East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice info@eycej.org 323.263.2113

Yes on Prop. 15 & 21/Si en Prop. 15 y 21

EYCEJ says Yes on Prop 15 & Prop 21 *espanol al siguiente*

Through an extensive and democratic process, the hundreds of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice members from East LA, Southeast LA and Long Beach have reached consensus in support of both Proposition 15 and 21, two propositions that will be voted on in November.

 What is consensus? 

Consensus is when the collective membership decides to support, be against, or stay neutral on a topic. Our intention is for the collective to come to an understanding of why the whole is moving forward even if the vote on it isn’t unanimous. Some folks may not support or want to be neutral but can support the organization as a whole in moving in a direction as agreed upon by the membership. Both Proposition 15 and Prop 21 were presented to our members, the former in late July and latter in August, we deliberated, and reached consensus in support of both propositions in September. 

How does Prop 15 & 21 impact our communities?

With property values and inflation skyrocketing in the 1970’s, many landlords and homeowners, most of whom were concentrated in wealthier communities, pushed to curb annual property taxes. Prop 13 was passed with the understanding it would address rising rental housing prices as well. When landlords instead decided to pocket their savings from capped property taxes, individual cities began passing rent control. In response, the landlord/real estate lobby pushed for Costa Hawkins in 1995, which heavily limited to what extent cities can stabilize local rents. We are now dealing with the implications of both Proposition 13 and the Costa Hawkins Act.

We are in support of Prop 15 because it would increase property taxes on corporations worth more than $3 million, such as Chevron, Disney, and BNSF, and allocate this revenue towards our local schools and communities. It is time we make these polluters pay their fair share in property taxes while protecting all homeowners, renters, and small businesses. Currently, because of Prop 13 commercial and industrial properties are taxed based on their original purchase price. Chevron, for example, has saved over $100 million a year on taxes for 45 years, as its property is assessed at 1975 rates. Big polluters like BNSF, which we have been in a long fight against, are valued at over $81 billion (2016), yet are taxed at rates set in the 1970s. They are among the corporations that have flooded large amounts of money into the fight against Proposition 15. Prop 15 will provide minority-owned small businesses with the biggest tax cut in decades while also reclaiming billions every year for our schools, community colleges, and essential local services in every county to invest in things like: class sizes, healthcare services, fighting homelessness, firefighters and their equipment, safe drinking water, and preparing for future disasters such as wildfire, pandemic, or earthquake. If Proposition 15 fails, these large corporations will continue to get richer at the expense of our health and our environment. Our communities have been subsidizing the goods movement with our health for far too long.

EYCEJ stands in favor of Prop 21 because it allows cities to set their own rent limits and expand protections to vulnerable renters while still protecting mom and pop landlords. Prop 21 will benefit a large portion of our membership, a majority of whom are renters of single-family homes or duplexes throughout East LA, Southeast LA, and Long Beach. This is an environmental justice issue because increased housing costs are worsening traffic congestion by forcing us to live further away from our jobs. Our economy needs essential workers, yet fails to provide them adequate housing. Due to the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, these are the people most vulnerable to large rent increases and unjust evictions. However, Prop 21 would allow us to expand protections to those hardest hit.  Even our members who are landlords and homeowners support Prop 21, partly because it does not impact landlords of 2 units or less, but mainly because it is the right thing to do to promote community stability.  As several of our members said, “We’re not greedy landlords! We’re not here to capitalize off of someone else.”  The California Apartment Association is a major opponent of Prop 21, and spoke against Long Beach and SELA eviction moratoriums last year, claiming to represent mom and pop landlords. However they are mainly funded by the same Wall Street corporations that own a large portion of single family rentals in our communities and pricing us out.  

What’s at risk?

If Proposition 15 and 21 fail, our current housing and educational situation will not improve; we cannot continue with the status quo. We know that there are various concerns and lies about both Prop 15 and 21 and we are here to dyspell them.

Proposition 15 will not impact homeowners. It only involves commercial property valued over $3 million. If Prop 15 does not pass, our public schools and communities will continue to be hurting for much needed funding, especially during this pandemic. This is why we are demanding that these companies that have gotten off paying the bare minimum for decades, pay their fair share! 

We also demand that corporate landlords stop profiting off the backs of heavily rent-burdened tenants! Proposition 21 does not target mom and pop landlords, it is specifically written to target corporate landlords that capitalized from the Foreclosure Crisis at the expense of Black and Brown communities. Post-pandemic, we do not want a repeat of 2008. Proposition 21 will allow cities to keep people in their homes and protect single family home property owners. As many of our members who own or rent out properties acknowledged, Proposition 21 doesn’t prevent a landlord’s right to a fair rate of return; it would only allow cities to cap unreasonable rent increases. Although Prop 21 is a small remedy, it will help more of our communities stay in their homes. It will prevent displacement, allow us to push for more expansive tenant protections at the local level, and it won’t stop us from fighting for the complete repeal of Costa Hawkins. Should both Propositions 15 and 21 fail, we as an organization will make sure that our voices are heard and we will continue to advocate and fight for stronger regulations to keep our communities safe and make sure that we can thrive in a healthy and sustainable manner. 


EYCEJ dice sí a la Propuesta 15 & Prop 21 

Por medio de un proceso extenso y democratico, les cientos de miembres de East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice del Este de LA, Sureste de Los Angeles, y Long Beach han llegado a consenso en apoyar ambas propuestas 15 y 21, dos proposiciones que pasarán a voto en Noviembre.  

 Que es consenso? 

El consenso es cuando la membresía colectivamente decide apoyar, estar en contra, o neutral sobre un tema.  Nuestra intención es que el colectivo llegue a un entendimiento de porque el grupo sigue adelante aunque el voto no sea unánime. Algunas personas quizás no apoyen o desean permanecer neutral pero apoyan que la organización siga en esa dirección de acuerdo con la membresía. Ambas propuestas 15 y 21 fueron presentadas a nuestres miembres, la primera en julio, la segunda en agosto, deliberamos, y logramos consenso para apoyar ambas propuestas en Septiembre. 

