Los Angeles: Signaling a potential turnabout in the city’s role in regulating air quality, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Feb. 1., appointed Indian American Councilwoman Nithya Raman to the governing board of the regional agency that sets key regulation affecting the Southern California region’s air quality and polluting industries.
Raman would replace Councilman Joe Buscaino, who had served on the governing board of South Coast Air Quality Management District since 2013.
The news was cheered by some community groups and environmental advocates — including ones that specifically champion justice for communities whose needs they contend are overlooked in favor of the interests of polluting industries — as a major shift in the role the city would take on the board.
“This is a good day for those of us living in the smoggiest air basin in the country,” said Chris Chavez, deputy policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air.
“Millions of Southern Californians, especially those in marginalized communities, breathe air that fails to meet national and state air quality standards,” he said.
And yet, any effort to urge the board “to pass even the most basic air pollution protections often becomes a years-long arduous fight,” he said.
The group was among nearly two dozen groups that signed onto a Jan. 28 letter to Garcetti urging for Raman’s appointment.
The news of Raman’s appointment was “a hopeful sign that the city of Los Angeles understands the scale of our region’s air pollution problems and is ready to get serious about meaningful policies to improve our air quality,” said Adrian Martinez, senior attorney for Earthjustice, another of that signed the letter.
“We’re looking forward to working with Councilmember Raman on new rules that mandate polluters clean up their act and invest in non-polluting zero-emission equipment,” he said.
Raman represents the 4th council district, which spans over the Santa Monica mountains and connects neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley to those in the Los Angeles basin. It includes Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Van Nuys, Reseda, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz.
She responded to the news on social media, saying she was grateful to the mayor and the “powerhouse coalition of environmental orgs who supported my nomination.”
“Many of them work with the L.A. communities most intensely impacted by air pollution,” she said. “I look forward to working alongside them to make change.”