent or buy housing. Hundreds of houses and apartment complexes were built in Baldwin Hills in the 1950s providing larger more comfortable houses that were desirable to the more affluent African Americans that moved to the area. . . . By the late-1950s and early-1960s, Baldwin Hills became the heart of affluent African American culture in Los Angeles.”
The Baldwin Hills are the home of the Baldwin Hills Park, the largest urban park designed in the United States in over a century.
Gary Hanken argued the case for Culver City. Counsel for Culver City included David Cranston, Sedina Banks, Jenna Guggenheim of Greenberg Glusker; Carol Schwab, City Attorney, and Heather Baker, Assistant City Attorney.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — This sprawling metropolis is built atop one of the richest oil basins in the world. Wells dot the city landscape, some hidden behind hollow building facades much like a Hollywood movie set, or, in the case of Beverly Hills High School, encased in a tower painted with flowers.
For decades it had been assumed that one oil field, the historic Inglewood, just minutes from the downtown skyline, would eventually play out, that the nodding pumpjacks would give way to an elaborately planned, two square-mile park.
But in 2004 Houston-based Plains Exploration & Production Co., which had acquired the drilling rights from Chevron, used new technology to discover that only 35 percent of the reserves had been pumped out and began to drill the first of what would eventually become 600 new wells over the next 20 years. This renewed push for oil was helped along by county and state regulators who determined that the additional wells didn’t require any environmental review. . . .
The lack of oversight is now at the center of a lawsuit filed by several environmental and community groups who want stronger environmental standards applied to the Inglewood field. This includes a comprehensive health study, decreasing the number of wells the company can drill per year and requiring the company to drill farther away from residential areas. . . .
Crude was discovered here in 1924, a time when the area was just empty fields and environmental regulations were decades from being enacted. Production peaked a year later when 176 new wells were drilled, but by the 1990s an average of less than four new wells were drilled per year.
As the decades passed, residents began to settle near the Inglewood field. Baldwin Hills, one such community, was nicknamed the ”black Beverly Hills” where the likes of Ray Charles and Tina Turner once lived. Now, ranch style homes and palatial mansions oversee swaths of dirt and scrub where oil pumps bob behind chain link fences. . . .
In 2007 the county held hearings and eventually created a special set of regulations governing drilling in Inglewood. Drilling was capped at 600 wells. . . .
The community and environmental groups [in 2008] filed four separate lawsuits. A judge consolidated the suits into one, which is expected to go to trial in April.
The suit, in addition to its lack of oversight allegations, also contains claims of environmental racism. It says that the Inglewood field has not been cleaned up or disguised as oil fields have been in wealthy white sections of of Los Angeles. . . .
Read the rest of this article by AP Reporter Noaki Schwartz in the New York Times . . .
View images and a map of the Baldwin Hills community and oil field on Google News . . .
The AP article about the Baldwin Hills community, park and oil field has been picked up in over 300 stories across the nation and around the world . . .
Community allies have filed the opening brief in litigation against the County of Los Angeles and PXP Oil Company challenging the legal adequacy of the Final Environmental Impact Report (the “EIR”) for the regulation of new oil well drilling and other operations in the Inglewood Oil Field through oil field regulations known as the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District (the “CSD”). Spurred by the 2006 damaging release of noxious gases caused by oil drilling impacting surrounding neighborhoods, the County recognized that expanded operations in a 900 acre oil field operating in the middle of a highly urbanized environment with over a million people required the modernization of anachronistic zoning regulations. The new oil field regulations were supposed to “ensure that oil field operations are conducted in harmony with adjacent land uses, to minimize the potential adverse impacts of such operations so they are compatible with surrounding land uses…to protect the comfort, health, safety and general welfare of people living, working and recreating in the surrounding areas.” Unfortunately, the oil field regulations missed the mark in many ways. This is a classic case where people of color are being forced to accept a noxious industrial use without full mitigation. Such an outcome would not be tried in other communities.
The opening brief was filed by petitioners the City of Culver City; Community Health Councils, Inc.; Natural Resources Defense Council; Mark Salkin; Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, and Citizens Coalitions for a Safe Community.
The oil field regulations were intended so that future oil operations, including hundreds of new wells, and even the future development of so-called mitigation, would be insulated from future review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). Thus, as a practical matter, the EIR purports to be the final discretionary review for all new drilling and other operations at the oil field over the next twenty years. Given the long-range impacts of PXP’s planned massive drilling and oil extraction operations, the EIR’s inadequacy, as well as the inadequacy of the purported mitigation measures under the regulations, are of substantial regional importance for dozens of communities and the tens of thousands of families who live and work in them.
