SGV CONNECT 94 TRANSCRIPT

(In order they appear):

Damien – Damien Newton

Chris – Chris Greenspon

Megan – Megan Lynch

Solis – Supervisor Hilda Solis

Text of Podcast –

Damien: Welcome to the first SGV Connect Podcast of June 2022.  We have a pair of interviews for you this week. First up, I talk with Megan Lynch. Megan is presenting tonight at the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, a presentation entitled ‘Accessible and Complete Streets.’ It’s building off of a panel discussion she just up at CalBike few weeks ago and we’re really excited to present this conversation. 

 

Next up Chris talks with Supervisor Hilda Solis about the new park that’s going to be opening, or I guess not opening yet, but it’s going to be under construction very soon out in…what city is it in again?

 

Chris: It’s gonna be in the City of Industry, Hacienda Heights, unincorporated La Puente area… right up there at the Puente Hills Dump.

 

Damien: I  feel like we’ve talked about the Puente Hills Dump a lot in this podcast recently. Wasn’t that right where your your favorite street was or do I am I mixed up in my head?

 

Chris: You’re close enough. Not right on the mark but all all roads lead to garbage.

 

Damien:  With my memory, I’m happy to be close to the mark these days. 

 

Alright I’m gonna do a quick reminder to everyone that SGV Connect Podcast and SGV coverage at Streetsblog is sponsored in large part by Foothill Transit. Offering car free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the foothills and into the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit at foothilltransit.org. Foothill Transit going good places.

 

Chris: Anyway,let’s get to that Megan Lynch interview which I listened to this morning that was really good.

 

Damien: Yes, she was she was great I think I sort of set up the interview usually when we say we’re interviewing a doctoral student with UC Davis everyone’s expecting statistics about parking or something along those lines. 

 

But she really she brings a personal story to discussing planning and advocacy for people with disabilities and making sure things are inclusive. If you go to the text of this story there’s also a link to transcripts of our podcast and we’re gonna be doing that going forward which is was kind of the a no brainer that someone still needed to say to me before I thought, ‘oh we should do that.’ 

 

Chris: I thought that the most important thing about it was that she broke down what ableism is for two able bodied bucks like us. Opening our eyes and seeing it a little more.

 

Damien: I feel like she’s able to really bring it home to people in a way that is challenging but not like putting people on the defensive. She recounts how there was there was something that happened in her late 20s where she went from someone who was very traditionally able to someone who has disabilities that she has to plan around. She said, ‘I didn’t used to think about this stuff either.’ and she talks about that and so it it really for me it was she was very the way she phrased things and the way she talked about things was very accessible as far as you know let’s do it right going forward.

 

Chris: It’s freaking you out how much you’re having to say ‘able’ to describe this.

 

Damien: Sometimes I still say the wrong thing. I grew up with the wrong language in rural Pennsylvania so to speak and I do I do…I maybe I overdo it sometimes because I certainly don’t wanna say the wrong thing. I don’t know or upset anyone when I don’t intend… well I mean I shouldn’t want to intend to either…I have a lot of bad habits when it comes to language that when you’re broadcasting you really shouldn’t. 

 

Chris: Yeah well I think uh this interview shows how willing you are to learn and I’m glad we get to share it now.

 

Damien: First up is my interview with Megan Lynch 

 

Damien: So welcome to SGV Connect. I’m Damien and am interviewing Megan Lynch. Megan is a masters student at UC Davis she’s the founder of UC Access Now. She recently presented at CalBike on ‘Accessible and Complete Streets.’  She will be presenting tonight, June 6th through the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition. A link to the event with all the information about the event can be found at Pasadenacsc.org/events

 

Anyway, thank you so much for joining us today Megan. 

 

Megan: Thanks for having me. 

 

Damien: So why don’t we start with a little just sort of background on you and how you got involved in this issue. Then we can talk a little bit about some of the things that you talked about at CalBike and we’ll talk about this show tonight.

