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

Planting Seeds of Change


Ending 2013 on a strong note, East Yard hosted its annual year-end brunch at Tamayo Restaurant in East Los Angeles on December 14, 2013. Planting Seeds of Change is an opportunity to celebrate our victories and recognize members and allies for their continuous support. This year we had the honor of awarding the Emerging Leader Award to Maria Tafoya, the Margarita Holguin Award to Evelyn Knight, and the Ally Award to the Liberty Hill Foundation.

Emerging Leader Award Recipient: Maria Tafoya

The Emerging Leader Award goes to someone who is passionate and dedicated to environmental justice issues in their community. This is someone who takes initiative and has the ability to activate other community members.

With a baby granddaughter by her side, Maria Tafoya has inspired us by being a fierce advocate in the I-710/Community Alternative 7 campaign. In 2013, she participated in the SB 811 Press Conference and traveled to advocate for SB 811 in Sacramento. She also organized support for the Green Zones campaign in Commerce.

“When my grandchildren look back to these years, I want to be able to tell them that I did something about this pollution.” – Maria Tafoya

Margarita Holguin Award Recipient: Evelyn Knight

This award was named in honor of Margarita Holguin, an EYCEJ member who passed away due to cancer. She raised her family in Commerce and was one of the first people to support EYCEJ by become a member. Even thought she became ill, Margarita continued to speak on behalf of her community at local, regional, and state public hearings and meetings.

This year’s recipient, Evelyn Knight, has been committed to her community of Long Beach for many years. She has been a strong leader in the NO SCIG campaign. In 2013, Evelyn participated in various meetings regarding the SCIG and also participated in the SCIG Hunger Strike.

Ally Award Recipient: Liberty Hill Foundation

This award goes to an ally who goes above and beyond to support, collaborate, or partner with EYCEJ, in fighting for environmental justice.

Liberty Hill’s relationship with EYCEJ has grown and strengthened over the span of 11 years. In collaboration with Liberty Hill, EYCEJ has been able to continue base building, movement building, and affecting policy change. Thanks to Liberty Hill, our Steering Committee was able to participate in the Wally Marks Institute, which has given our Steering Committee the necessary tools to become EYCEJ’s official Board of Directors.


Youth in Action Members Ready for 2014!

YouthinActionpicEYCEJ’s Youth in Action (YA!) is preparing for the approaching I- 710 Corridor Project Committee Meeting, which will discuss the 18-mile I-710 Corridor project between the Ports of Long Beach & Los Angeles and the Pomona Freeway (SR-60). Youth members will attend the meeting to show their support for the Community Alternative 7 (CA7), a holistic corridor improvement project that focuses on community needs as well as projected truck traffic.

The CA7 includes a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle element, which will prioritize pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs, especially when trucks pass through community streets. Because bikes are the primary mode of transportation for our youth members, Youth in Action members will participate in a ROAR (Ride on All Roads) ride to the City of Paramount where the I-710 Project Committee meeting will be held.

Youth members are also looking forward to the growth of their group in 2014, and gaining additional support for the Community Alternative 7 through outreach and education.

To learn more about the CA7, visit our campaign page.

The Commerce City Council Passes a Green Zones Policy!

Green Zones Yard Sign

ON TUEDAY NIGHT, the Commerce City Council reviewed recommendations for a Green Zones policy. EYCEJ presented recommendations based on a four-pillar system of prevention, reduction, revitalization and reinvestment. The purpose of the policy is to create healthy communities and job opportunities in Commerce.

While the city-sponsored Green Zones Policy Working Group recommended only three of the four pillars, EYCEJ recommended that the City Council secure the prevention pillar in order to stop toxic exposure by amending the zoning law to restrict new toxic land-uses close to homes, schools, churches and senior centers.

Toña Lupercio, a Commerce resident and EYCEJ member, testified in favor of Green Zones and presented the City Council with hundreds of signatures from community residents in support of EYCEJ’s recommendations for the Green Zones policy. She also spoke about the overwhelming community support for this policy. “This policy is critical and we need your leadership,” she told the Council.

