NextGEN is the Federal Aviation Administration’s program to upgrade the nation’s air traffic control systems from the traditional radar+radio communication to modern satellite based GPS with automated data exchange. The net effect is that airplanes will be able to take more direct routes to their destinations and have less need to stack up, reducing effects like the Downey Rush. Because airplanes can now take more direct routes to LAX than via Downey, areas around LAX will see an increase of low altitude flights.
The Los Angeles County Community Standards District for Baldwin Hills (the ordinance that regulates the oil field) includes the following provision.
A community advisory panel shall be established by the director [of regional planning] to foster communication about ongoing operations at the oil field and to allow the community representatives to provide input to the county and the operator.
The Community Advisory Panel (CAP) consists of 21 members, including representatives of Los Angeles County, PXP (the operator of the oil field), two of the landowners (who lease the field to PXP and receive oil royalties), and representatives from various neighborhood organizations (who are appointed to the CAP by the Los Angeles County Director of Regional Planning). The representative from Culver Crest (who also serves as co-chair of the CAP) is John Kuechle.
More information about the CAP, including a complete list of members, and agendas for past and upcoming meetings, can be found online at planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills/cap
Fracking is short for Hydraulic Fracturing, an oil extraction technique that is used to increase the yield of oil wells by pumping high pressure water+chemicals down into the well to create cracks (fissures/fractures) in the shale, through which gas can then be extracted. The technique’s controversy arises from its use of toxic chemicals that may leach into the groundwater, and the resultant fissures that may cause earthquakes.
From WikiPedia and other places:
A memorandum of understanding (MOU or MoU) is a legal document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. In some cases, depending on the exact wording, MoUs can have the binding power of a contract (this is the version in use between WLAC and the neighboring Homeowners associations).
In our case, the MOU is a binding legal agreement that was entered into by the Los Angeles Community College District, CCNA and two Raintree homeowners groups. It restates many of the mitigation measures that were included in the College’s Environmental Impact Report and makes them binding contractual obligations of the College and the Community College District running in favor of the Associations.
The Greater Baldwin Hills Alliance (GBHA) is a working group within the Community Health Councils (CHC), that consists of neighbors and homeowners associations from neighborhoods that flank the Baldwin Hills Oil Fields, united in their goal to ensure that the new regulations regarding the oil fields are the best possible.
The Culver Crest Neighborhood Association is part of the GBHA. Board members of the CCNA have been regularly attending GBHA meetings, coordinating strategies, and coming up with solutions. Included in that solution is their (our) own Community Standards District (CSD) that was written as a better alternative to the one from the County (which was originally written by PXP Oil).
We say “our” because one of the key members of the GBHA and primary author of the GBHA CSD is Ken Kutcher, who is an advisor to CCNA’s Board of Directors.
CSD stands for Community Standards District, and is a zoning overlay for a particular area or region that legislates what can or cannot be built or how how a business can or cannot be run in that given area. In the context of the PXP Oil Environmental Impact Report, the CSD says how the oil company that leases the Baldwin Hills Oil Fields can and cannot extract oil from the ground, what they must do to be in compliance with laws, etc.
A way to think about the CSD vs. the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is to use the analogy of building a large building, e.g. the Entrada office towers, Playa Vista, etc.: the applicant (the builder, or in our case PXP Oil), submits a project for consideration. The project is the CSD: it says what they’re going to drill, where they’re going to build, etc. Then comes the EIR, which looks at the CSD and figures out what kind of damage the project will create. It then recommends mitigation measures that will defend against the potential environmental damage. The planning commission then takes the data in the EIR and hopefully rewraps it into the CSD, upgrading the CSD so that the mitigation measures are built into the legislation. Repeat once or twice, and ultimately it goes in front of the County Board of Supervisors, of whom there are five individuals each covering a portion of Los Angeles. In our case, the Baldwin Hills Oil Fields fall under the territory of outgoing Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke(thus our interest in who is going to be her successor).
The Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning CSD for Baldwin Hills
EIR is short for an Environmental Impact Report. It is a document which states what the potential impact would be of a given project. Each project has its own particular set of impacts on the neighboring environment, but the impacts most often looked at include noise, air quality, visual impact, traffic, etc.
The EIR will also contain mitigation measures to constrain the impacts to tolerable levels. When an EIR is released to the public, it is called a Draft EIR. The public then has a finite period of time to comment on it. These comments are then reviewed and (hopefully) reworked into the next draft of the EIR, called the Final EIR. The spacing and timing of the drafts and comment periods of an EIR are legislated by the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA (pronounced “see-kwah”).
Finally after preparation of the Final EIR and preliminary hearings by the Planning Commission, the EIR is wrapped up and presented before the County Board of Supervisors for approval. It is at this presentation that the public has one last chance to comment on the EIR’s contents and adequacy.
It is important to remember that the EIR is just a study document. Its purpose is to inform the public and the decision makers of the ramifications of their proposed decision. It has no teeth after the project is approved. The EIR informs the public about what special individualized changes should be made to better regulate a proposed project. When a project is proposed, the project’s plans, whether they be for the expansion of a college, the development of a building, or the formulation of zoning laws for future oil drilling, are first studied in the EIR to determine what kinds of impacts should be anticipated and how to reduce those impacts to tolerable levels. Thus, if no one comments or complains about what the EIR reveals, then the plans which have been studied will seem ready for approval. This is why an EIR is so important: it is your opportunity to influence the scale and scope of a particular project.