 

Megan: I grew up riding my bike on LA County streets in the 70s my father was very good about not being afraid to let the kids ride. He took us on shorter shorter trips. We did a lot of this stuff which was pretty unusual back then and what it did for me was that I didn’t have the terror of riding on streets that a lot of people do.

 

So I’ve been riding my bike pretty much nonstop since I learned how to ride a bike and the only times I’m not on it are when I have health difficulties that prevent that. I was not physically disabled until I was 29. So I have the same issue, I still have it for disabilities that I don’ this experience of what it was like being a cyclist and know the kind of things that I didn’t notice as a cyclist who was abled. Then becoming physically disabled and having to switch to getting a recumbent and other sorts of things that I did to try to minimize the pain.

Then I started noticing the difference in the infrastructure because there’s a difference between infrastructure for bicycles, infrastructure that’s available for people riding upright standard bikes versus the various designs of recumbents.

 

It took me decades of unlearning the stuff that we get trained into and so when I went back to school, I first started going back to PCC and then eventually applied to UC Davis and got in. Before I even started my first quarter here I could spot that the inaccessible racks were gonna be a problem for me. 

 

Even when I was still in Southern California…I was tweeting a lot about what the infrastructure was like not just in terms of accessibility.

 

I started a hashtag called #bikeparkingaudit so the people while they’re out about their daily errands could notice like how many bike parking spaces are there compared to car parking space?. What’s the quality of them compared to the car spaces? How many disabled parking spaces are there versus the non disabled parking spaces? 

 

I just started tallying that up for like South Pasadena and Pasadena businesses that I was visiting. 

 

But then when I came up here and had this quite serious problem with accessible racks. Then even the the office that supposedly cares about disabled students was like, ‘Oh gee, we never knew that racks needed to be accessible.’ 

 

I went through channels trying to solve it. I was a good girl trying to solve it and then it was the struggle I went through. 

 

Damien: You’re getting your masters degree in I believe ‘horticulture and agriculture..’ 

 

Megan: Actually, it’s ‘Horticulture and Agronomy.’ Yeah, agronomy. 

 

I mean there’s there’s definitely a connection (to urban planning) there.

 

Damien: Usually when we have someone who’s a master student it’s because they’re into like bike planning and that wasn’t the case here. I wanted people to hear a little bit about the personal experience you had that you’re bringing into this so as. I saw you speak at Calkine, I believe the session was called ‘Accessible and Complete Streets’ so there’s different lessons that I was hoping you could just give us sort of a summary of what it was there I don’t want to give away too much ’cause I know what you’re doing tonight is similar so I don’t wanna give away too much.

 

Megan: Well the one coming up is going to be ‘Accessible and Complete Streets’ since it’s me speaking to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition. At Calbike, I was one of three panelists and the title…I almost don’t remember. The thrust of my presentation was that when I talk about accessibility I find I have to do some groundwork. 

 

The public conversation about ableism is really young and whereas you can talk about other kinds of oppression without having to define for people what that oppression is. Because  there’s not a public conversation about it already I find that I have to lay a little groundwork. So the the presentation starts with ‘what is ableism’ and and why am I speaking about it’ in this context of of cycling. What does it have to do with cycling?

 

So, I lay out a little bit of the history and things around that and then once I’ve done that I can start using this stuff that lends itself a little bit more to photo evidence. Because not all accessibility is something you can photograph. I think that works more than anything else because I think if you just talk to people and you go, ‘well there’s a lot of ableism here’; they’re gonna go ‘no there isn’t we don’t do that.’

 

You have to actually catch them with photographs of things that we see everyday and we don’t pick up on that these things are inaccessible to people. I have to say ‘I was one of those people I mean I didn’t become physically disabled until 29 so I have the same issue or at least had it.’ I still have it in regards to disabilities that I don’t necessarily undergo myself so it’s something you have to train yourself into. 

 

Just like a lot of cycle advocates have to train themselves into noticing ‘why does this headline say accident when we haven’t even investigated this yet.’ It’s stuff we were all brought up with to do it was “normal” and it takes a little while to big critiquing of what you were brought up around all the time.