¿Cómo impactan las propuestas 15 y 21 a nuestras comunidades? 

Con valores de propiedad e inflación rápida de los 1970’s, muchos propietarios, la mayoría de los cuáles estaban concentrados en comunidades ricas, empujaron para reducir los impuestos de propiedad anual. Propuesta 13 paso con el entendido que respondería a los aumentos en precios de viviendas rentadas.

  Cuando los propietarios decidieron meter sus ahorros de límites en los impuestos de propiedad en sus bolsillos, ciudades individuales empezaron a pasar control de rentas. En respuesta, grupos de presión de propietarios/bienes raíces empujaron la ley Costa Hawkins en 1995, que fuertemente limitó la estabilización de rentas locales por ciudades. Ahora estamos enfrentando las consecuencias de ambas Proposición 13 y la ley Costa Hawkins.

Estamos en apoyo de proposición 15 porque aumentará los impuestos de propiedad para corporaciones que valen más de $3 millones, como Chevron, Disney, y BNSF, y dirigirá los fondos hacia nuestras escuelas y comunidades. Es hora que contaminadores paguen su porción justa de impuestos propietarios y al mismo tiempo proteger a dueñes de vivienda, inquilines, y negocios pequeños. En el presente, por Proposición 13, propiedades comerciales e industriales pagan impuesto basado en el precio de la compra original. Chevron, por ejemplo, ha ahorrado más de $100 millones al año en impuestos por 45 años porque su propiedad está asesorada a los niveles de 1975. Estas son las compañías que necesitan pagar su porción justa, contaminadores grandes como BNSF, contra quien hemos luchado por mucho tiempo, tienen valor de $81 billones (2016), sin embargo sus impuestos son los mismos fijados en los 1970’s. Están entre las corporaciones que han inundado con sumas grandes de dinero la lucha en contra de Proposición 15. Proposición 15 proveerá negocios pequeños cuyos dueñes sean menorias con los cortes más grandes  a sus impuestos que han visto en décadas y al mismo tiempo reclamar billones anualmente para nuestras escuelas, colegios comunitarios, y servicios locales esenciales en cada condado para invertir en cosas como: tamaño de clases, servicios de salud, luchar contra indigencia, bomberos y sus herramientas, agua potable segura y preparación para futuros desastres como incendios, pandemias, o sismos. Si la proposición 15 no pasa, estas corporaciones grandes continuarán haciéndose ricos a costo de nuestra salud y ambiente. Nuestras comunidades han estado subvencionando el movimiento de mercancías con nuestra salud por demasiado tiempo.

EYCEJ está a favor de Proposición 21 porque permite que ciudades fijen sus propios límites de renta y expande protecciones a inquilines vulnerables y al mismo tiempo protege a dueñes de propiedad pequeños. Proposición 21 beneficiará a una gran porción de nuestra membresía, la mayoría son inquilines de viviendas únicas o duplex en el Este de LA, Sureste de LA y Long Beach. Este es un tema de justicia ambiental por que  aumentos en costo de vivienda están empeorando la congestión de tráfico al forzarnos a vivir más lejos de nuestros trabajos. Nuestra comunidad necesita trabajadores esenciales, pero falla en proveer vivienda adecuada. Por la ley de rentas de vivienda Costa-Hawkins, estas son las personas mas vulnerables a aumentos altos de renta y desalojos injustos.  Sin embargo, Proposición 21 nos permitirá expandir protecciones a les mas afectades. Hasta nuestres miembres que son dueñes de propiedades apoyan Proposición 21, parcialmente porque no impacta a dueñes con 2 unidades o menos, pero principalmente porque es lo correcto para promover estabilidad comunitaria. Como varies de nuestres miembres dijeron, “No somos dueñes codicioses! No estamos aquí para tomar ventaja financiera de alguien mas.” La Asociación de Apartamentos de California es un contrincante principal de Proposición 21, y el año pasado se presentó en Long Beach y SELA en contra de protecciones de desalojo, diciendo que representaban propietarios pequeños.  Sin embargo, sus fondos principales vienen de las mismas corporaciones de Wall Street que son dueñes de grandes cantidades de casas individuales de renta en nuestras comunidades y nos están cobrando hasta tener que mudarnos. 

¿Que está a riesgo?

Si las Proposiciones 15 y 21 no pasan, nuestras situaciones de vivienda y educación no mejorarían; no podemos continuar así. Sabemos que hay varias preocupaciones y mentiras sobre ambas Proposiciones 15 y 21 y estamos aquí para corregirlas. 

Proposición 15 no va a impactar dueñes de casa. Solo incluye propiedad comercial valorada en más de $3 millones. Si la Proposición 15 no pasa, nuestras escuelas públicas y comunidades continuarán sufriendo por la necesidad de fondos, especialmente durante la pandemia. Por eso estamos exigiendo que estas compañías que hasta ahorita solo han pagado lo mínimo paguen lo justo!  

También exigimos que propietarios corporativos dejen de hacer ganancia sobre las espaldas de inquilines que batallan en pagar la renta! Proposición 21 no incluye propietaries pequeñes. Esta especificamente escrito para incluir propietaries corporativos que han beneficiado de la Crisis de Ejecucion de Hipoteca a costa de comunidades Negras y de color. Después de la pandemia, no queremos que se repita lo del 2008. Proposición 21 permitirá que las ciudades mantengan a personas en sus hogares y protejan a inquilines en viviendas individuales. Como reconocieron muches de nuestres miembres que son dueñes o rentan, Proposición 21 no previene el derecho a que un propietario no reciba un regreso financiero justo; solo permitirá que ciudades pongan límites en aumentos de renta no razonables.  Aunque Proposición 21 es un remedio pequeño, ayudará a que nuestres miembres permanezcan en sus hogares. Será prevención de desalojo, nos permitirá empujar para más protecciones de inquiline extensas a nivel local y no nos detendrá de luchar por la revocación completa de Costa Hawkins. Si ambas Proposiciones 15 y 21 fallan, como organización nos aseguraremos  que nuestras voces sean escuchadas y continuaremos abogando y luchando por reglamentos fuertes para mantener a nuestras comunidades seguras y asegurarnos que podamos prosperar de forma saludable y sostenible. 

