Beautiful, Well-Invested Communities

Creating liveable communities we are all proud of

Our infrastructure is undeniably deficient.

Our schools and other vital buildings are breaking down, our roads and sidewalks need major renovations, and our aging water pipes have cost families their health and their money.  AD65 needs beautiful spaces, safe structures, and healthy communities – not more liquor stores and broken promises. 

Infrastructure is more than just building plans. It’s about how we live, how our homes, schools, and workplaces are used, and how our roads and sidewalks are maintained. It’s about the types of spaces we share our district with, and how we are able to use them. 

Our families want to enjoy the basic human right of sustainable, functional infrastructure. We want green spaces to take our kids and help us breathe fresh air. We want our parks to be fully invested in. We want our street lights working. We want an end to toxic pollution, and we need public roads and transit that truly works. We don’t need endless delays or excuses – Fatima believes that addressing this crisis is an emergency priority for our district. 

Our community has been severely impacted by the effects of poor infrastructure, aging pipes, broken roads and sidewalks and lack of green spaces. Our health and life expectancies have suffered for long enough. Why is it that liquor stores and refineries can pop up all the time, but we can’t find some green space for our kids or get our roads fixed? It doesn’t have to be this way, and Fatima will advocate for immediate infrastructure fixes and new collaborations to get our community’s infrastructure in shape. 

 

The issues in district 65

Lack of Greenspace

According to the Los Angeles Countywide Parks Needs Assessment, communities in South LA county have a severe lack of access to green spaces and open spaces, such as parks, versus their neighbors in affluent areas of the county.

Why are green spaces important? They give parents a place to take their kids, they’re enjoyed by residents, they foster community connections, and they’re very beneficial for our health. 

“Furthermore, DPH’s report, Parks and Public Health in Los Angeles County, found an association between park space and selected health outcomes. Findings included higher average rates of premature mortality from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, higher prevalence of childhood obesity, and greater economic hardship in cities and communities with less park space per capita. The report also found that African Americans and Latinos were more likely than Asians and Whites to live in cities and communities with less park space per capita. These findings underscore current socioeconomic and racial inequities in park space, and the need to prioritize resources to create safer parks in high need areas to maximize health and emotional benefits.”

The report goes on to say:

“Parks and open spaces significantly impact the lives of residents on a daily basis by providing valuable spaces for active and passive recreation, social engagement, and community connectivity. The availability of parks and open space have documented public health benefits, including opportunities for increased physical activity, reduced obesity, improved air quality, and better mental health. Additionally, park spaces also have long-term environmental benefits, such as improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water consumption, improving water quality through less run-off, and increasing habitat in the urban landscape.” 

The Prevention Institute issued a joint public health report to further discuss exactly what lack of park infrastructure means for our communities. “South LA residents face increased risk for health problems compared to other areas in LA County due to present-day social, economic, and environmental conditions. The built environment is characterized by an overconcentration of liquor stores and hazardous land uses that emit toxic pollutants as well as the lack of quality, affordable housing. The absence of grocery stores and sit-down restaurants serving fresh food contribute to high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and premature death among South LA residents. As a consequence of living in one of the most park-poor areas of LA County, South LA residents have been denied opportunities for physical activity, respite, exposure to nature, and the other health benefits associated with parks and green space.” 

“Findings from this research show that increasing park acreage in areas of LA County that face park deficits and low levels of tree canopy has the potential to considerably increase life expectancy in those areas. This is especially important in communities like South LA, where the median life expectancy is 77 years, well below the upper bound for the county as a whole. About 15 miles away in the community of Beverly Hills, the life expectancy is about 90 years—13 years higher. The extreme lack of parks and green space in South LA contributes to poor health and shortens the lives of residents who have unfairly shouldered this burden over time and been denied access to the health and environmental benefits they provide.


AD65’s residents have lower life expectancies and disproportionately high rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and pre-term birth defects that are directly linked to toxic pollution from oil & gas drilling sites in our air and water. Our air and water aren’t clean. If we don’t have green spaces to offset this, our community suffers even more. It’s crucial that parks are part of our infrastructure plan.

Aging Roads, Sidewalks and Bridges

Fatima has spoken to families and constituents from across the district and they have all pointed out the failing roads, bridges, and pipes that plague our district. The Infrastructure Report Card for California in 2019 identified that, despite renewed local, regional, and state attention to the issue of infrastructure, our public spaces and structures are still riddled with problems. 

 

  • “Much of the drainage infrastructure in California was constructed prior to the 1940s and needs repair or replacement. Further, the new and innovative drainage systems necessary to meet water quality standards and promote a sustainable environment are significantly underfunded. For example, over the next 20 years in Los Angeles County the cost of achieving water quality objectives is estimated at about $20 billion.” 

