By Alfredo Santana
LOS ANGELES — The Community Leadership Committee looking into improving air quality and transportation of people and cargo along the south corridor of the Long Beach (710) Freeway squandered its first attempt to draft a visions and goals statement for a series of projects.
The proposed visions and goals statement failed to muster support due to allegations that the draft contained buzzwords and jargon not many residents in the afflicted communities would understand.
Eleven of 18 committee members at the meeting opposed the proposed statement.
The draft is key for the committee because it would serve as the pattern to blueprint infrastructural changes to mitigate festering carbon emissions, noise and ease movement of people, vehicles and trucks along the freeway from Long Beach to the Pomona (60) Freeway interchange in East Los Angeles.
Once adopted, the initial visions and goals statement would be recommended to the I-710 task force for its eventual approval, pending further edits.
The shelved statement said the freeway corridor should be a shared use transportation system from the community and residents which fosters clean air, health and sustainable communities, economic empowerment and provides safe quality mobility options for all residents and users.”
Committee members disagreed about the use and meaning of multimodal, and whether the English draft version should be tied to a Spanish translation that may not be the same.
However, the committee agreed that air quality, zero carbon emissions and less noise pollution should be part of a statement to be further discussed at the next meeting May 19.
Committee member Maria Reyes said in Spanish that she preferred language easy to grasp for residents at street level.
“We want language easier to understand, not so strictly technical,” Reyes said. “Many of us already struggle to attend these meetings and we want everyone to understand it.”
Her colleague Marlene Sanchez echoed that thought and said the failed statement needed paraphrasing suited for all.
“The intended draft was sophisticated and it needs to be written with words everyone can understand,” she said.
Committee member and East Los Angeles resident Guadalupe Arellano asked participants to keep perspective of potential beneficiaries of transportation improvements, and whom the community leadership committee works for.
“I live along the freeway, and if I stop talking, you would hear the noise from the freeway,” Arellano said. “A resident said this is to rectify past actions. I’d say what actions? We need to specify the actions. I’m looking at what the language is saying.”
Arellano said the initial statement was doomed to fail because it would be difficult to find a literal translation to other languages, due to word mismatches or lack of similar concepts.
Amber Hawkes encouraged committee members to avoid references to details that should be addressed when projects are sketched.
Nonetheless, San Pedro-Wilmington area member Tiesha Davis said she voted against the statement’s current word choice and wants a friendlier message in place.
“Making the words more friendly so that the statement is more understandable for the community, and then [maintain] the question of who are we doing this for,” Davis said.
KeAndra Cylear Dodds, executive officer of equity and race for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the committee, suggested that economic resilience, or the ability to adapt and recover from setbacks or inherent discrimination on lack of opportunities to get good jobs, should make the statement.
“The idea of element disparities and bringing [solutions] to the communities comes from the communities. Key is how do we do these projects and their outcome,” Dodds added.
Committee member Clara Solis chimed in to support a caller’s petition for more transparency on the selection criteria and vetting used to pick the current 24 members, and reminded participants that the corridor’s noise pollution should be addressed in a fresh statement.
“I think we should encourage employers to limit work trips,” Solis said. “Noise is a big problem and we should refocus our attention.
Hawkes said that rejected applicants to the committee received notices with explanations, and pledged to reach out to those with further questions about the process.
She announced that the committee is scheduled to meet once a month at least 12 more times, and said it would add meetings depending on the type of projects and the speed with which they are submitted to the task force for review and approval.
The community leadership committee is currently composed of 24 residents from communities directly exposed to the freeway’s daily traffic and pollution, and from people whose properties and workplaces neighbor the freeway’s south corridor entrance, exit ramps industrial warehouses and maintenance yards of trucks and containers.
Five seats have not been filled, and one position is waiting approval from the task force.