While the new oil field regulations may be an improvement over the County’s prior minimal regulation over the oil field, the EIR supporting it has major flaws that undermine its adequacy both as an informational document and as a means to develop the important feasible mitigation measures necessary to protect against anticipated environmental harm. As so many of the defects have undermined the County’s ability to identify and mitigate the impacts from the oil field operations, the EIR’s defects will have real-life impacts on surrounding communities. Petitioners have endeavored to focus on those defects which, if corrected, should result in meaningful changes to the EIR and the regulations – changes that will benefit the surrounding communities and environment. Among those are the following:
- The EIR Failed to Describe or Consider the Right Project.
- The EIR Improperly Included Emissions from Prior Drilling Projects in its Air Quality Baseline.
- The EIR Failed to Adequately Consider the Risk of Major Oil Spills Like the One That Had Occurred Only Months Before the EIR was Issued.
- In “Mitigating” the Noise Impacts of Drilling, the EIR Allows a Noise Increase in Residential Areas Already Subjected to Excessive Noise.
- The EIR Entirely Abdicated the Obligation to Consider the Significance of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
- The EIR Failed to Include Feasible Mitigation Measures that Would Help Protect Surrounding Residents.
- The EIR Lacks an Adequate Analysis of the Social, Economic and Environmental Justice Effects and Physical Changes Caused by the Project.
- The Regulations Unlawfully Deferred the Implementation of Enforceable Mitigation.
- The Final EIR Should Have Been Recirculated.
Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles and The City Project have filed one of four lawsuits against the County of Los Angeles to protect people, homes, and parklands in the Baldwin Hills more than oil company profits. The suit challenges the County’s environmental impact report and oil drilling regulations covering the oil field adjoining the Baldwin Hills Park for failure to provide adequate health and environmental safeguards in a dense and diverse community that has long suffered from environmental degradation and discrimination. The suit filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenges the urban blight caused by the oil field operations and regulations. A flurry of lawsuits has been filed, including suits by Community Health Councils, NRDC, Culver City, and Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community.
Mark Williams of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles said, “The Baldwin Hills Park is the greatest public works project in the history of our community. This is about the future of our children, our front yard, our back yard, our homes, our schools, our lives. We want to make sure that the oil drilling regulations protect the people, and the environmental impact report provides full and fair information to let the people decide what is best for them.”
According to Zoe Rawson, a Staff Attorney with The City Project, “We are filing this suit to protect the community against the hurtful social and environmental consequences of expanding oil drilling in a densely populated urban community, and to ensure that the people have access to justice against big oil companies and the officials elected to represent them.”
The oil field regulations must ensure that the average rate of new oil wells does not exceed the average increase of wells studied in the environmental impact report. The regulations presently would permit 600 new oils wells over the next 20 years without further environmental analysis and with only ministerial permits. The EIR studied a net increase of only 453 new oil wells.
The regulations and environmental impact report fail to reflect a vision for transition of the oil field to parklands.
Concerned Citizens and The City Project have long worked with the community to protect the Baldwin Hills community, parklands and environment. They have worked with the Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance in the almost two year process to regulate the oil field and protect the people. In 2001, they helped the community stop a proposed power plant in the Baldwin Hills. The City Project worked with the community to stop a garbage dump in 2003, stop a proposal to close the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and eliminate its budget in 2005, and stop 24 new oil wells in 2007. Currently, Concerned Citizens and The City Project are working with other community leaders to enforce a 2004 Consent Decree under the Clean Water Act to fix the sewer system and stop sewer odors in the Baldwin Hills area.
Click on the following links to download each lawsuit:
- The suit by Concerned Citizens
- The suit by Community Health Councils et al.
- The suit by Culver City
- The suit by Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community
The Final Environmental Impact Report is available here.
The oil field regulations or Community Standards District (CSD) is available here.
The public comments analyzing the Baldwin Hills community and park by Concerned Citizens, The City Project and others are available here.
The beauty of the Baldwin Hills parks and homes is marred by urban oil field blight. Download 22 images of the active oil fields taken from the final Environmental Impact Report.
Neighborhood groups, homeowners’ associations and community-based organizations compose the Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance, which represents more than 50,000 households. The Alliance was convened by Community Health Councils and The City Project with technical support from the UCLA Department of Public Health to ensure community participation in the EIR/CSD development process.
Click on the image above to view coverage of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors hearing on the oil field regulations and environmental impact report on October 20, 2008.
Jim Lafferty interviews NRDC’s Staff Attorney Daman Nagami and The City Project’s President and Counsel Robert Garcia about the Baldwin Hills lawsuits seeking to improve the environmental impact report and oil field regulations.