New Leadership, same community// Nuevo Liderazgo, misma comunidad

Statement from EYCEJ’s board President// Mensaje de Presidenta de la Junta Directiva de EYCEJ

Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative 2020

I have had the privilege to have been part of EYCEJ through each stage of its exceptional leadership transitions, and I am not only excited for our most recent transition but also immensely proud to have Laura and Taylor take on the Directorship. 

As mark! explained in his announcement of our restructuring, “The presence of our strength is most felt in our community building and leadership development.” This is what I have witnessed since 2007, community building and leadership development in ways I have never seen elsewhere even through my 15 years as a school and district leader. 

East Yard’s unique ability to center the voices of our community as well as empower and build leadership throughout our intergenerational membership bodies and our team, will only be strengthened with Laura and Taylor as Directors. Laura and Taylor have, indeed, been EYCEJ leaders from the time they were members and have continued to lead us in their respective roles as only fierce Black and brown femmes do. 

I am confident that with the same Black and brown fierce femme energy they have led in their previous roles, as directors, Laura and Taylor will propel EYCEJ to our next chapter of community building and leadership development–centering and uplifting the voices of our community while relentlessly fighting for our lives against the environmental racism and oppressive systems we are forced to experience. 

Angelo Logan our c0-founder has often reminded us that EYCEJ is an aspirational organization. There is very little that we do that is like any other organization and having a tri-directorship between mark!, Laura, and Taylor to support their transition to co-directors is just one more example of our aspirational nature. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by a team and intergenerational members and funders and allies who get this and who live and breathe the “lifelong lucha”.

I and the rest of the Board are absolutely looking forward to continuing to rock with you Laura and Taylor! The revolution has come–La lucha sigue y sigue y seguirá hasta la victoria siempre. 

Many blessings on this next part of our journey honoring our ancestors as we fight for our lives and the lives of our communities. 

In solidarity, 

He tenido el privilegio de ser parte de EYCEJ  por cada etapa de sus transiciones de liderazgo excepcionales, y no solo estoy emocionada por nuestra transición más reciente si no también inmensamente orgullosa de Laura y Taylor que tomen el ser Directoras. 

Como explicó mark! En su anuncio sobre nuestra reestructura, “La presencia de nuestra fuerza se siente más en nuestra creación de comunidad y desarrollo de liderazgo.” Esto es lo que he atestiguado desde 2007, creación de comunidad y desarrollo de liderazgo  en maneras que nunca he visto en otro lugar en mis 15 años como líder escolar y de distrito. 

La habilidad única de East Yard de  centrar las voces de nuestra comunidad y también empoderar y crear liderazgo a través de nuestras membresías intergeneracionales y nuestro equipo solo será más fuerte con Laura y Taylor como Directoras. Laura y Taylor han sido líderes en EYCEJ desde que empezaron como miembras y han continuado a dirigirnos en sus papeles respectivos como solo mujeres fieras Negra y de color pueden. 

Tengo confianza que con la misma energia fiera Negra y de color que han dirigido sus papeles anteriores, como directoras, Laura y Taylor propulsaran a EYCEJ al proximo capitulo de crecimiento comunitario y desarrollo de liderazgo–centrando y alzando las voces de nuestra comunidad mientras luchando implacablemente por nuestras vidas en contra del racismo ambiental y sistemas opresivos que somos forzades a vivir. 

Nuestro co-fundador Angelo Logan nos ha recordado frecuentemente que EYCEJ es una organización con aspiraciones. Hay muy poco que hacemos que es como otras organizaciones y tener tres directores, mark!, Laura, y Taylor para apoyar su transición a co-directoras es solo un ejemplo más de nuestra naturaleza aspiracional. Estamos realmente bendecides de estar rodeades por un equipo y miembres intergeneracionales y fundadores y aliades que entienden esto y que viven y respiran por la “lucha de por vida.”  

Yo y el resto de Junta Directiva estamos completamente listes para seguir con ustedes Laura y Taylor! La revolución ha llegado–La lucha sigue y sigue y seguirá hasta la victoria siempre. 

Muchas bendiciones en esta proxima parte de nuestra travesía honrando a nuestres ancestros mientras continuamos luchando por nuestras vidas y las vidas de nuestras comunidades. 

En solidaridad, 

Statement from EYCEJ’s Co-Executive Directors/Anuncio de Co-Directoras Ejecutivas de EYCEJ

*Español abajo*

We are so appreciative of the love and support that our communities and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (“EYCEJ”) has given us. Upon starting at EYCEJ, our knowledge of the environmental racism, pollution and health impacts that surrounded us was limited; we stand now as examples of East Yard’s leadership development and investment in our hoods. 

We are excited that EYCEJ members and team have entrusted us to continue leading this distributive leadership organization. As long standing friends, we are particularly excited to take on this responsibility together.

This year has brought us COVID-19 and magnified the need to stand with our Black comrades for racial justice. We do not know what else will come this week, this year, or in the next ten years. We are fully aware of the challenges to “success” that come with being Black and brown femmes.

Despite this, our vision to grow EYCEJ’s transformative change centering community is resolute.

This is an exceptionally critical time for us not only because of COVID-19, but because organizational transitions sometimes give the impression of internal instability, so community organizations can experience a significant drop in funding during those periods. This fear is heightened for us because as a non-hierarchical organization with a flat pay structure, our organizing and community building model is often misunderstood and not taken seriously.

That said, we appreciate our members, allies, and funders who are part of and champion EYCEJ, as well as those folks who have thought about engaging with us, we see you, and we invite you to attend our events, come to our community meetings, get to know us and see us in action, because that’s where the work happens and that’s where our bonds and relationships with each other are formed.

