Pacoima Must Transform Itself Once Again

Monday, October 2, 2017

By Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra and Senator Robert M. Hertzberg

Long before Los Angeles had the Dodgers, the film industry or even before “The Pobladores”, Native Americans settled along the now Los Angeles River in a place called Pacoinga. Centuries passed until the arrival of the Spanish and the establishment of the mission in San Fernando. By the late 1800s, Pacoinga became Pacoima and a destination for minority groups to call home. For much of the 20th century, Pacoima was the only area in Los Angeles where African-Americans and other people of color could buy property. As the prospect of prosperity drew more and more people, Pacoima once again changed to become more than ninety percent Latino.

At every stage of its history, Pacoima is synonymous with transformation. However, it is time that Pacoima receive a new transformation, one that it desperately deserves: an investment in parks, transportation, access to jobs, and preparedness for our changing climate.

Pacoima is one of the most disadvantaged communities in the state when it comes to air quality and pollution. Its neighborhoods suffer from choked freeways, dense industrial areas, active landfills, and a commercial airport notorious for lead emissions. Pacoima’s lack of greenspace and strong urban heat island effect makes it one of the most vulnerable areas in the City of Los Angeles to the impacts of climate change as the number of extreme heat days multiplies in the coming decades.

Fortunately, the time for a positive transformation is now. The State of California has a unique opportunity to invest in Pacoima through the Transformative Climate Communities program by awarding $35 million to transform Pacoima into a more resilient, energy efficient, and green neighborhood in the heart of the Valley.

This likely once-in-a-generation opportunity will require all of us, policymakers, non-profits, families, advocates, schools, and neighborhood associations to band together and to be united in supporting Pacoima. While many groups in Pacoima and the northeast Valley have worked tirelessly for years in the community, now more than ever we need to be together.

The Transformative Climate Communities grant would fund initiatives to install rooftop solar and home weatherization, expand job training and workforce development opportunities, promote active modes of transportation, and provide a fleet of electric vehicles for residents. The combination of these programs will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of living, and the burden of commuting in Los Angeles.

For a community that has raised Ritchie Valens, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, George Lopez, professional athletes, and members of Congress, this Transformative Climate Communities grant presents the prime opportunity to revitalize and invest in a neighborhood that has been foundational to the San Fernando Valley and to Los Angeles as a whole. We all need to act, if you don’t know where to start, call our district offices at (818) 767-3901 or (818) 901-5588.

Raul Bocanegra is the Democratic Majority Whip in the California State Assembly.  He represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Granada Hills, Lakeview Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar and the City of San Fernando.

Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, representing Senate District 18 which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City.