Listen to the complete December 4, 2008, KPFK podcast by clicking here.
Listen to the Baldwin Hills highlights of the KPFK broadcast by clicking here.
KNX 1070 News Radio’s Michael Lindner conducts exclusive interviews on the Baldwin Hills oil field with members of the Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance and others. Listen to the KNX broadcast.
More on Baldwin Hills in the News is available here.
The Baldwin Hills and African Americans in L.A. and the Nation
Professor Josh Sides describes the unique role of the Baldwin Hills in the history of African Americans in Los Angeles and across the nation:
By the late 1950s and early 1960s, blacks had pushed west and south of West Adams into Leimert Park and the exclusive area of Baldwin Hills, which quickly became the heart of affluent black Los Angeles, a position it still holds today. A five-square-mile area of unincorporated hillside west of Leimert Park/ Crenshaw and south of West Adams, Baldwin Hills boasted large homes and expansive views. Largely undeveloped until the 1940s, hundreds of houses and apartment complexes were built there in the 1950s. As they had in Compton, blacks moved into new and large homes, with an average of four to six bedrooms per household. African Americans in Baldwin Hills were generally much better educated than their South Central counterparts, a fact that translated into greater job opportunities in the post-boom economy. Accordingly, just over 71 percent of all employed African Americans in Baldwin Hills were white-collar workers. Many Baldwin Hills residents were typical of those who fled South Central after the Watts riot; according to the 1970 census, 57 percent of blacks in Baldwin Hills had lived in the central city in 1965.
In addition to superior housing, residents of Baldwin Hills and the nearby Leimert Park and Crenshaw areas also enjoyed many more conveniences as consumers. While many Watts and Willowbrook residents were forced to buy groceries at overpriced liquor stores, Baldwin Hills residents had other options. The Crenshaw Shopping Center, opened in 1947, as one of the first planned suburban malls in the United States, was the most popular shopping area for local residents. And, during the 1960s, the Baldwin Hills Center and the Ladera Center also opened, offering residents even greater selection and convenience. Central to this improved consumer selection, and middle-class life in general, was the greater mobility of Baldwin Hills residents relative to blacks in the central city. Whereas 57 percent of Baldwin Hills households had one car, and 37 percent had two or more cars, a survey of Watts residents found that 57 percent did not own a car.
Perhaps the greatest advantage to residing in Baldwin Hills was the superior quality of the area’s public schools. In 1971, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning described Baldwin Hills public schools as the “the best schools of any city area inhabited primarily by black people” and !on par with those in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.” In addition to boasting low dropout rates and small class sizes relative to public schools in Watts and South Central, public schools in Baldwin Hills were also more racially integrated.
Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present 190-91 (2003).
Click on the image to see a poster size aerial view of the Baldwin Hills with demographic information.
Background on the Baldwin Hills CSD, Oil, and Community Health
The following documents provide background information on the Baldwin Hills community standards district, oil operations, and envirohmental and human health. Click on each title to download each document.
A Report on the Baldwin Hills Community and Parks [PDF, 196 KB]
Public Comments on NOP of EIR for the Baldwin Hills [PDF, 158 KB]
Outline for Community Standards District Response [PDF, 200 KB]
Draft Baldwin Hills Community Standards District by PXP [2.6 MB (December 2007)]
The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance Community Standards District
The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance is ensuring that the Baldwin Hills are clean and green for all for generations to come. The Alliance has prepared a draft Community Standards District to regulate oil drilling in the Baldwin Hills. The Community Standards District is available to download below.
“We recognize the pressure to rely more on domestic sources for crude oil in this climate of escalating prices, but we need to tap local resources in a clean, ‘green,’ sustainable way—the way it is done in other communities,” says Lark Galloway-Gilliam, Executive Director of Community Health Councils, an Alliance member. “Residents are asking the County to create a Community Standards District (CSD) that values the community’s well being, conservation and environmental goals more than a barrel of oil.”
The County has delayed the release of a draft Environmental Impact Report many times. At the Press Conference, Alliance members will unveil their initial recommendations for the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District and ask PXP to enter into an agreement with the County to maintain the conditions of a moratorium on new oil drilling until a final CSD is adopted by the Board of Supervisors.
The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance recommendations include:
- Eliminate potential health risks and environmental impacts associated with the oil field operation through consolidation
- Provide enforceable environmental and health protections including monitoring sanctions and penalties
- Provide for the clean up and eventual transition of the land to parkland consistent with the Baldwin Hills Park Master Plan
- Support residential living, open space, recreation, schools, critical habitats and improve the current aesthetics of the oil field
- Establish oversight from a multi-sector advisory committee including residents.