EYCEJ will continue to thrive because our Co-Directorship  will continue to center our members as the leaders of this organization . Through our transition, we will be carrying on EYCEJ’s legacy of leading with and centering community concern. For us, it is a way of life and a lifelong lucha, and we hope you will still rock with us going forward as we continue to challenge these oppressive systems and fight for the health and well-being of our communities.

La lucha sigue!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Estamos tan agradecidas del amor y apoyo que nuestras comunidades y East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (“EYCEJ”) nos a brindado. Al empezar en EYCEJ, nuestro conocimiento sobre racismo ambiental, contaminación e impactos de salud era muy limitado; ahora estamos ante ustedes como ejemplos del desarrollo de liderazgo de East Yard’s e inversión que ha aportado a nuestros vecindarios.

Estamos felices que les miembres y equipo de EYCEJ nos confíen en dirigir esta organización de liderazgo distribuido. Como viejas amigas, estamos particularmente felices de tomar esta responsabilidad juntas.

Este año nos ha traido COVID-19 y a resaltado la necesidad de pararnos junto a nuestres compañeres Negres por justicia racial. No sabemos qué vendrá esta semana, este año, o los próximos 10 años. También sabemos completamente los enfrentamientos as ser “exitosas” que vienen con ser mujeres Negra y cafe.

Sin embargo, nuestra visión para crear un cambio transformativo con EYCEJ centrado en la comunidad sigue.

Este es un momento especialmente crítico no solo por COVID-19, si no porque transiciones en organizaciones pueden dar la impresión de inestabilidad interna, así que organizaciones comunitarias pueden tener una reducción de fondos durante esos periodos. Esta preocupación aumenta para nosotros por ser organización sin jerarquía con paga igual, y que nuestro organizar y modelo de crear comunidad frecuentemente son mal entendidos y no tomados en serio.

Eso dicho, agradecemos nuestres miembres, aliades y fundadores que son parte y campeones de EYCEJ, al igual a esas personas que han pensado en involucrarse, te vemos, y te invitamos a participar en nuestros eventos, venir a nuestras reuniones, conocernos y vernos en acción, porque ahí pasa el trabajo y se forman nuestros lazos y relaciones.

EYCEJ continuará floreciendo porque nuestra dirección ejecutiva seguirá al centro de nuestres miembres como líderes de esta organización. Por medio de nuestra transición cargaremos el legado de EYCEJ a dirigir con las preocupaciones de la comunidad. Para nosotros, este es un estilo de vida y lucha de por vida, y esperamos que sigan con nosotros mientras continuamos retando estos sistemas opresivos y luchamos por la salud y bienestar de nuestras comunidades.

La lucha sigue!

East Yard Leadership in Transition

Last night at our 7th Annual Fighting For Life Celebration our Executive Director mark! Lopez announced his transition out of the ED role. mark! joined East Yard as a Member in 2009, came on to the Team in 2012 as the Lead Organizer, became a Co-Director along with one of EYCEJ’s founders Angelo Logan, and has served as our Executive Director for over 6 years. mark! will continue to be an active Member and over the next couple of months transition into a new role, Director of Special Projects, while Laura Cortez and Taylor Thomas transition into Co-Executive Directors of East Yard. Please find the text of the speech he gave last night below:

****Speech given by mark! 8.27.20****

We don’t measure East Yard by the deliverables we meet, the policies we pass or defeat, the funds we raise, or even the polluters we smash.

The presence of our strength is most felt in our community building and leadership development.

It’s visible from our membership spaces where new leadership is developed consistently, to our team, most of whom have come through our membership, and our Board of Directors which come exclusively from our membership.

We engage thousands of community members every year. Our membership spaces on the Eastside, in Southeast LA & Long Beach bring together hundreds of our members weekly, bi weekly and monthly.

Because of the strength of our foundation, our organizational culture continues to get stronger. Because of our organizational culture, the impact of our movement deepens and widens. And through this we continually innovate, reflect, restrategize and keep it moving.

It is in this spirit that we have been processing restructuring internally for years. Over the last year and a half we have been engaging in dialogue with our team, our Board, and all of our membership bodies to transition Laura and Taylor into the Executive leadership positions for East Yard. This has been a long and deliberate process and though this transition is news to many of you, we, East Yard collectively, have been working at it for some time now.

Laura, Taylor and I will be in a tri-Directorship into 2021, after which Laura and Taylor will become Co-Executive Directors of East Yard. I will be stepping down, but not out, as I will serve as the Director of Special Projects. I am beyond excited for this transition. This transition feels reinvigorating for me and I hope you all are as excited as I am to continue following the leadership of Laura and Taylor.

You Can’t Spell East Yard without Bob Eula

By Gilbert Estrada, Ph.D.

Bob Eula is East Yard.  He was the heart, soul, and crucial part of three young men who tried to fix a serious problem. 

He was the councilman, friend, concerned citizen, and active partisan that worked for a better future.  The world was truly a better place with him here. 

Robert Eula arrived in the City of Commerce before there was a Commerce.  A bright eyed 16-year-old who moved from Connecticut to the Commerce area at his father’s doctor’s recommendation.  His physician, like many in the 1940s, believed the L.A. air would benefit his father’s heart condition.

With open lands and Japanese gardens nearby, the Los Angeles River Freeway began construction, later known as the 710 Freeway.  “I just noticed a lot of my friends’ homes being taken that I use to hang around with.  Well, all of a sudden we hear that the freeway is coming through.  You know and it’s here and then the homes are being taken for these bridges,” Robert told me at his home in 2005, which is adjacent to the 710 Freeway.

On his first day as a City of Commerce councilmember in 1972, Robert made sure public comments were heard, ending a previous rule requiring citizens 72-hour written notice before they would be heard, the city reports.  With this type of passion for community collectiveness, community service, and policy change, Eula utilized those skills to improve the health of Commerce residents through East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. 

