Environmental Injustice in West Oakland
West Oakland bears the brunt of the area's pollution problems, but reaps few of the benefits. Residents of West Oakland face five times more toxic pollution per person than residents of the city of Oakland. Children in West Oakland are seven times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than the average child in the state of California. Nearly 82% of those who live in West Oakland are within 1/8 mile of an industrial area. A 2002 survey found only 31% of area residents can afford the median rent on available housing units.
Through measuring environmental indicators and building coalitions with neighborhood organizations, the Pacific Institute has taken great strides in exposing the disproportionate pollution faced by West Oakland Residents. Our research has been captured in reports such as Neighborhood Knowledge for
Change, Clearing the Air: Reducing Diesel Pollution in West Oakland, and Paying With Our Health: The Real Cost of Freight Transport in California.
In 2003, the Pacific Institute and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project scored a major victory with the closure of Red Star Yeast, The largest fixed source of toxic air pollution in West Oakland. The Institute identified the factory as a major source of toxic air pollution in "Neighborhood Knowledge for Change."
Along with researching and publishing the information, the Pacific Institute is providing training and support to grassroots activists working in West Oakland so they can use the research to make their case and maintain the indicators information.
An outgrowth of the Institute's efforts, the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project is now an autonomous organization. The two organizations continue to work closely.
West Contra Costa County Neighborhood Indicators Project