“The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance will work with the community, the County, and PXP to ensure the Baldwin Hills are clean and green for all for generations to come,” according to Alliance member Robert Garcia, Executive Director and Counsel for The City Project.
The Alliance is working to guarantee that drilling practices are compatible with the health and well being of its communities and with long-range conservation and environmental goals. “The Alliance’s CSD represents a reasonable and prudent balance of private interests in short-term profit, and public interests in livability, sustainability, health, and the environment,” says Brian Cole, Project Manager, Health Impact Assessment Project, UCLA School of Public Health.
Click on each title to download the following two documents:
Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance Community Standards District Working Draft June 19, 2008 [PDF, 318 KB]
Letter to County re Alliance Community Standards District June 18, 2008 [PDF, 296 KB]
Visit the Community Health Councils web site for more information about what you can do to keep the Baldwin Hills Green and Clean for All for Generations to Come!
The County of Los Angeles has published draft regulations — known as the “County Draft Version 4” of the CSD — in anticipation of the Board of Supervisors taking action at public hearings on October 21 and 28, 2008.
The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance continues to advocate for regulations that will put people, homes, and parks before oil company profits.
The Alliance continues to fight for the following major reforms:
- 1. The County’s draft regulations would allow too many new oil wells to be approved with no public accountability. “PXP estimates on average: 15-20 new wells operating each year,” according to PXP’s own sworn testimony and brochure. The County should hold PXP to its word and limit new wells to 15-20 each year.
- 2. Oil field clean up must start now. Clean up must not be deferred for decades until after “permanent facility shut down.”
- 3. Implementation guidelines must be prepared now.
- 4. The regulations must reflect a long-term vision and plan to restore the oil field to a natural state including parklands consistent with the General Plan.
Read the Alliance’s position paper calling for revisions of the draft CSD regulations here (two pages).
And, oh yes, the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) just came out and it does not cover the draft regulations known as “County Draft Version 4” at all, but only an old, abandoned draft by PXP.
The County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to consider the CSD and FEIR at 9:30 a.m. on October 21, 2008 at the following location:
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
See the Board Packet for more information.
You can download the regulations known as the “County Draft Version 4 CSD” here.
You can download the so-called Final Environmental Impact Report analyzing the abandoned draft CSD here. Unfortunately, there is no Environmental Impact Report on the County Draft Version 4 CSD! Go figure.
Public Comment and Review Period from June 20 to August 19, 2008
Written comments on the DEIR are due August 19, 2008, to: Paul McCarthy
County of Los Angeles
Department of Regional Planning
Impact Analysis Section, Room 1348
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012 http://planning.lacounty.gov/spBH.htm#Resources
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is available below. Hard copies of the DEIR can also be viewed at the View Park Library and Culver City Julian Dixon Library.
The County Department of Regional Planning on August 13, 2008, released a draft Community Standards District to regulate the Baldwin Hills oil field. Click here to download the CSD. According to the County:
“This draft was prepared by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Department in consulting with staff from other County departments, our environmental consultant and interested parties. It includes all of the mitigation measures identified in the Draft Environmental Impact Report, along with additional provisions to address issues expressed by the community through comments provided in the Planning Department’s outreach efforts. This draft is intended as a working document and is subject to change up until the time that the Board of Supervisors adopts the CSD. The upcoming public hearings will provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on the County’s Draft CSD.”
The County’s draft builds on prior drafts by the oil company and the Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance.
Public comments on the draft Community Standards District can be presented at the upcoming public hearings on August 14, August 27, and September 10, 2008.
The Department of Regional Planning and environmental consultant, Marine Research Specialists, will be conducting two public workshops to provide information and receive comments on the CSD and DEIR. The workshop content will be identical to allow interested persons to attend on the date and location most convenient for them. The workshops will be held at:
July 17, 2008
7:00 pm– 9:00 pm
Veteran’s Memorial Complex
4117 Overland Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230
July 22, 2008
7:00 pm– 9:00 pm
Knox Presbyterian Church
5840 La Tijera Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90056
The Regional Planning Commission will hold public hearings to receive public testimony and consider the DEIR and CSD. The hearings will be held:
August 2, 2008
West Los Angeles College, Room FA 100
9000 Overland Avenue
Culver City, CA
August 14, 2008
3725 Don Felipe Drive
Los Angeles, CA
August 27, 2008
Hall of Administration, Room 150
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
September 10 , 2008
County Commission Planning Hearing Room
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Draft EIR Documents
Hard copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) can also be viewed at the View Park Library and Culver City Julian Dixon Library.