After a long deliberation, the council members voted unanimously on the three pillars of the Green Zones Policy as recommended by the Green Zones Policy Working Group. They also decided to have study sessions on the zoning ordinance that would help to prevent new hazards.

Thank to the work of residents, the City of Commerce now has a Green Zones policy! This is one of the first Green Zones policies in the nation and our members and allies will be celebrating this historic victory.

SB 811 Update

We Support SB811

Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed SB 811, the bill authored by Senator Ricardo Lara that would have required CalTrans to examine Community Alternative 7 (CA7) in its entirety as part of the 710 Corridor Project.

Regrettable, Brown’s rationale for vetoing the bill was misinformed. If he had taken the time to discuss the details with us, it would have been clear to him why this bill makes sense and why it is so important. Although Governor Brown understands the urgency of this project, CalTrans continues to reject local demands. This Caltrans-created opposition could prolong the 710 Corridor Project for another decade, if not longer.

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice is committed to the goal of SB 811 and will try to reach the same goal through the EIR project process. We will continue to work on ensuring that CA7 is a viable option for the 710 Corridor Project. Residents, organizations, and local officials from the 18 cities of the 710 Corridor support CA7 because it meets the needs of residents while addressing projected truck traffic along the corridor. The 710 Corridor Project is a $6 billion dollar project, let’s make it the best project possible.

Press Telegram: http://www.presstelegram.com/environment-and-nature/20131011/710-freeway-governor-vetoes-bill-favored-by-environmental-activists

Governor’s Veto Message: http://gov.ca.gov/docs/SB_811_2013_Veto_Message.pdf

The Guide to Green: A win-win approach for Environmental Quality & Economic Vitality in Commerce

Written by Brinton Williams, Edited by Cassie Gardener


Through a unique collaboration, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, the Commerce Industrial Council, the City of Commerce and the Liberty Hill Foundation recently convened for the first of many workshops to help Commerce businesses save money by going green. The “Guide to Green Business Benefits Workshop,” held at the Rosewood Park Community Center on Thursday May 30th, 2013, marked an important first step in the organizers’ goals to reduce the impact of industrial pollution on community health, and revitalize businesses with green economic development opportunities.

The 90-minute program featured six different agencies at the Federal, State, Regional, and Local government level, who provided beneficial information on many of the different financial and technical assistance programs available to businesses in the City of Commerce that are looking to improve their business and operate more safely. This information is compiled in the new City of Commerce Guide to Green, co-published by Liberty Hill and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, which was handed out and reviewed at the event and can be found online here.

The new City of Commerce Guide to Green is effective in helping businesses both save money and improve the environment around them. City Council member, Ivan Altamirano put it best when he said, “the Guide to Green has the potential of increasing cash-flow for property owners and the contractors they employ, providing rich tax incentives to businesses and enhancing the environmental quality of our community.”[i] This business-friendly approach to tackling the environmental health and justice challenges facing the City of Commerce promises to be a model for other cities nationwide to follow. It allows for the City to offer business incentives that can help small- and medium-sized businesses “revitalize their operations”[ii] and “transition from outmoded and inefficient equipment and production methods to more sustainable and non-polluting business operations.”[iii]

As part of East Yard Communities’ Green Zone Policy Campaign, the Guide to Green directory and corresponding workshop illustrate how a voluntary business retrofit and Green Banner Program could ensure the protection of both business interests and the health of community members, as the city becomes more environmentally friendly and sustainable. As the guide itself says, “this transition to “green” can support small- and medium-size businesses as they revitalize their operations and move towards a sustainable future.”[iv] This sustainable future is what will “ensure economic vitality and protect public health”[v] for all City of Commerce citizens and businesses, for years to come.

[i] http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/6/prweb10790629.htm

[ii] www.libertyhill.org/Commerce_Guide2Green

[iii] www.libertyhill.org/Commerce_Guide2Green

[iv] http://www.libertyhill.org/document.doc?id=316

[v] East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice Green Zone Policy Campaign