Screen shot of USC Master Plan/ USC
Screen shot of USC Master Plan/ USC
Screen shot of USC Master Plan/ USC

The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council unanimously approved two motions last week, opposing USC’s Norfolk Street extension and the continued operations of Exide Technologies, a battery-recycling plant that was allowed to reopen last June after it was found to be releasing dangerous chemicals.

Approximately 75 community members attended the council’s general board meeting at the Boyle Heights Senior Center, urging the council to approve motions affecting the future of both USC’s project and Exide’s continued operations.

The motions call to adopt a Community Impact Statement (CIS) that would make a recommendation to the Los Angeles City Council, calling on 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar to take actions on both issues and demand that the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California State Department of Toxic Substance Control permanently shut down Exide.

The USC Master Plan project to extend Norfolk St. east to Soto St. promises to create improved access to and from the medical center and to residents, in and around Hazard Park, according to USC’s Associate Senior Vice President for Civic Engagement Craig Keys.

Many community members oppose the extension because the plan will take a significant portion of Hazard Park causing environmental issues and the relocation of the handball courts, among other concerns.

Exide Technologies drew several protests from community members who feel the plant is still negatively affecting the environment caused by the battery recycling process.

Newly elected Area 4, Council Representative, Veta Gashgai, who was one of three new members elected to the council that day, agreed with the board’s decision on both motions.

“The street extension is just not needed. USC has plenty of access to the medical center. All this will do is create more traffic and parking issues,” said Gashgai.

She went on to say that she would like to call on Boyle Heights residents to organize a protest at the Exide plant as an act of solidarity opposing its continued operation.

The board also unanimously approved a motion to sign a CIS and a resolution to work with Huizar’s office to implement a public education program campaign to inform residents of local laws regarding pet waste clean-up.

This would include the purchase of pet waste receptacles placed at all local parks by Huizar’s office.

Other issues discussed included a motion to select a new community officer for the executive committee, and to select new planning and land use community members.

Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published...

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