CBE Fights for Healthier Communities in Oakland
- Crematorium campaign
- Other Oakland initiatives
- Building Healthy Communities
- Alliances in East Oakland
Residents of East Oakland, near the Port of Oakland, contend with fumes, particulate matter (Click here for particulate matter research report) and noise from a heavy volume of diesel trucks and the other pollution sources that facilitate freight transport to and from the fifth busiest container port in the United States. Click here to view the summary of our East Oakland Diesel Truck Survey. Or view the full Survey.
East Oakland residents also experience high rates of poverty and unemployment, and lack of access to healthful food options. The concept, Cumulative Impacts, describes how these social elements, along with pollution, combine to inflict long-term damage the health of residents (Our mapping study pinpoints the location of environmental health risks). CBE’s work in East Oakland therefore promotes a variety of essential aspects of a healthy community—access to clean air and the availability of quality, healthful food. View other areas of our East Oakland efforts:
Keep Oakland for the Living, Not the Dead
East Oakland residents are striving to realize their vision of a green and vibrant community. Yet a crematorium (Neptune Society), is attempting to operate next to homes, churches and schools without an environmental review and without a conditional use permit that would put a check on its operations.
Crematoriums emit a number of pollutants, including mercury and dioxin. East Oakland is already overburdened by pollution. And the consequences of this pollution: lower life expectancy compared to the rest of the Bay Area; East Oakland has one of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the country, with children under five especially hard-hit.
So why would East Oakland welcome a crematorium that can burn up to 3,000 bodies per year?
CBE worked to put in place an Emergency Ordinance prohibiting any crematorium from opening without first receiving a Major Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the city. We applaud the leadership of City Councilmember Larry Reid and the Oakland City Council who unanimously recognize the impacts crematoriums could have on public health.
We continue to work with allies like the Allen Temple Baptist Church, local business and others to help ensure:
- residents are properly notified of the project and to have open public participation,
- public health and environmental impacts of the crematorium are revealed,
- city of Oakland adopts a permanent ordinance to regulate crematorium activities under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
In May 2013 East Oakland won a 180 day extension to the Emergency Ordinance with unanimous support from the Oakland City Council. On June 18th, CBE tallied another win at the Planning Commissioners meeting. CBE also continues to garner support from local businesses.
There are still plenty of opportunities to prevent The Neptune Society from polluting our town. Sign our online petition urging the Oakland City Council to take action against this threat to our environmental health.
* Image credit: Nia Imara
Cleaning Up and Greening Up
Throughout Oakland, empty and abandoned lots and homes are left unattended by property owners. Many of these sites become dumping grounds filled with litter and trash. They become environmental and public health hazards. Blight affects the environment, public safety, economy, local job creation and community development. The residents want the city to make its unused vacant lots available for community gardens and other green community projects.
CBE concentrates on building a more resilient community in Oakland. That means a community with the resources to rebound from such disasters as the economic downturn, an earthquake, or events linked to climate change, like heat waves. CBE is working with allies to develop a three-part Community Resilience Series.
Sowing Seeds Food Justice
The project is aimed at youth and families. The food system accounts for 17% of all fossil fuel use in the United States. Food may have to travel somewhere between 1,500 to 2,500 miles from the farm to the dinner plate. Diesel trucks and other freight transport create serious cardiovascular, respiratory, and other health risks in East Oakland. CBE joined with allies to conduct a food survey and is moving toward community gardens to supply local food. Consuming local food decreases the need for freight transport, and decreases the attendant health risks. Click here for our factsheet on food justice.
East Oakland Building Healthy Communities
CBE is also working to expand the number of full-service grocery stores available to the residents of East Oakland as part of the East Oakland Building Healthy Communities campaign. Building Healthy Communities looks to land use and zoning policies to increase the number of locally owned and community-based businesses that can be part of providing healthful food to East Oakland, and attract and support other good-neighbor companies to boost the local economy.
Alliances in Oakland
Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC)–CBE is member of the OCAC, which promotes collaborative work for local climate change solutions. CBE’s work is focused on implementing policies to combat climate change. These policy center around the issues of urban agriculture, water, freight transportation, waste, recycling and local energy projects within Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan. The work with OCAC also fits into CBE’s broader goal of creating resilient communities through organizing.
Oakland Food Alliance—When the low-end grocery chain, Foods Co. (subsidiary of the Kroger Company) made plans to move into poor neighborhoods in East Oakland, CBE helped build a coalition around food justice. Concerned about the increased diesel traffic and the kind of food choices available, CBE organized to push for healthy food options for local residents, and worked with the United Food and Commercial Workers around local hiring policies.