 

So the presentation provides that sort of side-by-side evidence of things and that make people hink and see not just the infrastructure but also how cycle coalitions and others are presenting themselves. A lot of them will go, ‘we’re not ableist’ and then I go ‘well are your meetings captioned’, ‘is your meeting space wheelchair accessible.’

 

Suddenly people will realize that, ‘oh actually maybe I was being defensive by automatically saying we’re not ableist.’  We’re all guilty of various things that society brings us up to do. What we need to do is listen, to critique, examine ourselves, and improve. And that includes me as well. That’s all I’m trying to do is to critique something I feel that I’ve been a part of. 

 

I am a part of transportation reform and bicycling is a sport that I love. I want to make us more inclusive and better because if the point is to get more folks on bikes why don’t we want to make it as accessible as possible for people?

 

Damien: One quick things before we go on, I want to say the name of the panel at CalBike was ‘Disabilities and Advocacy: Building a Truly Inclusive Movement.’ There’s a YouTube video to of it it’s an hour and 13 minutes long and again the link of it will be with the text that accompanies this podcast. 

I’m just gonna be honest though when we started this conversation you asked me, ‘do you provide a transcript to make things accessible? Do you provide transcripts to go with the podcast?” 

 

I actually froze reading the email because it hadn’t occurred to me to do that. I read up about accessibility issues and and we’re gonna start doing that with this podcast. We’re gonna go back to some of the ones that have gotten heavy second listens over the years and do that too. 

 

Years ago when we started doing this podcast, I read an article that said  specifically not to do that. People won’t listen to the podcast. They’ll just read it and so that’s been in my mind for eight years and until you called me on it. I wouldn’t have if you hadn’t called me on it. I never would have come up with it on my own. 

 

Megan: Even that advice, I can understand where it’s coming from, but at the same time having transcripts up may actually help your SEO. Maybe searching on a subject you discussed in your podcast and if it’s there in black and white they’re gonna pick up on it… 

 

Damien: Oh it’s terrible advice on several fronts. I’m not going to get too into this specifics ’cause this isn’t a podcast about me but this is a story I tell about my own life where my doctor told me something when I was young that I never questioned my entire life. Even though it was completely ridiculous. Then one day my mom at a Christmas party was shocked that I was still telling people this because she clearly had told the doctor to tell me something. And he did and I was told it as a kid, and I just never reconsidered.

 

It the same it’s the same sort of story. Ok, my story involved allergies and certain drugs. I’ll just leave it at that. 

 

But it it’s the same type of thing.I was told this when I first started my podcast and I just accepted that that was the correct thing and I never questioned it. Years later, now it’s a podcast and we’ve got sponsorships and I’ve got a co-host who’s a way better podcaster than me.  The fourth straight one that is  a way better podcaster than me…but and so but I was still going off this play book that I had read eight years ago and just never questioned it.

 

Anyway transferring back off of me and  bad advice from 2012. If we’re gonna gonna talk about this we should talk a little bit about what’s going on in the UC campuses and the work you’re doing there. I keep wanting to call it Access UC or because of the Twitter but I got UC Access Now! 

 

Megan: As a result of me pulling too many all nighters the Twitter username is AccessUC  but UC Access Now! is the name of the group at large.

 

Damien: I like the term ‘demandifesto.’ I don’t know that I’ve ever heard that before but I like it. Why don’t you just tell us a little bit about what you’re doing there? 

 

Megan: As I was mentioning, it’s not a one issue group. What I was describing there was really the catalyst for the formation of the group. The thing is is that when I was at Community College it’s not like I I never had to struggle to get my access needs met for courses.

 

I didn’t have to struggle but the people who were there working the what I now know to be a rationing and policing office were at least trying to be advocates. Whereas here when I ask the simplest of things right when I say before the quarter even starts, nobody helps.

 

I say, ‘these racks are inaccessible to me’ and I can already see them hurting my hands. I’ve fallen a couple times. Nobody helped me up. My bike fell on top of me. I understand this isn’t going to be remade overnight. 