 

This isn’t a new issue, either. Back in 2017, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association issued a report analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It zeroed in on the abysmal state of infrastructure in Los Angeles – especially on bridges that are located in or used by residents of AD65.

 

“The ARTBA report found that Southern California tops the list of the nation’s most-traveled structurally deficient bridges. Los Angeles County is home to seven of the ten most-traveled structurally deficient bridges in the country. No. 1 on the list is the Interstate 110 bridge over Los Angeles County’s Dominguez Channel, which vehicles cross 274,000 times a day. The remaining six are along the 110 and 101 freeways in Los Angeles County.”

 

Recent years have not improved the quality of our roads and bridges. Because the issue is so systemic, repairing one bridge isn’t enough to stop the collapses of others – our infrastructure needs a genuine overhaul. ARBTA’s 2022 report found that some of our area’s structurally deficient freeway bridges are also the most frequently-traveled in the state, such as Interstate 710’s river crossing in South Gate. 

 

The City of Los Angeles has acknowledged the need for many infrastructure projects in Watts, including through their plan to “[make] traffic safety and accessibility improvements to Central Avenue in Watts including sidewalk repair and ADA ramp upgrades, bus boarding islands, landscaped medians, parking protected bike lanes, streets, trees, and a new crosswalk with pedestrian beacons.” Despite their plans and promises, it’s not enough for our families. The burden of dangerous, inaccessible roads has fallen on our community, and we don’t need a far-off promised repair project that may or may not materialize. We need people to treat this like the emergent issue that it is, and Fatima has vowed to do so.

 

Our aging buildings and roads prevent us from solving other infrastructure issues, too. Take broadband access, for example. This article from the American Society of Civil Engineers sums up the issue well. For starters, people in our district are disproportionately impacted by lack of internet access. “Census tracts where at least 20.1% of households lack internet, census tracts where median household income is $50,000 or less, and census tracts where the predominant race is either Latino or Black overlap in concentrated locations in East Los Angeles and the communities south of Los Angeles along Interstate 110.”

 

  • One LA official described the inadequate subsidy plans that have been rolled out. “Paying upwards of $50 a month for internet is not sustainable for many families in Watts, South LA, and Boyle Heights. Telecom providers do offer subsidies, but activists contend they often balloon into higher monthly rates. Families face other barriers… including poor customer service, language differences, and digital literacy gaps.”
  • “The Los Angeles Unified School District has made more than 10,000 hot spots available to high school students from more than 143 schools who have no or limited internet access at home. Complicating their use by students, however, is the fact that, according to a report by Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, “older buildings often lack the wiring for wireless internet connection and thick walls can block the transmission of Wi-Fi and satellite signals. The senior vice president of programs for the California Community Foundation, and others agree that this is an issue around Los Angeles.”
Water & Air Contamination

Our aging infrastructure is exacerbated by the toxic pollution that AD65 faces. In a 2022 investigative piece, The Guardian examined the toxic lead and other chemical pollution in Watts. 

 

  • “Here, the average life expectancy is 12 years shorter than it is in wealthier parts of Los Angeles – in part due to the pollution. According to California’s office of environmental health hazard assessment, the area where Jordan high is located suffers environmental burdens – from dust, diesel fumes, toxic waste and water contamination – in the 99th percentile compared with the rest of the state.” 
  • “Lab testing in 2020 commissioned by the school district and state authorities found dangerous levels of lead – a neurotoxin – and other heavy metals in the school’s softball field and inside classrooms. Test results reviewed by the Guardian revealed concentrations several times higher than what the US government considers safe for children.”

 

Fatima has lived in Carson, a historical dumping ground for toxic chemicals. She has seen her own students go home from school with nosebleeds. She’s witnessed the very real impacts of pollution on our community’s health. In addition to policies of proactive environmental justice, like advocating for a 2500 setback zone between homes, schools, hospitals and oil and gas sites, Fatima knows we have to immediately help our families and children who are being poisoned – sometimes to death – right here in our district.

Trash Buildup & Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping and trash buildup have been consistent issues in our district, and it’s just continued to get worse. A 2021 report from the LA Controller’s office found that South LA is one of the most heavily impacted areas in the Los Angeles region, with some areas seeing up to 600% increases in cleanup requests, often far-outpacing city crews that can fulfill this civic infrastructure necessity. 

