Thursday, April 15, 2010

Freeway pollution flip flop

One of the biggest issues in Claremont in recent years was the affordable housing project on Base Line Road.

Dozens upon dozens of residents came out against the project, mostly citing studies that say children living near freeways can develop serious health problems from the air pollution.

But when the city council on Tuesday night approved the sale of that land to a private residential developer, there was one lone voice in the audience who addressed the council.

Former city council candidate Opanyi Nasiali said, "I still want to be on the record as saying that the city should not be allowing any new residential developments adjacent to the freeway."

And what about the other residents and groups who came out so fiercely against the affordable housing project being built in their neighborhood? The ones who denied being NIMBYs (not in my backyard) and were only concerned about the welfare of children who would end up living there?

At the March 23 council meeting, Joseph O'Toole chimed in. His group, Citizens for the American Dream, strongly opposed the affordable housing project and relied upon the freeway pollution argument.

"I agree to the market-priced housing on the area next to the strawberry patch," O'Toole said. "We went through many years of fighting [the affordable housing project] and we're very happy with market-based housing."

I guess his argument goes that poor people don't have a choice on where to live and would be stuck living by the freeway. But people with money are free to live where they want and can choose to buy a home by the freeway at their own risk.

But the truth is that all children, rich or poor, do not have a choice on where they live. Their parents are the ones who ultimately make those decisions. And those studies cited by Citizens for the American Dream and others show that children up to the age of 18 and the elderly are the ones most likely to be harmed by freeway pollution.

So if O'Toole and other former opponents of the affordable housing project were genuinely concerned about children's health, they would not support any residential development along freeways in Claremont.

The fact that O'Toole and other former opponents are now supporting "market-based housing" just screams of hypocrisy to me.


  1. Once again, you use your soap box to take a cheap shot at the opponents of the affordable housing project. You willingly label opponents of the project as NIMBY's, even naming Mr. O'Tool, yet you don't mention that your own newspaper opposed the project. Are you calling the Courier hypocrites? Furthermore, you take apples, the simple sale of the property to a private developer, and attempt to make orange juice by chastising these folks for not opposing the sale.

    Perhaps if the new owner decides to develop a "tot lot" next to the freeway, you might see concerned "citizens" opposing the development. If not, then feel free to call them hypocrites. However, if you're in the mood to label the hypocrites of Claremont, then you should include the ones who were argued for the development but against drive-troughs based on pollution.

  2. Good for you, TK! Call them for what they are: hypocrites.

  3. In response, I'd point out that the COURIER editor who wrote those columns in opposition to the affordable housing project was writing her personal opinions on the subject. And she no longer works for the COURIER. The writing on this "soap box" reflect only my opinions.

    Secondly, this post was not about the sale of the land. It's about the plan for a residential development, with families and children, to be built at the site.

    Former critics of a housing project who cried foul about freeway pollution and its negative affect on children are now actively supporting a new housing development there.

    What's the difference between the two? One was for "low income" people and the new one is "market rate" housing. Yes, I find this hypocritical.