ECHS Recognized as Leader in Public Education on Air Quality

Top row left to right: Deputy Director of Development Services Matt Marquez, City Administrator Jorge Rifá, Cofounder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and Green Zones Working Chairperson Angelo Logan, South Coast Air Quality Management District Board Member Dr. Joseph K. Lyou.
Bottom row left to right: Green Zone Working Group Labor Appointee Jason Gardea-Stinnet, Green Zones Working Group Facilitator Esmerelda Garcia, Councilwoman Denise Robles and Commerce Industrial Council Executive Director Eddie Tafoya.
(EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)


October 9, 2014
By EGP Staff Report

A City of Commerce initiative to encourage economic vitality without risking public health and damaging air quality was recognized by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) at the agency’s 26th Annual Clean Air Awards on Oct. 3.

The awards honor individuals and businesses, public agencies and others who have made significant contributions to cleaner air in the Southland.
The City of Commerce received one of three SCAQMD awards for “Promotion of Good Environmental Stewardship.” The other two awards went to Bike San Gabriel Valley, which works to raise awareness of the benefits of cycling, and South Bay-based Tree Musketeers, an elementary and high school program that uses tree-care projects to “empower” local at-risk youth to work toward a greener, cleaner future.

While many cities see limiting certain industries as the way to control possible negative impacts to the environment, Commerce’s “Green Zones Policy” adopted in November of last year looks for “innovative solutions to address local air quality concerns while encouraging the creation of safe and healthy jobs,” according to an SQAMD statement.

Located along two of the heaviest truck-traveled freeways — 1-5 Santa Ana and 1-710 Long Beach — and adjacent to one of busiest railyards in the region, Commerce is home to 1,800 industrial, retail and warehouse businesses and nearly 13,000 residents.

Traffic from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Breach has contributed to the area’s significant air quality issues, but some cities fear losing businesses if they implement too stringent policies to control environmental impacts, Commerce has sought to include local businesses in the development of strategies to improve air quality and other quality of life issues.

The city created a working group that “included a wide range of representatives from small and large businesses, an environmental justice advisory task force, the Commerce Industrial Council Chamber of Commerce, academia and residents,” which spent 14 months developing the city’s Green Zones Policy. The policy stresses economic growth without “increasing the concentration of environmentally adverse land uses.”

The agency also presented awards for Leadership in Government (U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman); the Robert M. Zweig, M.D., Memorial Award (Michael J. Lipsett, M.D., J.D., Chief, California Department of Public Health); Public Education on Air Quality Issues (Environmental Charter High School); Advancement of Air Pollution Technology (Complete Coach Works); Model Community Achievement (Coachella Valley iHub, Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) and San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Financing Program) and Advancement in Innovative Transportation Projects (Southern California Safe Routes to School Regional Network).

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