Working toward a more healthy, sustainable community
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT), Redeemer Community Partnership (RCP), and Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County (NHS) has announced a milestone in ongoing efforts to reimagine a former oil drill site on West Jefferson Blvd. that was a source of harm for generations.
In a landmark achievement years in the making, LANLT, RCP, and NHS acquired the former Jefferson oil drill site in South Los Angeles for redevelopment as a neighborhood park, affordable housing and a community center. This acquisition marks a significant step towards realizing the vision for a healthy, safe and sustainable community where children and their families can thrive free from corporate oil’s toxicity. The acquisition follows years of community organizing by RCP to close the drill site and a $10 million state grant facilitated by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer. The partners leading the acquisition said the following:
“We are receiving beauty for ashes. The journey from fighting to end neighborhood oil drilling to redeeming the drill site to become a place of peace and blessing for our community is an answered prayer and a testament to the remarkable perseverance of residents and the many friends who made this journey with us,” said Richard Parks, president of Redeemer Community Partnership. “We hope that this remarkable transformation expands our collective sense of the possible and builds muscle for the work of protecting our children’s future and our common home.”
Tori Kjer, executive director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, said this: “Through unity and over four years of dedicated effort, we have brought these two acres back to the community. Now, as partners, we embark on a transformative journey to cultivate this space into a park – a sanctuary for community, nature and future generations to cherish. In doing so, we uphold the principle of park equity, ensuring that this green haven serves as a beacon of inclusivity, accessibility and environmental justice for all.”
Lori Gay, president and CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County said, “Owning land provides food, shelter and stability. Home Matters. When we learned that local residents were kept from achieving stability and were subjected to inequitable and unjust practices and environmental racism, we had to join in partnership with RCP and LANLT. Joining arms with our neighbors, nonprofit friends, local government and business partners is the only way to ensure the health, empowerment and stability of our communities. We are blessed to see and hear the triumphant work of our neighbors and to participate in a way that builds generational wealth and stability through affordable homeownership for generations to come. We can’t wait.”
Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (59th District) said, “Teaming up with coalitions like the one led by Redeemer Community Partnership makes it possible to reinvest, reform and re-energize communities by removing blight from our neighborhoods and replacing it with green spaces and affordable housing. Today, with state-secured funding of $10 million, we begin a new chapter in South Los Angeles. It began with the closure and purchase of the Jefferson Oil Drilling site and will conclude with 70 new units of housing, a community center and a near acre of park space for the community to enjoy for generations.”
In 2013, members of the South LA community began to mount a fight to close the Jefferson oil drilling site. The local residents, affected by detrimental health and environmental impacts due to the operations, began sharing their stories and the harms they experienced for decades. The community’s struggle highlighted health effects linked to the site, including pervasive headaches, nosebleeds and miscarriages, among other illnesses.
The community also began a robust campaign of local monitoring and reporting of chemical use, violations of local and state safety laws and regulatory failures. With a unified voice, they successfully advocated and led a land use control and public nuisance abatement campaign for the closure of the site in 2018. Acquisition of the drill site charts a dramatic departure from decades of environmental racism, malign neglect and sacrificial zoning.
Since the site’s closure, RCP, LANLT, and NHS have worked tirelessly to reimagine the future of the drill site. Engaging through neighborhood charrettes, RCP helped the local community surface a shared vision for the site that includes a community park, affordable housing and a community center. LANLT and RCP also hosted a series of community charrettes to understand the community’s design preferences for the park. NHS is working on affordable housing ownership for the site using a land trust model. The development team expects environmental remediation work to begin in early 2024.