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
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
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
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
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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