By Marisa Vasquez
As a resident of Eagle Rock for more than 20 years, I have seen the neighborhood go through its share of change. Our small pocket of Los Angeles has always prided itself for being out of sight and out of mind from people who prefer the limelight of Hollywood or Santa Monica. Eagle Rockians live a quiet life nestled in the foothills of North-East LA. We’re quite, at least, until our neighborhood and residents are threatened with injustices.
Right above the 134 freeway is collection of hills known as Scholl Canyon. These hills, though they are admired by residents of Eagle Rock as they are the beautiful backdrop that adds to our neighborhood’s natural beauty, they are owned by the City of Glendale. A section of its 30.56 mi2 extends to the hills that overlook Eagle Rock, which, in comparison, is only 4.25 mi2.
In 1961, a landfill was opened by Glendale in the furthest location from their residents: Scholl Canyon. Recently there was a plan in place to extend the landfill as concerns over the longevity of the landfill came into question. According to the Glendale News-Press, the landfill will reach capacity in 10 years, relieving the stress of expanding the landfill currently.
In the same article, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis explains that the forgotten plan of the landfill expansion is “a win for all Angelenos, and a step forward for considering smarter waste solutions.” She had mentioned that the consideration of the expansion itself was “an environmental injustice for the residents of my district.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Glendale has been aiming to repeat its history of disposing its waste over Eagle Rock by considering a 12-megawatt power-generation facility right next to the infamous landfill. The energy generated from the facility, according to the Eastsider, will only benefit the City of Glendale. They hope its performance as biogas plant will aid them in “[achieving] the State of California mandated use of renewable energy,” according to Glendale Water and Power. The good intentions of the plant are overridden by the waste it could possibly dump into the neighborhood of Eagle Rock.
The power plant would use the methane produced at the Scholl Canyon Landfill to generate electricity, but leave Eagle Rock with poor air quality and possible long term health risks. The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC), was not given enough time to be consulted on the matter while the plant was being discussed. In December of 2018, Solis and L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar teamed up with the ERNC to request that Glendale conducted an in depth Environmental Impaction Report (EIR) to better asses the decision of the plant. The EIR is scheduled to be released this month.
The successes of Eagle Rock is rare. It is not very often that community members who care for their environment succeed against the larger forces at work. My critique on the matter lies within the history of Eagle Rock’s property value. Within the past 20 years, the neighborhood has gone through gentrification and values on homes have sky-rocketed into the millions. This is a stark difference from when Eagle Rock was home to, what was considered, one of the most dangerous gangs in LA, The Avenues. Coincidentally, the Avenues became increasingly violent in the 1960s, according to KCET. This was also during the time that Glendale greenlit the Scholl Canyon Landfill to begin operating.
With the increase in property value and decrease in gang-related violence, Eagle Rock’s ability to influence their community’s future. This was not the case with Standing Rock when the Dakota Access Pipeline was being considered in 2014. Even with the giant grassroots effort that went viral around the world, the President “Trump signed an executive memorandum ordering the Army to review and approve the pipeline in an expedited manner.”
My concern is, if Eagle Rock’s gentrification did not take place and property its value did not increase, would the city of Glendale take Eagle Rock’s environmental concerns as seriously?
“The Avenues: Highland Park Gang.” KCET, 20 Feb. 2016, www.kcet.org/shows/departures/the-avenues-highland-park-gang.
“Eagle Rock Raising a Stink over Glendale’s Biogas Plant [Updated].” The Eastsider LA, 16 Nov. 2017, www.theeastsiderla.com/news/environment/eagle-rock-raising-a-stink-over-glendale-s-biogas-plant/article_cf3475f0-d944-5977-b248-f9f3129111a7.html.
Hendrickson, Bill. “Methane Controversy Continues at Scholl Canyon.” Boulevardsentinel.com, 1 Sept. 2019, www.boulevardsentinel.com/methane-controversy-continues-at-scholl-canyon/.
“Proposed Biogas Renewable Generation Project.” Proposed Biogas Renewable Generation Project, Glendale Water and Power, glendalebiogasgeneration.com/#project-benefits.
Seidman, Lila. “Glendale Officials Abandon Plans to Expand Scholl Canyon Landfill.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sept. 2019, www.latimes.com/socal/glendale-news-press/news/story/2019-09-17/scholl-canyon-landfill-expansion-abandoned.
“Who Is Responsible for the Gentrification of Eagle Rock & Highland Park?” The Eastsider LA, 23 May 2019, www.theeastsiderla.com/lifestyle/gentrification/who-is-responsible-for-the-gentrification-of-eagle-rock-highland/article_979f3fa3-f6c4-5e51-b446-cd908c32e0cb.html.