 

Illegal dumping is a major contributor to the build-up of waste and debris on streets, alleyways, and sidewalks. It is the result of unscrupulous businesses and individuals failing to properly dispose of solid waste or hazardous waste, such as common trash, appliances, paint, construction and demolition waste, and used motor oil. Businesses that dump waste also gain an unfair competitive advantage over those that pay proper waste disposal costs…

 

More should be done to address the sources of illegal dumping – The City needs to be more aggressive in eliminating illegally dumped waste generated by businesses, residents, and construction projects. Specifically, the City could benefit from a concerted and coordinated public awareness campaign that makes Angelenos aware of the harmful impacts of dumping, and advertises free and low-cost options for disposing of excess waste and bulky items. The City should also bolster its oversight of businesses and construction projects to ensure they are properly disposing of waste.” 

 

The report goes on to specifically recommend that policymakers “boost oversight of commercial trash customers and construction projects to ensure waste is properly disposed of; and pursue new funding opportunities to support the expansion of illegal dumping abatement programs.”


For parts of our district that aren’t in LA, the spillover effect is clear. Because, as the LA Controller’s report noted, people perpetuating illegal dumping don’t respect neatly drawn city lines. As dumping and trash build-up have increased in Los Angeles neighborhoods, it’s also impacted the rest of our district that neighbors AD65 communities in Los Angeles proper. The lack of enforcement or innovative solutions in areas like Watts is clear. Businesses and individuals that engage in trash dumping aren’t the ones who have to pay the price for it – we are. This is a health and safety issue as much as it’s an issue of corporate fairness. Fatima knows that this issue is the result of years of civic negligence, loopholes and lack of enforcement for businesses and construction, and lack of well-funded, well-advertised public programs for free waste disposal and community management.

Food Deserts & Lack of Access to Healthy Foods

AD65 is riddled with an unbelievable number of “food deserts.” Per this Los Angeles report, food deserts are considered “an area with a 20% or higher poverty rate and in which one-third of the population lives more than one mile away from a supermarket.”

 

We have entire communities that are almost exclusively dependent on fast food or highly-processed, nutritionally inadequate convenience food. This isn’t just a matter of taste or the occasional night heating up frozen food after a long day – lack of access to healthy, fresh food is a major public health problem for our neighborhoods. Our lives and health are tied to our ability to meet our nutritional needs. 

 

  • “In general, in the developed world the poorer you are, the more likely you are to depend, for the majority of your calories, on highly processed and nutritionally inadequate food. And the more likely you are to die of diet-fueled diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes. People living in food deserts who often rely on fast food have seven times the risk of having a stroke before age 45, double the risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes, and four times the risk of kidney failure (Robbins, 2020).”
  • Beyond immediate health risk, the presence of food deserts presents an issue of systemic racism. One study conducted by The Food Trust organization found that Black Americans are nearly 400% more likely than White Americans to live in a neighborhood or community that lacks a full-service supermarket (Robbins, 2020). Specifically in the state of California, 7 out of every 10 Latinx people are obese, and they make up two-thirds of the state’s food insecure households (Portnoy, 2020).

 

So how many of us in AD65 live in food deserts where access to healthy, fresh food is a struggle? Far too many. 

  • Per LMU, in an analysis of South LA County, “a low density of grocery stores, and a high density of corner and convenience stores and fast food restaurants was found. 94% of food retail outlets in South LA were found to be convenience stores, which is consistent with the CHC study conducted 8 years ago, indicating that while the population in South Los Angeles continues to grow, the accessibility to fresh food does not.12.5 times more fast food restaurants were found than grocery stores.”

Per this analysis in LA Magazine, “the area of Watts is classified as an ‘urban food desert’ by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because at least 100 households are more than half a mile away from the nearest supermarket and have no vehicle access. Grocery stores in food deserts are typically small, and lack selections of fresh meat, fish, poultry, and produce. The USDA has identified 150 food deserts in Los Angeles County.”

Our Plan

So what will Fatima do?

1. Urgent Collaborations With Local, Regional, and State Agencies.

  • Fatima will create a special focus on collaborating with local, regional, and state agencies to get green infrastructure in place.

     

  • The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works report urged further consideration of creating green spaces in areas like Watts through urban green initiatives and repurposing other spaces. “Local agencies are working to identify innovative solutions, particularly in densely populated communities with no available vacant land. Underutilized properties, utility corridors, and other public spaces are being considered for new parks as well as partnerships for joint use/reuse with schools, hospitals, and others.” Fatima will empower more green spaces like this by identifying vacant land for pocket parks and open spaces, creating incentives for healthy food retail through small business entrepreneurships and exciting community-based events, like night markets and art hops. She will also fight for state funding so that the burden doesn’t fall disproportionately on our community. Bills like AB2114, which would incentivize “pocket forests” in dense urban areas like ours, which Mike Gipson didn’t vote for, would be an incredible start on this crucial issue. Fatima will not back down from fighting and voting for bills that would help our community’s livelihoods – and potentially save their lives. 

