South Bay Open Spaces Task Force

To be involved contact the Co-Chairs:
Bill Brand (310) 809-4405 bbrand@earthlink.net
Joan Davidson (310) 897-9022 j135 cooper@yahoo.com

Mission Statement:
"To actively support and promote the establishment of permanent community-owned open spaces in the South Bay. To restore natural habitats; implement appropriate green energy production; free public access; and multi-use recreational sites. To advocate for ongoing financial support. To create public appreciation and awareness through education and communication with the community, stakeholders, officials and other representatives."

On March 25th, the Executive Committee of the Angeles Chapter voted unanimously to create the South Bay Open Spaces task force. This task force was formed as a result of two Sierra Club activists in the PV/South Bay Group who have worked doggedly over the last 5+ years to restore blighted lands in their neighborhood for open space. Following is a brief description of their particular projects, but the formation of the task force is in recognition of the needs for open space in what has become one of the most densely populated areas on the entire California coast, and also one of the most park poor.

The two main projects that initiated the formation of the South Bay Open Spaces task force are Heart Park and the Palos Verdes Landfill.

The "Heart Park" vision is to convert the aging AES power plant on the coast in Redondo Beach to a restored wetland and open space, with some commercial uses as necessary to provide ongoing funding for park maintenance.

Like all the big projects such as Ballona Wetlands and Ahmanson Ranch, there is a long complicated history that has brought us to this stage of the struggle to restore this important piece of our coastline.

Originally, this unique salt marsh/wetland was a thriving area for the native Tongva Indians. They flourished for thousands of years due to the abundance of salt, fresh water, sea life, and local vegetation and wildlife. They were routed in the 19th century when the European and Spanish settlers proceeded to set up a salt works company at this site, then a power plant, then residential settlements that eventually became the most densely populated area on the California coast, over 13,000 residents per square mile.

Today there is a large (50 acres) power plant that is antiquated and rarely operates. The power lines that transmit the occasional generation cover approximately 150 acres of land in Torrance and Redondo that could be part of an urban greening project stretching all the way to the coast from several miles inland. The opportunity to bring open space to this densely populated, park poor area is magnificent, but will require political leadership that is still emerging, and continued pressure from community groups like the Sierra Club.

The second project that will greatly benefit from the formation of this new task force is the Palos Verdes landfill. Situated in the city of Rolling Hills Estates, this 173-acre parcel was the site of a waste dump for almost 30 years.

This property was operational from 1952-1980. Under maintenance of the owner, the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, the Cal/EPA Department of Toxic Substance Control is designated the oversight agency for this landfill. The landfill uses a gas extraction system with pipelines stretching the perimeter of the field. The landfill is situated in a very densely populated area today, with homes built as close as six feet away. There are 16 schools in a two-mile radius. Today this area is used for minimal recreational use.

Located in an historic agricultural area with dairy and strawberry farms, this was once rolling fields, known as the ‘Ten Hills’ with a lake noted on the USGS 1954 map. This property was mined leaving gaping holes underground as well as deep pits, and later became a landfill accepting both liquid and solid hazardous wastes. This type of co-disposal site is not allowed under today’s EPA guidelines.

Taking advantage of the methane gases formed within the landfill in the late 1970’s, the NuFuel/Getty Corporation developed the first ever gas recovery system on the northeast edge of the landfill and sold the gas to Southern CA Gas Company. In 1988 the Los Angeles County Sanitation District opened the gas to energy center selling electricity to the Edison Company. Today there are centers such as these around the U.S. However, new and better technology has been developed such as micro turbines, and some landfills, such as Puente Hills, are creating CNG or compressed natural gas to power cars. One of our goals is to incorporate a green energy source on the Palos Verdes Landfill that would enhance the electricity sold to Edison as well as promote the Cool Cities Campaign.

The formation of this new task will bring a stronger focus on the need to re-size the energy recovery process, instead of simply flaring it to the atmosphere, which is currently being proposed. The South Bay Open Space task force also serves to strengthen our resolve to restore this whole area for passive and recreational purposes, permanently.

Many thanks to the Angeles Chapter for recognizing the important opportunities these two projects represent for the South Bay.

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This page last modified: 4/3/2007