 

But can you please just sign a letter with me to the UC Davis Department of Transportation and Parking, which is the the department that that has jurisdiction over the bike racks? Can you sign a letter with me to them describing that this is an issue and that’s impacting my ability to go to school and to TA here and to do my research? 

 

They could not be bothered and then TAPS as we call it was also hard to get ahold of. That took months. Even my own union after months of meeting with them said this isn’t a priority issue for us.

 

So what happened here is that I’m trying to be a good girl and do the right thing because the way TAPS has it set up. This is the case at many places. They’ve got signs all over saying that if your bike is not parked to their rack they will ticket, fine, and impound it.  And they do sell off loads of people bikes all the time here.

 

I can’t afford…you know disabled people are not rich by and large. And the bikes,the kind of bikes and bicycles that disabled people need, are also very expensive because they’re not mass produced like  your average huffy is. 

 

And so I was instead of just parking to a pole or a railing which I could have done I was trying to do the right thing and work through the system. It was their intransigence and their insistence that this was just not a prioritym and it was a small issue that was like ‘OK if they’re making me work so hard and this is a public university.’

 

 I’m born and raised in the State of California. This is my university made with my money and I’m not going here for free either. There’s tuition that they charge and there’s fees and I’m I was kind of outraged by that. So if they’re gonna make me work that hard for every single thing that happens here, and this is true in terms of my first quarter here was so hard. (I only had like 1 1/2 or maybe two quarters here before pandemic) 

 

I had a special furniture because of course and it’s “special” just because the furniture in the classroom is also inaccessible. It isn’t even good for the abled students. It’s like kiddy desks and 

Anyay, it has huge labels all over saying ‘don’t move this furniture.’ 

 

I would come back and it would be moved. And there would be leftover pizza on it. It was clear that teachers from the previous class would use it as like a place to put their crap. 

 

And that constant struggle it just wears on you day after day. Every single thing you need is not too much to ask of people. But it’s  made into a big production and you’re made to feel small and subhuman. And I thought, ‘well if they’re gonna make me fight this hard for everything I want to make sure this fight is helping more than just me.’ Because I know everybody else is going through this as well.

 

I also know it’s not just at UC Davis it’s at other UC campuses. It’s not just at UC campuses it’s at everything University of California: the Med centersm the medical schools, etc. 

 

UCAR which is ‘agricultural and natural resources’ which runs the California master gardener program runs the master preserver program does the county y extension at University of California is a juggernaut that we fund and it should be accountable to the entire public.

 

It’s not. 

 

People don’t question when they see the League of American Bicyclists gives UC Davis its platinum rating for bike friendliness. Well how friendly was it to me? It actually forced me back into my car. So for more than a year I was having to drive when I had set up my life to  drive as little as possible. 

 

My health just went down the tubes as a result of it and I ended up being forced to have to get a new bike because of what that did to my health. I came here with a paid off recumbent and a paid off extra cycle that I could ride on my good days with for my hands. 

 

Now I have… for the moment anyway… unless I’m successful rehabilitating I can only ride this quadricycle that I have and that was not cheap to buy. UC is not gonna reimburse me for what it did to my health. It’s not just that it’s not just by biking it affects me in every single aspect of my health. It sounds like a trivial issue to people when you say, ‘The inaccessible bike racks are what forced me to start this organization.” But it’s really not trivial. It’s probably shortened my life to be quite honest. 

 

Damien: If the the parking is not not safe and accessible for whatever reason and you’re given several warnings then people don’t bike. If that’s your form of exercise, whether it’s because you have a program or just getting from place to place on a bike is the exercise that you have the time and capacity, and you take that away…yeah, it’s gonna have a big impact on someone’s overall life. 

 

Absolutely.

 

To just sort of combine the themes of what we’ve been talking about in this podcast do you see a role for the the broader cycling community outside of the people that are active in cycling issues but aren’t members of the UC community at the moment? Do you see a role for them to be able to get involved in the issues that you’re confronting on the campuses?

 

Megan: Yes, absolutely. 

