Dear Supervisor Burke:
Heal the Bay has spent over six years working with the local community on cleaning up Compton Creek. Compton Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux first inspired Heal the Bay to work towards turning this urban blight into a community resource.
We have partnered with the City of Compton, LA County, local church groups, Compton schools, the Coastal Conservancy, Santa Monica Mountains and Rivers and Mountains Conservancies, neighborhood groups, the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Watershed Council and other groups on about 10 river cleanups, watershed monitoring and education efforts, and outdoor living room and pocket park projects.
We even successfully encouraged the City of LA and the County to install thousands of catch basin screens and inserts to reduce the tremendous volumes of trash in Compton Creek. An incredible amount of work has happened in your district to improve the urban watershed, yet we still haven’t helped Councilwoman Arceneaux achieve her original dream: a clean, beautiful and healthy Compton Creek.
If everyone can pitch in to transform one of LA County’s most polluted waterways into an urban treasure, then this metamorphosis would serve as inspiration for the region to clean up and restore all of the County’s polluted waterways.
Supervisor Burke, we really need you to use your last few months as Supervisor of the 2nd District to make this dream a reality. The County has nearly $3 million in remaining Proposition A funds to purchase land in and around Compton Creek. Also, Proposition 84 funds will soon be made available for urban watershed restoration projects.
However, the Crystal Park Casino and Prism Realty have not been willing to sell portions of the polluted creek and its streambanks to one of the state conservancies at market rates. We need you to personally talk to the owners and convince them of how important it would be to sell the property to make restoration a reality. Although the Casino and the Gateway Towne Center mall adjacent to the creek generate revenues for the City of Compton, this is a chance for the City to provide a public environmental and recreational benefit for the entire Compton Creek watershed.
A restoration plan has already been designed by one of the state’s foremost landscape architects: Mia Lehrer and Associates, and provides a beautiful vision for Compton Creek. However, elements in the plan won’t be implemented without your leadership.
Due to jurisdictional issues, the County and the Army Corps of Engineers won’t install the large, long-needed, trash exclusion device just upstream of the polluted earthen-bottomed creek without your leadership. Trust me, I know. Despite over three years of effort, Heal the Bay has failed to get the County and the Corps to build this project. Colonel Magness from the Corps and the County Department of Public Works are far more likely to listen to you if you push them to move forward on this essential project.
Supervisor Burke, I implore you to seize the opportunity by making Compton Creek’s purchase and restoration one of your highest priorities during your few remaining months in office. Success will leave a green legacy for generations to come, and it will serve as an inspiration for communities across the nation fighting the “lost cause” of cleaning up the country’s most polluted waters.
Mark Gold, D. Env.
Heal the Bay