Baldwin Hills/Inglewood Oilfield–an environmental nightmare, our community
Beverly Hills Oilfield–an environmental dream
Balwin Hills/Inglewod Oil Field – wretchedly exposed
Los Angeles (Pico near Robertson) Oil-rig–tastefully enclosed
Traditionally, there have been one set of rules for the affluent (the rich and the powerful) and another set of rules for other communities–especially the African-American community.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
When residents of the Baldwin Hills/Ladera community travel through one of the main intersections of their community (circa La Cienega and Stocker), the area looks–and sometimes sounds–more like a battlefield than a residential thoroughfare. The area–loosely referred to as Baldwin Hills/Inglewood Oilfield–has become an environmental nightmare and a health hazard to the nearby residents–and some of the city’s most prominent Blacks live nearby. Could that be one of the reasons?
According the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, Zoning Enforcement Section: ‘While there are many causes of neighborhood deterioration, one important and preventable factor is the intrusion of illegal and objectionable uses. Vigorous zoning enforcement efforts can do much to prevent or arrest the spread of such uses and is an effective tool for neighborhood maintenance and enhancement.’
Over the years, much has been written (rules and regulations); policies and laws have been enacted including environmental studies showing the negative impact on the nearby residents; neighborhood advisory panels hold meetings and protests, complain and report but their pleas fall on deaf ears.
According to a part of one L. A. County report: ‘The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District (CSD) which established new development standards and operating procedures for oil and gas production operations in the area. Eighteen community meetings were held to educate the community and receive input during the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and CSD Adoption process.’
The nearby community appears to have been “educated” about the health and environmental hazards, but not protected from the sight, sound or effects of it.
The Sentinel has learned that the owner/operator of the oil-well is Plain Exploration and Production (PXP), a Houston-based, independent oil and natural gas company primarily engaged in the activities of acquiring, developing, exploring and producing oil and natural gas; it has operations in California, Texas and Louisiana. Calls to PXP management failed to generate any response.
However, oil-wells/rigs in other neighborhoods and neighboring cities show a totally different environmental and aesthetic picture. As a matter of fact, there are oil-rigs that are located in the middle of residential and business communities nearby and “if you don’t know it’s there, you won’t know it’s there.” In some areas, they are completely surrounded by walls, neatly-trimmed greenery and the actual ‘rig’ is fully enclosed and well camouflaged that looking at it from the outside–the part that is showing above the top of the wall–no part of the oil rig can be seen.
In one area, passers-by were asked if they knew that an oil rig was behind the wall, most of them did not know.
The Sentinel spoke with some of the prominent residents who live in the Baldwin Hills/Ladera community and are affected by the Baldwin Hills/Inglewood Oilfield and these are some of their comments;
Dr. Mervyn Dymally (former Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Congressman): “As a resident of the area, it is a distasteful sight and it should be disbanded because it creates multiple hazards to the resident of the nearby community”
Joseph T. Rouzan, Jr. (former Chief of Police in Inglewood and Compton): “We are very displease with it. It makes it very difficult to get around in the area. Nobody is happy with it and the people in my neighborhood are very upset with it and would like to see something done (to rectify it) because we are not getting any action.”
Attorney Rickey Ivie (managing partner of Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt): “There needs to be a program of beautification. The (entire) area starting with Kenneth Hahn Park is a very beautiful park but it’s limited. They cannot expand it; the area has potential, those hills, I think is an environmentally historic area and there are beautiful homes. But it’s a tragedy that the area below, the plateau (where the oil rigs are) has not improved, and it should be. I definitely think that this is a tremendous oversight and short sight, and perhaps it is a question of environmental justice.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. (executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel): “We can’t let this continue in our community. The oil company is turning the Baldwin Hills/Ladera Heights community into a blighted desert area. That area has some beautiful homes and some prominent home owners in our community, and we cannot allow this to diminish the value of our homes when it’s not done in other communities.”
Leonard Murray (educator and sports coach): “The increasing drilling of (oil) wells has decimated the total landscape of the area next to the park.
They should bring in some more trees which will offset all of the new construction and the expansion of the drilling because they have expanded the production in that area. For the past five years, they have increased production in that area tremendously. They are only doing production, no beautification. They claim to have done some but none of that does anything to promote the healthy use of the nearby (Kenneth Hahn) park. It’s a great nuisance especially for the people who live up on the hill, but for me it a nuisance for driving into the neighborhood.”
Yoshiko Plair (Bakewell/Bunkley Co.): “Near Beverly Hills High School, they’ve built a tower and it very brightly and painted. And in our area, sometimes they let them drill at night and you can hear it all night. They have no consideration for the community, and at one time they told us that it was going to be a park, and they were not going to drill anymore. That was about three or four years ago. They don’t try to beautify it; it’s wide open and looking bad. It’s part of the environmental racism because they won’t do any other community like that.”
Margaret Bowers (member of the board of the directors of the Ladera Heights Civic Association): “As a long time resident of the area and a concerned citizen, I think they are not being good corporate neighbors first of all and in my personal opinion, they have a blatant disregard for the people who live in the community surrounding the oilfields. There have been the CSD standards that were put in place by the Los Angeles County former supervisor who was instrumental in getting those regulations in place. But we, the members of the community feel that those regulations are not stringent enough; they do not provide for the optimum protection for the people in the community.”
PXP’s website has posted a link for complaints about its operations. This article will be forwarded to the company’s headquarters by e-mail and regular mail.