 

2. Prioritize Constituent Voices First and Foremost.

Fatima will collaborate with constituents and community groups. She will proactively hold town halls, continue field door knocking efforts to listen to residents, and engage in urgent discussions with community leaders and advocacy groups all over the district. She puts people over profit and believes that the true stakeholders of our community are you- the people. 

  • “The Prevention Institute’s report also notes that the push for park infrastructure equity has been led by “low-income communities of color, environmental justice, civil rights, public health, and social justice groups. South LA groups active in this space include the Community Coalition, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and the National Health Foundation.” Fatima is a proud part of that push for park equity justice. She’s been part of groups like Watts Rising for many years, and she knows that involving community members in organizing is a critical part of achieving equity in this space. The report agrees. “Just as these inequities have been produced, it is possible to create pathways to park and green space equity. Reversing park inequities in South LA is critically important to ensure justice, improve residents’ health and wellbeing, and reduce economic losses that result from the costs of treating preventable chronic diseases and premature loss of life.”

     

  • Standing up to the power structure requires an ally inside the system – and Fatima will serve the hardworking families of our district first. The Prevention Institute’s report explains the importance of elevating this issue. “In addition to emphasizing new or improved park spaces in high-need neighborhoods, these groups focus on building power and organizing capacity among residents most impacted by park deficits and supporting their efforts to advance effective solutions. Power is necessary to bend the arc of ongoing park and green space investments toward equitable, racially just outcomes. Building an ecosystem of power in South LA has enabled local groups to push for government transparency and accountability when it comes to parks and generate the political wherewithal—inside and outside government—to make sure public dollars for parks go where they are needed the most. They have also changed the dominant narrative about parks—from one in which parks are seen as a low priority to one in which they are understood as essential for healthy, safe, and vibrant communities.”

 

3. Urgent Issues Need Immediate Action: A Four-Point Strategy for Transparency and Results. 

At the end of the day, our district should look like other fully funded districts. We should be able to go for a walk on a sidewalk that isn’t crumbling, filled with trash or go for a drive on solid roads. We shouldn’t have to go out of the district to get healthy food. Infrastructure issues such as access to water, sewage spills, and toxic pollution are related to big issues like the climate emergency, but they’re also related to a core problem: the people of our community have not been prioritized over the profits that some companies believe they can suck out of our district with no regard for our wellbeing. When our streets are clean and safe and functional, not damaged and dirty, it cultivates a sense of pride and belonging. Residents deserve cleaner air, more park space, and the assurance that together we will build our resiliency against the impact of climate change. Through her innovative collaborations, people-over-profit approach, and constituent empowerment measures, Fatima will deliver beautiful spaces, safe structures, and healthy communities for AD64. 

Fatima will focus her efforts on infrastructure through a four-point strategy. 

    1. Our communities are dealing with the health impacts and issues of aging infrastructure and lack of sanitation every single day: we can’t waste more time. To meet this moment, Fatima will start by creating an effective system to work with CalTrans, Public Works and LA County to streamline regular and special project timelines for completion. What we’re doing hasn’t been enough, and it hasn’t gotten delivered fast enough. Fatima will make it a priority with her staff to create effective lines of communication with regional and local partners, including on issues of garbage disposal and illegal dumping. By funding free waste disposal programs that make it easier for people and businesses to properly dispose of waste, as well as forming a regional partnership with the County, City of Los Angeles, and neighboring towns in our district, we can address this issue collectively and head-on. Our residents shouldn’t have to pay for our lack of infrastructure in order to keep streets clean. We will also get the word out through an aggressive public awareness campaign that advertises the numbers and avenues for submitting cleanup requests, reporting illegal dumping, and the free, accessible services for waste pickup.

       

    2. We have to rebuild the trust of the people in their government, and people deserve to know why their infrastructure emergency has been repeatedly cast aside, mishandled, or misspent. We can do this by conducting an independent audit to examine where infrastructure money was spent and what has gone wrong by examining any government entity that has received our taxpayer money for these projects in our district. We will follow this audit by setting accountability measures for state agencies, local city councils, and county officials for what would happen if projects are not done in time or are found to be mismanaged. We have to keep promises to our constituents, and we have to hold ourselves accountable for failures.

       

    3. We have to replace all lead pipes within 6 months. Fatima will lead an ambitious campaign to replace all of the lead pipes in our district within six months through a combination of local, regional, and state efforts. Our health isn’t waiting, so neither should we.

       

    4. Ensure that we have healthy spaces and healthy food. In addition to expanding green space and park infrastructure, Fatima will ensure that our current parks are clean, functional, and staffed appropriately. Fatima will also fight for funding for community gardens and incentives for healthy produce to be widely available throughout the community, including through Farmer’s Markets and small business partnerships with sit-down restaurants, corner stores, and more. 

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