The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Governing Board voted Friday to add South Los Angeles to a list of areas considered disproportionately affected by pollution and in need of assistance.
The board also directed the district’s staff to pursue additional funding to help support emission-reduction efforts in the area.
The list is mandated by Assembly Bill 617, signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, which requires the California Air Resources Board to reduce emissions in communities that have been affected by more than their fair share of poor air quality.
“When I first came to Los Angeles, I called South L.A. home. This community has been living with environmental and pollution inequities for decades,” said William Burke, the governing board’s chair.
“I am thrilled that they will be a part of this revolutionary program to improve air quality in their neighborhoods. We are committed to fighting for more funding and action so that we can bring real change to the deserving residents.”
South Los Angeles is a densely populated urban community located south and southwest of downtown Los Angeles, with multiple sources of pollution such as traffic along the Santa Monica (10) and Harbor (110) freeways as well as industrial facilities and oil-drilling sites, South Coast AQMD stated.
South Los Angeles was recommended by the vast majority of community nominations that were received, AQMD officials said. Of the 130 nominations, more than 120 were for the South Los Angeles community.
“I applaud the efforts of the community for their contribution to making this happen,” Los Angeles Councilman and board member Joe Buscaino said.
“As a representative of South L.A., I am aware of the historical injustice, air pollution and health disparities this community has faced. There is so much work to be done, but we are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make cleaner air a reality.”
As part of the AB 617 program, South Coast AQMD said it collaborates with environmental justice organizations to develop air monitoring and emission-reduction plans designed for each community’s air quality concerns.
Communities can be selected on an annual basis to form a Community Steering Committee that includes people who live, work or own businesses in the area.
South Coast AQMD officials said Southern California has seen dramatic improvements in air quality over the last 25 years, but more needs to be done to improve air quality, especially in disadvantaged communities close to freeways, ports, railyards, warehouses and industrial facilities, where disparities still exist.