One of the most extraordinary stories he shared comes from 2003 when Eula purchased a carbon monoxide monitor (CO).  Once it was turned on, the alarm rang and he called the gas company.  When the technician arrived, no CO leaks were found.  But when they stepped outside, they found the problem.  Commerce ambient air quality was so poor, it set off the alarm. 

Bob spent his adult life serving the community.  After retirement, he worked even harder.

Bob Eula is gone.  Long Live Robert Eula.  Long live East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

“Fighting for life” -Bob Eula

Remembering Bob Eula, co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and his fighting spirit:

We recently heard the news that Bob Eula passed away, on January 16, 2020. Our hearts are heavy as we remember Bob and the formative work he did as a co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. East Yard’s foundational work with Bob started about 20 years ago. Most of the early East Yard members grew up in the City of Commerce. This was true for Bob but many years before the rest of us, still we all had that connection to the neighborhood.  Bob was definitely a well-known person in the area due to his community leadership and political career.  In our small community, Bob was the mayor and presented many of us our preschool “diplomas.”  Around 2001, many of us really got to know Bob in an immense way. Just around that time Bob, Gilbert Estrada and a number of other community members started East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.  At that time, our community was under attack (and still is) from a barrage of diesel pollution from the rail yards, heavy duty trucks from the 710 freeway, and numerous other polluting sources like Exide and Refuse to Energy that caused illness and death for many of our family members and neighbors. At the time, the community was up against many forces and didn’t know whether to fight or run. It was Bob that said, “We got to bond together and fight for our community. We have no other choice.”  Later Bob would come up with East Yard’s tag line, Fighting for Life. The day he presented the idea to the group, he pulled out a piece of paper with the phrase that his grandson illustrated in Old English lettering. Bob explained we have been fighting, and we will continue to fight, for life – for the lives of our families and the lives of our community. Nothing will stop us. 

Bob taught us many other things, too. He codified the compassion and love rooted in endurance and resiliency; he taught us the power of collective leadership.   Bob was a bit older than most of us and he always stressed the importance of intergenerational organizing. This work that linked generations, combined with his ability to work with anyone that had the same goal of protecting our community, was transformative for us. Bob was a pretty conservative guy but throughout our time together he would work hand in hand with the most radical people, both old and young. He demonstrated through his actions the effectiveness and need to work across differences. This type of engagement provided opportunity for growth for both the organized and the organizer. Most know that Bob had his moments; he knew he wasn’t always right and he would say it is never to late to learn and do the right thing. He was open to learning. He wasn’t a pushover but he would be the first person to say he was wrong and willing to change his position if it was the just and right thing to do. Bob was a mentor, a leader and force that cannot be replaced.

Bob will be missed but the work he forged with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice will endure as we continue to Fight for Life

-Angelo Logan (EYCEJ Co-Founder)

Bob Eula speaking to a group on a toxic tour at his home in the ABC neighborhood of the City of Commerce. Bob’s home, like many of his neighbors, is up against the Union Pacific Railroad East Los Angeles Yard, also known as the East Yard.