 

We kicked off in 2020 and the first thing we kicked off was a tool to contact the governor and all the UC chancellors and the Board of Regents. We have gotten hundreds to do that, but hundreds is not thousands. That’s what they pay attention to…real public pressure and accountability. So as many people as we can get to to use our tool to write the UC decisionmakers, the better off we are because UC campuses and and UC properties are constantly under construction. 

 

They’re building all over many campuses right now and the decisions they make are long term. You’re gonna think, ‘well this is the modern this is the 21st century. We wouldn’t build anything inaccessible.’

 

You’re so naive. Your voice right now would make a great deal of difference if you can use that to contact them and ask them to move and demand changes so that we can get accessible, not only racks, but just the paths and the infrastructure storage lockers. 

 

We want everything to be accessible because that’s what gets people who are capable of it out of their cars and onto whatever they can ride and get them using their car less or not at all. We want to make that as possible as possible. 

 

Damien: Just like the couple other times in this podcast I’ll mention a link to that to that action alert will be included with the text that accompanies the podcast. So if you are not listening to this at streetsblog.org or getting it off of one of the other syndicators and you don’t see any text, just head over to la.streetsblog.org. depending when you do it it’ll either be right at the top with the SGV Connect  logo or n you can just run a search for UC Access Now! in our search bar and I’m sure this will be the top article.

 

Chris: This is SGV Connect I’m Chris greenspon with Damien Newton. We just heard from Megan Lynch. 

 

Another thing that that interview made me realize, especially going back to what you said about old habits dying hard, is that when I got into broadcasting I thought, ‘I got into radio to make audio pieces.’ I really resented having to write the the web post version of my stories back when I was a little baby reporter for Offramp. An ex girlfriend at the time said to me ‘Oh, most people just read NPR stories they don’t even listen to them.’ 

 

That really infuriated me and now with a little chiseling of my ego so to speak I’m like, ‘yeah of course I want people to read my podcast.’ So I am going to get on the transcript train too. 

That was some bad alliteration. Let’s edit it out. 

 

Damien: Now that you said that out loud, there’s no way we’re editing.

 

Chris: Yeah, well that that that’s the joke. 

 

Damien: I was actually looking back at some of my notes. You know years and years ago ,I read a ‘how to do a podcasting guide’ and it said ‘you’re gonna mess up your readership if you do it. So  if you’ve read our posts over the years with the podcast they’re really paper thin. Because if you were trying to drive people to click that link. Both Melanie at Streetsblog California and Sahra at Streetsblog LA tried to talk me out of that. I was resistant and just one question in that email she sent me. ‘Will this be transcribed so it’s accessible to everyone?’ 

 

I just read that one, ‘Oh…oh God, I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.” Then my ego kicked in. I’m like…I’m gonna double check that. I  read a few articles and like every best practices article I read was like absolutely you should transcribe. That’s the minimum you can do.

 

I have some issues with the way that Streetsblog LA’s websites are laid out as far as accessibility too. But that’s beyond my control. That’s all done out of New York and we only get new skins every couple of years. It’s on the list to fix but it’ll probably be another couple of years before it is. 

 

But I should at least be doing the things right on my end. 

 

Anyway, let’s transition a little bit to the to the second interview with with the Supervisor Solis 

 

Chris: So, this park that’s going to be built on top of a mountain of I think submerged well it’s going to be built on what used to be the biggest landfill West of the Mississippi. Puente Hills landfill which operated for about 40 or 50 years closed down I believe in 2013. Supervisor Solis  grew up in the shadow of this landfill. There’s been a bit of press already about this Puente Hills Park that’s going to be built, the first Regional Park built in the San Gabriel Valley in decades. 

 

I wanted to go deeper with her about her personal story growing up around this area and what there was in the way of parks and open space for for her as a as a young person. How is this park going to compare to Los Encinos, Whittier Narrows to Beilenson? And of course the history of the dump of the Puente Hills Landfill…why is that transforming into a park and what kind of park can we expect?

 

Past versions of this plan included, of all things, gondolas which the supervisor assures me will not be a thing on land that’s likely to subside 10s of feet. 

