A Community That Did It Right   

Posted: March 9, 2020
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel

    In the 1960s, the State of California was embarking on a freeway building binge.  The State was mapping out the great freeway system of California.

    Under the unrestrained eminent domain exercised by California at the time, freeways were built wherever the engineers drew a line.

    My hometown at the time was the 3.4 square mile city of South Pasadena.  The state decided to build a missing link of the Long Beach Freeway between the cities of Alhambra and Pasadena with the center divider literally going through my bedroom.

    My parents had moved to South Pasadena having built their dream house with the plan of having their three children attend the excellent South Pasadena school system.  They did not like the State of California saying that it would take their home of fewer than 6 years.  My parents got together with a few other parents and a fight was on against the State to stop the freeway.

    I attended the very first State hearing on the freeway extension, hitching a ride from South Pasadena to the City of San Diego.  Still in elementary school, I took black & white photographs at the hearing.  I later developed the film and printed the pictures myself and had them published in the local city newspaper.  The City soon became involved in a long, long fight to stop the State from dividing the city and destroying many historical properties.

    Although I moved out of South Pasadena when I later went on to higher-level schools, I have always been proud of the fight in the citizens of South Pasadena.  For many years the City held an annual parade.  The event highlighted the purpose of the City's fight and to help educate children that the high quality of life in South Pasadena is worth protecting.  Many of those children grew up and replaced their parents as freeway fighters.

    The City continued to fight for decades.  The State proposed many mitigated proposals and finally planned to tunnel under the City.  Eventually, things just got too expensive and a year ago, after fighting with the City for well over a half-century, the State legislature officially withdrew the planned extension.

    When a handful of residents first rose against the State in the 1960s, historical and environmental protections did not exist.  The fight was much tougher than it is today.  So, when the Newberry CSD directors talk about surrendering upon seeing a bully, I see the CSD directors embarrassingly weak.

    The City of South Pasadena kept fighting, even in times of hopelessness, because the City understood that the unique quality of its City's life was at stake.  The City understood that as long as it kept in the dog fight, the freeway extension wasn't being built.

    The far larger cities of Pasadena, Alhambra, and Los Angeles were constantly exerting great pressure upon the federal and state authorities to build the extension, but South Pasadena stood firm.

    This firmness to do what is right for one's community appears lacking in Newberry Springs.  Our local Newberry officials lack the vision of the negative impacts that industrial solar will bring to Newberry.

    The Newberry CSD directors have not handled their court Petition well with the community.  The construction of the solar facility will have a significant impact on Newberry's residents.

    Like the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the residents are very nervous about the unknown and they want to have as much information as possible.

    On the solar issue, it has been critical that the CSD keep the citizens as fully informed of the facts as possible.  The CSD has refused to release any information.  Like with the Coronavirus, if the public understands that information is being kept secret, their fears are greatly amplified.

    There is nothing with the negotiation with the County that is so secret that it outweighs the public's right to know.  The mismanagement of the CSD in not sharing information is abusive and negligent.

    The State of California was a bully when it originally came to South Pasadena, but the fiber of the City Council wasn't Yellow.

    We will be soon learning the legacy color of the Newberry CSD's directors.

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