The Truth Fairy Project and the Exide Fights to Come

Over the last 24 hours we have been getting a steady flow of calls, emails, texts and DMs from media outlets wanting to get a soundbite to put out regarding USC’s children tooth lead study. Responsible journalists inform themselves before reaching out. Others keep us on the line for close to an hour wanting a crash course on Exide, only to lightly touch on what has gone down, sometimes not mentioning where our current struggles are, and using our words without attributing quotes. With all of this, what has become clear is that there is a general lack of understanding of the issues we face with Exide and soundbites won’t provide the clarity needed. Here we will discuss the Truth Fairy Project, it’s implications for our communities, and where the efforts of our movement are focused.
For generations our communities struggled to get Exide shut down, and we succeeded. We struggled to get soil sampling in our communities, and we succeeded. We struggled to get our homes cleaned up, and we succeeded. At least that’s what the many press conferences, reports, videos, etc. over the years would lead us all to believe. The reality is all of these struggles, where of course we have had victories, are complicated and ongoing. We are far from achieving justice in our communities, and so our struggle continues.
As the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) went on to take credit for the Federal Government shutting down Exide, and as some politicians applauded themselves for securing cleanup funds they never fought for (and even discouraged us from seeking), we moved to lifting up new priorities on top of this. Sustained cleanup funding, which we won through Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s battery fee bill. Workforce development and local hire for cleanup work, which DTSC piloted and successfully developed. Understanding and addressing the social and health impacts of Exide’s poison, which is the hardest of the tasks and accordingly where we found the least support. We began to move the conversation through our Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative, with our members conducting research on Exide lead exposure and the social and health impacts in our communities. Also, Dr. Jill Johnston of USC’s Keck School of Medicine responded to our call.
Dr. Johnston came to us with the idea of collecting children’s teeth and studying them for lead exposure. She explained that teeth have rings, similar to trees, and there is a partner lab where they can shave the teeth ring by ring and study the level of exposure, as well as the point in life when exposure took place. As a community based movement we do not have the resources or expertise to engage in a project like this on our own, and this highlights the importance of our partnership with USC’s Keck School of Medicine. As an academic institution, they often haven’t built trust and credibility in the broader community, and sometimes don’t have the skillsets to engage our communities the same as community movements or organizations do, and this highlights the importance of their partnership with us.
One of our first contributions to this effort was generating the name “Truth Fairy.” Lets be honest, asking people to give us their kid’s teeth that have fallen out is weird. Starting from a concept that many are familiar and comfortable with, the Tooth Fairy, we flipped the name and connected it to our other community driven data collecting efforts, including Groundtruhting (which includes creating data sets through DIY land use documenting, which was at the foundation of our Green Zones work) and Trucktruthing (where we conducted truck counts, particulate matter sampling, documented truck idling, and got No Truck Idling signs put up). Instead of slipping some cash under your pillow, we made a commitment to come back with information that will contribute to the healing of our communities through our fight for resources to address the social and health impacts of Exide.
Below are the findings of this project:
To view report click here.
We weren’t surprised that the lab found lead in children’s teeth. We anticipated that one of the major findings would be that levels of lead exposure would rise if they lived at properties that had higher levels of lead in the soil. None of this softened the blow of having this confirmed. What was extremely disturbing, and something we didn’t anticipate, was the spike in lead exposure in the third trimester.
Through our struggles we have learned that our bodies can mistake lead for calcium and deposit it in our bodies where normally calcium would go. This is why we find lead in teeth. The revelation that lead exposure spiked in the third trimester reminded us of the saying we often hear from our grandmothers, “mis hijos me robaron el calcio” (my children stole my calcium). In the third trimester, the exchange of blood and minerals between the fetus and the birthing parent is at it’s highest, so lead exposure that the birthing parent has experienced is passed down to the fetus. Typically we associate lead exposure in children with crawling and walking as they start to move around, touch surfaces and put their hands in their mouth, but in this case we have found that we are being exposed to lead before birth. Even when the Exide site is completely cleaned up, even when every home is completely cleaned up, Exide lead exposure will continue to be a legacy issue in our communities. Luckily our movements, and our fight against Exide in particular, has been and will continue to be inter/multigenerational!
First off, we need to do more research and generate more data. The Truth Fairy Project has included a relatively small sample size. 43 participants in an area that has over 100,000 residents. Here, funding has been an issue, so we call on government agencies and philanthropy to step up so we continue to expose the deeper impacts of Exide. Additionally we need government agencies and philanthropy to step up in Exide impacted communities to support with those of us who are more vulnerable now because of lead exposure. We need to address the impacts on brain development in children, which often manifests in challenges with academic achievement. We look to early education and additional resources in the classroom for K-12. We need to address the impacts on impulse control, which often manifests in violence in lead impacted communities. We look to youth employment opportunities, workforce development, local hire policies, reentry programs for our family/community members coming out of the system and returning to our communities. We understand these issues are intertwined and lead our youth in the school to prison pipeline. We also ask for others who have more experience and expertise in disrupting these issue areas to help inform us on what needs and solutions we should focus on addressing.
As contractors move on cleaning up thousands of residential properties, we fear recontamination of properties that have been cleaned up, exposure inside the home during and after cleanup, incomplete cleanup, and any practice that compromises the health of our communities and waterways. We have begun training our members to be Residential Cleanup Observers so we can watch our blocks, document, and hold contractors and the state accountable.
We still don’t trust DTSC! Change in leadership at an institution like DTSC does not automatically mean a change in the organizational culture within the institution. Whether through malfeasance, incompetence, lack of capacity, or otherwise, DTSC has failed us time and time again and we have not seen a momentum change on the Exide issues. We still need a local cleanup agency that is transparent and accountable to our communities on the ground, not an institution that is looking to do the least possible, if anything at all, and move on. We will better address Exide issues with a local cleanup agency, and DTSC will be better off not having to handle Exide issues. Former Governor Jerry Brown resisted change at the institution. We look to Governor Gavin Newsom, who is not at fault with what has happened but is responsible for how this is handled moving forward, to communicate with our communities and work with us in ways Jerry Brown refused to.
When the California Department of Public Health released blood lead data for children that live within a 4.5 mile radius of Exide, it showed our children face higher rates of exposure compared to the rest of Los Angeles County. 99% of the homes that have been tested within the 1.7 mile radius require cleanup, meaning the edge of the contamination has not been found. These two facts point to the logical conclusion that the state must continue sampling beyond 1.7 miles to adequately profile the contamination. In fact, through our Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative, our members conducted soil sampling at homes beyond the 1.7 mile radius and found elevated levels of lead in Unincorporated East Los Angeles and the City of Bell. The state has often used the lack of resources, and wanting to prioritize cleaning up the homes with the highest levels of lead before anything else. This makes sense to a certain extent, but when there is money in the bank that hasn’t moved since Jerry Brown was last in office, this begins to feel disingenuous. Sampling and cleanup efforts can and should be happening at the same time.
There are currently two bills moving through the legislature concerning Exide cleanup funds. One is a one time $100 million allocation (AB 1462). The other is an increase to the existing battery fee that will bring in tens of millions of dollars more annually without a sunset (AB 142). We hope both pass and are signed. We hope the bills are not put in to competition with each other, but unfortunately we are familiar with the opportunism that thrives with the toxic political games in Sacramento. Before leaving office, Jerry Brown took back millions of battery fee dollars as a “repayment” for the money the state “loaned” itself for Exide cleanup. The legislature allowed it. This is disgusting, as the state should be pursuing Exide for repayment, not looting the battery fee, especially when we are nowhere close to even seeing the horizon of the cleanup needed in our communities. It’s even more disgusting as Jerry Brown left office with a budget surplus, showing that looting that battery fee was not necessary in any way, shape or form.
When Exide was still operating and we were knocking on doors to support community members in requesting their homes be sampled and cleaned, sometimes we would hear residents ask “Why should we get our homes cleaned up if Exide is just going to keep poisoning us with lead?” Our response was “We are fighting to shut down Exide to make sure that doesn’t happen!” We succeeded. Unfortunately, the contamination has blanketed our communities, meaning homes that have been cleaned up may have already been recontaminated from lead in the parkways (the grass area between the sidewalk and the street), roofs that the state has refused to clean, road dust, homes that were not cleaned responsibly and fugitive dust has been visible, and development/construction projects like the industrial freezer at Indiana and Union Pacific where large plumes of fugitive dust were seen flying over the first homes cleaned up in the Union Pacific neighborhood of East LA/Boyle Heights. As we push to expand the soil sampling area, we must double back and make sure we aren’t replicating a cleanup process that hasn’t worked. Other communities that have had to fight for lead cleanups like this have found themselves in the situation where homes need to be cleaned up multiple times.

