Commerce Council to Explore Local ‘Green Zones’

Topic on Tuesday's City Council agenda.

By EGP Staff Report

City of Commerce officials will tomorrow consider a proposal to explore ways to maintain the city’s focus on industry while protecting the health of residents.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, staff will present details of a plan to form a group, comprised of members of the public, local commissioners, government officials, the business community and researchers, to look at the viability of establishing buffer zones around “sensitive” areas like schools and homes, while also exploring the creation of a green economy development strategy.

The proposal also calls for a series of public workshops on the topic.

Similar efforts to create  “green zones” were initiated in the City of Los Angeles, in the Boyle Heights and Pacoima neighborhoods earlier this year. If approved, the Commerce workshops could begin in the fall.

Commerce-based environmental justice group East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) backed the panel and the workshops, saying in a press release that a green zone policy “would discourage toxic industry away from residential areas of Commerce, and encourage green industries to add vitality to the city by creating healthy communities and good jobs.”

Members of EYCEJ also sit on the city’s Environmental Justice Task Force, together with residents, city officials, and members of the business community.

The city staff report prepared for the meeting states that land use recommendations like this require “careful analysis by staff” and that “ultimately, land use strategies must seek to strike the right balance between environmental quality/conservation and property rights without discouraging land recycling and reinvestment in property which is so vital to the Commerce economy.”

Last year the Environmental Justice Task Force voted to recommend buffer zones to prevent environmentally harmful industries from locating near children or families.

The buffer zone proposal was based on collaborations with research institutions like the University of Southern California, and on recommendations in the California Air Resources Board’s Air Quality and Land Use Handbook.

Since the effort to create buffer zones around residential areas, there have been discussions between city staff and the task force to incorporate a green economy development strategy into the effort

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June 20, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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