Signal Hill as vantage point

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March 27, 2019

Critical Commentary

At the opening of the workshop, we gathered at the highest point of Hilltop Park. Katie Cox (with the help of Steve Meckna, a local high school teacher and long-time Long Beach resident) pointed out landmarks in our view, among them: 

- The Los Cerritos Wetlands where Tongva and Acjacheman activists have been fighting the drilling of 120 new oil wells in the wetlands, approved by the Long Beach City Council last year as, ironically, part of “wetlands restoration project” funded by a corporation called Beach Oil Minerals.

The ports of LA and Long Beach-the first and second largest ports in the country, and together the 10th largest port complex in the world. In the 1890s, used to ship in timber from the Pacific NW to fuel the southern California’s early real estate boom. The growth of the ports was accelerated by the discovery of oil around that time. The South Bay sits on what was then the most productive oil field in the world. Then they became a Navy hub during the World Wars.

- The string of oil refineries running north between the 110 and the 710, long dubbed “Cancer Alley” by local environmental justice advocates

- The City of Carson, an industrial suburb incorporated in the 1960s as many black families were looking to buy homes and move out of South Central LA

- Cities of Torrance and Bell, which began as white, working class petro-suburbs described by Daniel Cumming, though cities like Bell are over 90% Latinx.

- The high point of Palos Verdes Peninsula, a very affluent white suburb mostly sheltered from the pollution of these industries