 

So it’s interesting not only for the reason that it is a site that once bestunk the surrounding area but also because there’s going to be a bike skills course on it. As a plan emerges for that I’m sure we’re going to want to nerd out with somebody who’s actually going to be involved in the design process about that.  

 

But for right now let’s get some back story on this 140 acre park to be…140 plus really. 

 

Chris: Supervisor Hilda Solis, welcome to SGV Connect.

 

Solis: Thank you it’s good to be with you very much. 

 

Chris: Thanks. So, let’s just start out with your history in the area around the Puente Hills Landfill. You grew up around there. 

 

Solis: I grew up in the western Puente Valley which is the unincorporated area surrounding the landfill right next to the city of La Puente and Bassett and Avocado Heights. I grew up there with my parents and seven children. The Puente Hills Landfill was there long before I was born and I know that many people at the time thought it was a hill, a mountain. 

 

No one really knew that that’s where LA County sent all of their trash for decades. Unfortunately, it kept growing and growing. 

 

Lo and behold by the time I got involved, I had just started to run my campaign for assembly, and heard from many people that lived in the surrounding area much like myself about the the nuisance that the landfill imposed upon so many communities of color. 

 

Whether it was the smell, the stench, the stink, or the fact that you had a large number of of heavy duty waste hauling trucks running through your neighborhoods and on your major thoroughfares kind of degrading the quality of your life and spewing diesel fuel right…I mean in the missions we grew up with that thinking that that was normal. As I became more engaged in my election for the state assembly representing the dump area and the surrounding areas, I heard from the Sierra Club for environmental communities. It told me, ‘Hilda we really should close that landfill. There’s no need to have it. It should be retired.’ 

 

So I worked really really hard with the local League of Conservation Voters, with the Sierra Club…many of those members have served on the Hacienda Heights Association as well as other neighborhood local groups. Neighborhood leaders who worked with me and my staff put together some legislation to look at how we could close the landfill in other parts of the county. They had done similar things where they turned them into passive parks and I thought, “Well maybe that’s something that we could have.” As a consequence, they work towards it.

 

I was very fortunate that we got a bill put together and it did become a codified. We actually got it passed and what it would require is that that landfill would close and that the sanitation district would would have to be required to provide some compensation to create the park that it would become. We had a lot of work that we had to do, a lot of people fought back including the sanitation district. We weren’t on good terms and they lobbied in Sacramento against the bill. But we kept going and and we kept pushing for it.

 

And then, in 1994, the bill was reintroduced and it passed. I was in now in the Senate. What it did was created a chapter in our public resources code known as “Puente Hills landfill open space dedication.” What that requires is a sanitation district to set aside a portion of funding so they could maintained and closed then landfill appropriately and help provide an offset funds so that it could be managed.

 

Jump forward to 2013, when it officially closed. It’s the largest landfill that was on this side of the Mississippi, about 40 stories high if you could imagine that. 40 stories high. When I ran for Board of Supervisors in 2014m that was one of the first items that I took up: looking at how we could then begin to bring our dream to fruition to completely have the landfill closed… which is possible…and then begin to piece together how we were going to reset and re imagine what that landfill would look like and be the new Puente Hills Park. 

 

Hopefully we’ll come up with another name for it. But in spite of that, it is it is a big victory for our community, for the stakeholders, and for all the people that came out over time to give testimony. 

 

These things are really critical because they come out of my my lived experience in the San Gabriel Valley.

 

Chris: One thing I wanted to ask you, ’cause I’ve grown up in La Puente and the surrounding area as well: it seems to me like La Puente out of the whole area has been one of the cities to get a bad rap, a negative connotation to it. What’s your impression of why that’s been and how do you think that a project like this can change that?

 

Solis: I think it’s unfortunate that people may feel that way and I think a lot of it has to do with the demographics and the makeup of the area. It’s a highly blue collar immigrant community and has been for a number of decades. We don’t have the luxury to hire high priced lobbyists and attorneys to represent our needs. 

