Tomorrow’s elections in Los Angeles will offer a glimpse of what kind of city and neighborhood we want to live in. The national political mood has been sour. Plutocrats have avoided punishment for the financial crisis they caused. Now they are using the drumbeat of austerity to attack social programs, environmental regulations and workers.
I have higher hopes for Los Angeles and Council District 14. One of the candidates for City Council in CD 14, , has a track record of advancing environmental justice.
In my regular “Eco Soul” column on Eagle Rock Patch, I have written about to reverse concentrations of hazardous pollution in low-income neighborhoods. Councilmember Huizar was one of four co-sponsors of a recently-introduced Clean Up, Green Up strategies motion in the City Council to adopt the recommendations of environmental justice advocates into law.
Because I work on food issues and consider , I applaud Huizar’s leadership on the City of Los Angeles’ Surplus Food Policy. This policy, which Huizar introduced (and 5th District Councilmember Paul Koretz endorsed) in 2009 and which became law in December 2010, requires City departments to donate surplus food from events they sponsor to food banks and pantries. Food that previously would have been thrown into landfills will feed hungry people. And the need is great. Nearly a million people, approximately 10 percent of the population of Los Angeles County, received food assistance from pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in 2009. That’s a 46 percent increase from 2005—with an alarming 112 percent increase in the number of children receiving food assistance.
and the region. I was impressed to see that when he was asked in a recent interview what he hopes the district will look like in four years, Huizar replied: “I would say that we will see a lot more people walking and shopping and strolling in their neighborhoods—more pedestrian-friendly, more bike-friendly. More people going to local areas to get their amenities.”
Huizar supported efforts by bike advocates and Café de Leche to get the city to install Los Angeles’ first bike corral on York Boulevard. The councilmember is also supporting Living Streets in conducting a community planning exercise to identify . I hope Huizar will do the same for Colorado Boulevard, where there is increasing interest in removing traffic lanes.
When I asked the Huizar campaign about his environmental accomplishments and priorities, they also pointed to his work to preserve open space and create parks. They point to the Councilman’s work on the Northeast Hillside Ordinance, which “protects our hillsides in El Sereno and Lincoln Heights by putting in-check unsafe development and creating reasonable, safe and uniform standards for new hillside construction” and the proposed Baseline Hillside Ordinance.
Huizar is also proud of the city’s purchase and preservation of 19 acres on Elephant Hill and designation of the nearly 100-acre Ascot Hills Nature Park, which is scheduled to open in the near future after a long delay. Parks and limits on hillside development are important to ensure recreational opportunities and preserve ecosystems in Northeast Los Angeles. One area in which I would disagree with the councilmember is his support for Councilmember Ed Reyes’s motions to single out solar projects for heightened scrutiny.
I know less about the environmental values and goals of Huizar’s opponent, Rudy Martinez. His campaign did not respond to my inquiry about Martinez’ environmental priorities for CD 14. Given my interest in walkable public spaces, I find it troubling that he removed a street tree in front of a business he owns.
I would encourage CD 14 voters to re-elect councilmember Huizar and then to continue to pressure him to work for a more sustainable and just district and city.