When Exide was shut down in Vernon, the contents of the facility were immediately shipped to the Exide facility in Muncie, Indiana. We attempted to reach out to people out there at that time and didn’t get a response. More recently we were connected to community members on the ground that are starting to build a movement because they too have been poisoned by Exide. They have asked us to tell them our stories and share our strategies, and so we have shared and offered to head out there to visit, conduct an exchange, and support their movement building on the ground. We are in solidarity with the communities in Muncie, Indiana resisting Exide!
If you are from the Exide impacted communities, join us! If you aren’t from our communities but want to support, follow our lead. Email info@eycej.org, call 323.263.2113, DM us on social media Facebook.com/EYCEJ Twitter/IG: @EYCEJ, #NoMoPlomo #WeAreJustTryingToBreathe

Mothers in the Movement

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Every day our mothers sacrifice a little bit of themselves for us. This year we at EYCEJ want to celebrate our mothers that are in movement. Read some thoughts that these fierce leaders had to share:


Mary Duenas

  1.       Ver mirado a mis hijos crecer. Y mirar lo que they have turned out to be, parents, my daughter parent and student, mas que nada, Buenos hijos. Y lo mejor es los nietos que han salido de ahí.
  2.       Los logros que han salido. Cuando hemos ido a las juntas y yo junto con ustedes, parado, tabling, considering our decisión- un logro que ha salido y que tomado parte
  3.    Cuando mi hija iba a tener a su niño, very concerning for her staying here with the freeway so close. Grandson 3, diagnosticaron con autismo, my thoughts, its pollution, where I live, even the water, had something to do with autism. What’s hard about it is theres nothing to do when you don’t know what these companies are doing, and living in a small city and they don’t tell us- especially our council, they should know what’s there, and should be involved in community and let us know you know, sometimes we can’t do anything about it- like I don’t have the money to move out, but give us a heads up-warning, cigarettes have warnings.
  4.       To be more aware of what’s going on. Every little thing helps, even if its no throwing trash in drains. Un granito, ese granito de arena, si todo lo hicieramos, le diéramos mas vida a nuestro planeta.


Jackie Espinoza

  1. What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?

The most rewarding part of being a mother is spending quality time with my kids and walk side by them during their life journey.

  1. What is the most rewarding part of being an active community member with east yard?

The most rewarding part of being an active community member with East Yard is being able to participate and make a difference in the issues that concern our environment and our health


3.What is the most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns?

The most challenging and frustrating part of being a mother in a community with environmental concerns is knowing there are issues and not having other mothers get involved in the struggle but only until something unfortunate affects them


  1. Call to Action: What do you want people to do to protect mother earth and our communities?

To become more aware of the issues concerning mother earth and our communities by joining efforts and doing something about it not just complaining. Mobilize!


Lovely Floreza

What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?

The most rewarding part of being a mother is becoming a “MOTHER”, having children are blessings.  Being a mother or parent you are able to watch your children grow, learn, trust, self-worth, confidence, love and care for one or the other, family, friends and others unconditionally.  When your children learn the true meaning of “LIFE” and they understand, then you have made the goal of truly in how to be a parent.


What is the most rewarding part of being an active community member with East Yard?

The most rewarding part of being an active community member with East Yard is that you feel “Welcome & Valued”.  East Yard Community is a very active environmental community. Each and everyone in East Yard welcomes you and others as a community of one. Each member in East Yard is considered as family or “Ohana of the Environment”. The feedback’s of each member are as important and valued for each concerns and challenges in the community.


What is the most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns?

The most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns is the community and environment itself.  Not everyone knows and shares the same values of how to important our environment and communities are. Out of ten individuals, two out of ten sees themselves as making an effort to all concerns of the environment.  Educating, teaching and learning are our biggest challenge as mother with all of our environmental concerns.


What do you want people to do to protect mother earth and our communities?

What people can do to help protect mother earth and our communities is help follow the “3 R’s”, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Volunteering for cleanups in the community. Shop wisely such as buying less plastic and bring your own shopping bag. Plant a tree and plants (flowers & vegetables) to help provide more food and oxygen which will help save energy, clean the air and help combat climate change.


Flori Boj-Lopez

  1. What is the most rewarding part of being a mother? It’s rewarding to see your kids grow. I love it when my kids learn new skills or information. It feels great when my kids can understand social issues even though they are 5 and 7. But they know what justice is and they are beginning to learn why we don’t have it and why we need to fight for it.
  2. What is the most rewarding part of being an active community member with east yard? I think the most rewarding part is that the accomplishments of East Yard have communal and long term impacts. East Yard always makes me feel like I can channel my anger into useful and effective action that actually makes my community and the world better for all of us.
  3. What is the most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns? I think that the time I spend fighting for clean air is also time that my kids don’t get to play at a park, or get to be home with us. It forces us to do more work to protect our health from polluters– and the agencies that won’t hold polluters accountable.
  4. Call to Action: What do you want people to do to protect mother earth and our communities? I want them to get involved. I want them to come out to meetings, to make space for frontline and Indigenous communities, I want them to invest their own time and energy to learn about the issues. I want them to do the work alongside us.

Lupe Valdovinos

  1. The most rewarding part about being a mother is being able to foster the growth of such an amazing child. To see her free spirit blossom into the person that she will become is witnessing a pure kind heart that will live to share those same values she naturally possess. She is courageous and resilient, my Dahlia is my sunshine and I hope I don’t fail her. And her smile is all that matters.


  1. Being an active community member with East Yard has been a journey that has elevated me to discover my passion. That passion is to care and fight for an equitable environment for all. Fighting smart and losing fear and just going for what is deserving of our communities is something East Yards has taught me. I have found a home with the community members that have the same values about our surroundings, our well being and our families. The most rewarding part is constantly learning to be a better person. East Yards is a village that helps maintain the well being of every individual they encounter who shares the same values, values such as to respect our lands, all people and to support each other. (kinda sounds like a gang but we non-profit lol)


  1. The challenges I face as a mother fighting for environmental rights is having family support. As a Latina woman trying to convince family that what I’m doing matters and them not believing in you or the fight shakes up your insights, an internal emotional mental toll tries to bring you further down. They don’t believe your role, they understand the cause but do not believe that you can do anything to change the powers that be. This is the hardest part so a detachment overcomes our home, I try to ignore it as much as I can. But that is not resolving anything emotionally, yet I will continue to participate because, not only do I care for my immediate family’s well being from environmental hazards, but I will stand for all families/human beings/animals/ mother nature etc. and do my part however big or small my role is. But as they say “there are no small parts only small actors”.