 

Quite frankly, the landfill in the City of Industry is adjacent. That is where a lot of industry where a lot of other factories and places are saturated. At the time, bills did not favor communities of interest like this and I think that we were just beginning to get up to get at the cusp of of why and how we could change the course of how decisions and codes were being implemented next to communities of color that was so heavily impacted by these facilities.

 

So this was one that that came before many of us, but it kept growing and growing and growing. When I heard that they were going to continue to try to expand it that’s when I really got involved and said, ‘Wait a minute we don’t need to do this we should be reverting to other sources of waste and we should be looking at renewable energies.’ I know that the sanitation also undertookits own study and actually was trying to repurpose the use of the methane gas so that they could provide electricity and they have been doing that for the last couple of… I think I wanna say a couple of decades as wel…l and that’s one thing. 

 

That’s OK. 

 

But it’s still not enough in terms of the degradation and the harm that was incurred by the local area including our water, including our quality of life, including the air that we breathe. We don’t know fully all of those impacts; but we know that this was one plan in the process that could help us provide remediation and support for the communities that have been impacted over the decades.

 

Chris: So this is the county’s first new regional park in decades how will it rival Whittier Narrows, Arcadia, Beilenson?

 

Solis: Well it certainly will be one of the largest that’s for sure!

 

We’re looking at it in the in the coming years, the next five years to implement the first phase of the park. 

 

Before I got to the Board of Supervisors, there was talk that they were going to try to make it into more than amusement park and have gondolas and Ferris wheels and who knows what. But you can’t do that with a landfill because that earth or dirt has to settle and things will change. The topography may change. It will sink. We have to make sure that everything is appropriately scaled and that there’s continued maintenance of operation that not only the sanitation district undertakes, but also the county of Los Angeles Department of Public Works.

 

So what we’re looking at eventually here is obtaining about $110 million.  $81,000,000 which will come out of the sanitation fund that should have been set aside initially for this park but there was some question about how that money was not provided in in kind of a trust. So having to go back negotiate with them which we settled on and I’m happy that we got the sanitation and their late leaders to do that and and work this through. 

 

As a result we now have about $80 million. In addition we just struck another deal to receive about another 28 million because there is housing that’s being built in in Diamond Bar. Part of our laws require that if you’re going to take open space that you have to put a portion of funding set aside for open space. It was appropriate for us at the time to think about the Puente Hills Landfill, the park would be perfect because it’s in the in the same area in the San Gabriel Valley. We had the support of the San Gabriel COG and our elected leaders as well as people on the sanitation district.

 

So now we’re looking at a pot of about $110 million which will help us implement the first five years of phasing in of of this park. 

 

Some of the things or amenities that we’re looking at is creating a new Park Road multi use trails, landscaping and irrigation, a new visitor center and offices, scenic outlooks, and art elements, as well as park furniture, benches, signage, public restrooms, a stair climb, parking facilities. 

 

Then looking at programming that can be done through our Parks and Recreation Department. This is going to take some time. It isn’t going to happen overnight.I think the good news is to tell the community that this is a victory. For me personally this is a a legacy: a legacy of my history working on behalf of the people in the San Gabriel Valley.

 

Chris: What’s the timeline so the first part of this being open? 

 

Solis: We’re looking at five years. I would imagine five years. 

 

As it is right now on certain portions of the landfill that are facing the other side of Hacienda heights, there are current trails there now where people go hiking. so that’s one one thing that’s happening now, but I know that we have to make sure that everything is well maintained and safe.

 

You asked me earlier how large. It’s 148 acres. So this is larger than the other San Gabriel parks by far. It’s not gonna be a water park. It’s not gonna be a an amusement park. 

 

It really goes back to what our roots are, cultural roots, and really keeping the integrity of open space and having habitat and vegetation that is more unique to the area. 

 

I’m really excited. I think it’s a victory for all of us. I want to thank all the stakeholders: students, seniors, environmental groups, that came out and supported this effort in the last two two years. 

 

Chris: What about that bike skills course we’ve heard about?

