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    Diana's Map, Rae's Map

    (May 24, 2003) -- We think it's important to acknowledge the accomplishment of two Long Beach women, reflected in two significant events that took place on May 20, 2003 in the Long Beach City Council chamber.

    During a high octane study session on 710 freeway expansion, attended by the entire City Council and addressed by some of the area's biggest bigwigs, an I-710 project consultant displayed a map and stated, almost matter of factly:

    Yet another item to be concerned with is the environment, and in this case, this slide shows our air quality situation. This is a map that was developed by the [South Coast] Air Quality Management District in their MATES-2 study, and what it does is it shows you cancer risk, and cancer risk from something called toxic air contaminants. I would bet that you've seen this slide before, but what we've done is we've etched out our I-710 study area and superimposed that so that you can see we're in one of the worst locations within the south coast air basin with regard to toxic air contaminants.

    Yes, the Council has seen that map before...And yes, many LB residents know about that map.

    Diana Mann, who heads ECO-link (a LB based environmental group) took that MATES-2 map everywhere. She enlarged it and pasted it on a poster board. She lugged it door to door in Belmont Shore neighborhoods. She hauled it across town to community meetings.

    And she put it officialdom's faces. She forced them to look at it at meetings of the LB City Council and Board of Harbor Commissioners. To make sure they understood it, she called it the "Long Beach Diesel Death Zone."

    [ was the first LB media outlet to report the MATES-2 study in detail over a year ago. Because of MATES-2's continuing importance for human health and environmental justice, we maintain a permanent link to the article on our front page (]

    What a the entire LB City Council -- including now-Vice Mayor Colonna, fending off criticism over the 710 freeway process -- heard a taxpayer-paid I-710 consultant use the same MATES-2 map Ms. Mann cited to illustrate her points.

    Later that same day, the Council received a City Hall staff report on Airport area land use. It included a map showing the locations of Airport area developments.

    That map also had a grassroots origin.

    8th district homeowner Rae Gabelich believes City Hall is conducting "piecemeal" incremental expansion of LB Airport, camouflaging the major expansion with small serial projects to avoid serious environmental review of the entire project. City Hall dismisses the criticism.

    When city officialdom proposed to use part of the Veterans Stadium parking lot (Clark Ave. at Conant St.) for Airport employee and rental car parking, Ms. Gabelich opposed it at the Planning Commission and, when they approved it, she appealed it to the City Council.

    Ms. Gabelich reasoned that pictures -- in the form of maps -- would speak a thousand words, showing the extent of what City Hall had incrementally built up over time. At the Council hearing, she calmly presented one map showing a large Airport project. Then another map of another project. And another. And another.

    Map after map, project after project, hit like a hammer on a nail. By the time Ms. Gabelich had finished, the audience was buzzing. Although a Council majority voted against her, Ms. Gabelich's maps spoke for themselves.

    A few weeks later, Ms. Gabelich (who also heads LBHUSH2, a grassroots homeowner group that presents a non-City Hall perspective on LB Airport matters) was invited to address a meeting of the Stearns Park Neighborhood Association. She brought her maps and they again got public attention.

    In late March, responding to a February request by 8th district Councilman Rob Webb pressed by LBHUSH2, city staff released a report with a detailed official map of LB Airport area development and in April posted it on the internet. On May 20, city staff agendized the report and map for Council discussion.

    Now Ms. Gabelich didn't have to bring her homemade maps.

    Ms. Mann and Ms. Gabelich have gone where the truth leads no matter whose toes it steps on.

    They are leading in the dance...while others accustomed to calling the tune try to keep up.

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