Environmental Justice for All: Struggle in Baldwin Hills and South Central Los Angeles, Journal of Poverty Law and Policy

Posted: January 17th, 2013

The City Project’s article on Environmental Justice for All: Struggle in Baldwin Hills and South Central Los Angeles appears in the Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy (Nov/Dec 2012).

The Baldwin Hills and South Central Los Angeles constitute the historic heart of African American Los Angeles. . . . These communities have long strived for equal access to public resources such as parks and recreation. They have also struggled to be free of environmental degradation, such as sewage overflows and urban oil fields. . . .

Together with [Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles] and other diverse allies, we are making a dream come true: Baldwin Hills Park, the largest urban park designed in the United States in over a century. We have also fought to regulate the adjoining Baldwin Hills oil fields to protect human health and the environment better. This work has defined the standard for protecting human health and the environment in urban oil fields, including those in communities of color and low-income. We have helped fix the sewer system citywide to eliminate noxious odors and create park and clean water projects. We are accomplishing this through a $2 billion settlement agreement in what the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called one of the largest sewage cases in U.S. history, and the first time the Clean Water Act has been used to clean up sewer odors.

Although Baldwin Hills may be comparatively well-off financially, it is plagued by the inequality and environmental injustice common to communities of color and to South Central and other low-income communities . . . . 

Mark Williams, one of Concerned Citizens’ founding members and current board member, “Concerned Citizens is about environmental justice, places to play in parks and schools, affordable housing, economic development and local jobs, the community taking part in making decisions that affect our lives….The environment is not just about the absence of contamination.

[The struggle for environmental justice illustrates] principles of equitable infrastructure that can be implemented in and out of court: invest in people, invest in healthy communities, invest in democracy, and invest in justice.

Click here to read full article Environmental Justice for All: Struggle in the Baldwin Hills and South Central Los Angelesby The City Project’s Robert García and Ramya Sivasubramanian.