  1. My call to action to protect mother earth and our communities is for people to voice their concerns. To get involved and generate support with numbers. Their presence is important to change the status quo and I want to motivate my communities to partake in this movement. We need people in our communities to learn and know their rights. I want them to actively be involved. We need to rise up and demonstrate that enough is enough!



Brenda Citlalicue Rivera Baeza



What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?

Hmmmm there are so many humbling experiences but hands down ALL the love!

And that my children inherited my contagious laughter!!!

What is the most rewarding part of being an active community member with east yard?

The fact that we are just that “active”! We get to see the impact of our work on different levels!

What is the most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns?

Making sure we are asking the right questions and holding ourselves accountable for the choices we make for our semillitas. I’m always thinking about whether or not my decisions are in my semillas best interest.

Call to Action: What do you want people to do to protect mother earth and our communities?

I frequently ask people to consider what legacy they will leave, especially the youth. What kind of ancestors will we be for the next generations? Be wise in what we use on the daily baby steps matter! It’s also important to stop think how we can remedy the harm we’ve done in our daily lives.

Maria Becerra

Being a mother has so many rewarding parts that I don’t have only a specific favorite, one that comes to mind right now is at night when they fall asleep I like to watch them sleep. They sleep like little angels and I forget how bad my day was. During this time I get all my energy for the next and next day.


East Yard is so much fun that you want to be involved, East Yard is a kid-friendly organization and I love how they are accepting of my creatures.


The most challenging part of being a mother in a community with environmental concerns is very alarming. It makes me angry that my babies are exposed to all the pollution just because I can’t’ afford to live in a cleaner community.

People should be more involved and demand regulations for all these corporations that are getting our babies sick.


Maria Valenzuela

What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?

When you look back and see kids are going the right track and their healthy. When you see them push something that they want, because they’re accomplishment is my accomplishment.


What is the most rewarding part of being an active community member with east yard?

Learning. The learning that I have accomplished through being in the meetings cuz i know a lot and knowing about my community is rewarding, and I also got to know people and the passion you have towards community.


What is the most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns?

Time. time conflicts with a lot of things you want to do. Doing things and being a mother and also a working mother, the conflict of time.


Call to Action: What do you want people to do to protect mother earth and our communities?

One thing I would like to see for people not just wasting providing things that they probably don’t even need, like recycling, I’ve always done it, but I’ve learned a lot. People should treasure what they have, there are many countries that don’t have water or food.


Rosalva Sotelo

What is the most rewarding part of being a mother? Ver a tus hijos felices, crecer, que están sanos, que no tienen vicios, que son buenos muchachos, y en todos lados te los ven bien-sobre todo felices y sanos.


What is the most rewarding part of being an active community member with east yard? Ver que a todos nos tratan igual, hay igualdad en todo, siempre eres bienvenido con una sonrisa.


What is the most challenging part about being a mother in communities with environmental concerns? Que te preocupas por que están expuestos a la contaminación, sobre  todo las preocupaciones y miedo de que ellos estén enfermos por tanta contaminacion. También el sentirte marginado, miedo a que a tus hijos los van a marginar u olvidar y nuestros hijos crean que siempre va a ser haci, y conformarse con eso.


Call to Action: What do you want people to do to protect mother earth and our communities?  Pues que nos unamos para luchar por el medio ambiente, sembrar árboles, juntarnos a recoger basura, limpiar nuestros ríos, nuestra comunidad.



Share the love…

On this Valentine’s Day, take a moment to share some love (aka call out polluters in our communities and their enablers)!

Shout to Kim Wasserman-Nieto with our partners the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO.org) in Chicago for inspiring these.

CEMEX & Bell vs. The People

The Vote – City of Bell Approves Settlement with CEMEX
Councilmember Alicia Romero – Motion to approve settlement with CEMEX
Councilmember Ali Saleh – 2nd motion to approve settlement with CEMEX
Mayor Fidencio Gallardo – Voted to approve settlement with CEMEX
Vice Mayor Ana Maria Quintana – Voted against settlement with CEMEX
Councilmember Nestor Valencia – Voted against settlement with CEMEX
The Bell & CEMEX Settlement:
We heard testimony that CEMEX can make up to $70 million a year at the site, so when the City of Bell settles for $400k a year, we know they will not prioritize utilizing these funds to mitigate the impacts on our health from this project. This is nowhere near enough money to protect our health from the impacts at the CEMEX site. This feels like a payoff, selling out our communities because the City of Bell is fiscally vulnerable after years of city mismanagement and malfeasance.
As the City of Bell settles, we prepare to continue the fight in the courtroom. Keep an eye out for updates on our lawsuit against the City of Bell and CEMEX.
The Real Disappointment of the Night:
Unfortunately, at this point many of us expect elected officials to want to do wrong by us, so we fight. At this point we expect companies to target our communities as a dumping ground, so we fight. At this point we expect government agencies who are supposed to protect us to fail, so we fight.
What is heartbreaking is when we witness residents come out to a public meeting to say they don’t care that we are being contaminated, say we should be used to it, say we should accept more pollution since our communities are already filled with it, say they don’t care about the surrounding communities of Bell Gardens, Maywood, Commerce and East LA that will be impacted as long as Bell gets some money, all seemingly to support their preferred political friend or family member. We received communications that residents were being intentionally misinformed and told lies about East Yard and our motivations by Bell Councilmembers. Unfortunately, at this point many of us expect elected officials to mislead members of our communities for their own political gain and to provide cover when they are harming our communities, SO WE FIGHT!!!
We build power in our communities because we recognize the best leader is someone who will follow the lead of our communities. Someone who will prioritize our health and well being.