 

Solis:I don’t have all that design right now in front of me so I can’t give you a lot of background on it.  I would encourage people to to talk to my office and talk to you and talk to us further with some of the other groups so that we can kind of build this out.

 

Nothing is totally in cement so we have we have opportunity in time to make it better…what the community really wants and really deserve.

 

I think it’s going to be an exciting time. Hopefully we can get other philanthropic and other NGO’s and CEO’s to get involved as well. I think it’s gonna benefit the future generations: our children, our grandchildren and other and other individuals that may not have the luxury of living around a park. 

 

As in the San Gabriel Valley we are considered park poor. That’s one of the big priorities I think for me when I ran for the Board of Supervisors was to pass the park a initiative to get more funding for parks. It’s a big need for us. 

 

We don’t have the luxury many of our families can’t go to so coia Yosemite and and sometimes even to the beach. so a walk out in the park is healthy. We know that mentally it’s healthy for all of us as well as for our children and for the air that we breathe. 

 

I think there’s a lot of wonderful things that are gonna come about because of this park. 

 

Chris: Going back to growing up in the West San Gabriel Valley, what did you have in the way of parks where could go? 

 

Solis: My father would put us in his pickup truck or his station wagon and take us up to the San Gabriel Mountains. 

 

That’s been another big part of my agenda, preserving that as a monument. Initially when I was in Congress, I carried the first bill to create a watershed study to preserve the San Gabriel Mountains.

 

Every weekend when it was summertime my father would take us on Saturdays or even Sunday after church and say, “OK guys let’s put those baloney sandwiches together and let’s get up there. But remember that this is a privilege to be able to come up here and to keep it clean and be respectful and mindful of what is here.” 

 

My father grew up in a rural part of Mexico out in Veracruz clear nearby areas where there is its mountains running streams and a volcano. 

 

So you can imagine my father really really took that in and he wanted us to kind of share in that beauty. For me it it just stuck with me for most of my political career how important it is to have open spaces.

 

Damien: Welcome back. 

 

As we’re getting ready to wrap up this podcast, there were some events we wanted the highlight.

 

First up: tonight, June 6th 7:00 PM is the event that that Megan Lynch and I were talking about with the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition. You can get information on how to sign up for the event with the text that accompanies this podcast at Streetsblog LA. Or if you’re fast enough to type it out as I say it: Pasadena CSc.org/events

 

Chris what do you have for us?

 

Chris: SGV weekly is co-presenting poetry events in Pomona on Sunday the 12th at the DA’s Center for the Arts. We’re doing this with Boom Californiam that’s the literary journal for the UC system. 

 

The event is called ‘riding home and evening with Pomona writers.’ 

 

I wish it wasn’t called an evening with Pomona writers, ’cause the riders are going on at 3:00 PM.

 

Oh also we’re having some stuff for the kids before that from like 1:30 to 3:00, like poetry workshops. There’s gonna be a a soccer tennis game or tournament or something like that. I’m not sure what Romeo has planned but there’s gonna be some soccer there’s gonna be some poetry stuff for the kids and then there’s gonna be some good writers reading for us.

 

One of them is going to be Michael Torres, who had the acclaimed book An Incomplete List of Names. this made a bunch of lists a couple years ago NPR and all that he was on Episode 13 of SGV Weekly, which I highly recommend checking out. It’s one of my favorite episodes that we’ve done.

 

So I’m gonna be there recording the proceedings and saying what’s up to whoever comes out and you know it’s over by 4:00 o’clock…plenty of time to go get a beer or some food afterwards. It’s in downtown Pomona, so if you wanna take the train there that could be good. 

 

Damien: Iit’s at a train station?

 

Chris: No, no, no, no. It’s at the dA’s Center for the arts which is…it’s really close to the train station, not in the train station proper right. 

 

Damien: So, we will definitely have at least one more podcast this June. We’re talking with the folks at the Construction Authority for the Gold Line Foothill Extension as they approach their 50% mark. It’s all downhill from there, so in a couple weeks we’ll be back again with SGV Connect Podcast.

 

cHRIS: aLRIGHT. thANKS SO MUCH.