For the second time in as many weeks, residents of the Catalina/Second Street neighborhood have come before the (Whittier) City Council to express their dismay over recent city actions in their area. First, they complained about the Little League baseball area located in their neighborhood, and more recently they have protested the placement of a highly flammable gas pipeline near their homes. I would like to share a few thoughts on the manner in which our neighbors have been treated.
When we vote in local elections, marking our ballots is an act of faith and trust. We trust that our elected representatives will be concerned with the welfare of our residents, and we have faith they will act accordingly. In this case, this trust and faith have clearly been breached.
Years ago, our city drew up a plan to build a Little League baseball diamond by recycling the land contained in Phase I of our landfill. Phase I of our Waste Management Plan is now coming to a close, yet there has been no discussion of the baseball diamond. If the city had stuck to the plan, we could have Little League baseball and quiet neighborhoods. This vital peace of information was never released at the meeting the residents attended to air their views.
Now the city has given approval for the construction of a highly flammable gas pipeline through the neighborhood. True, the city met the requirements of the law: a microscopic public notice was placed in a local newspaper and a routine public hearing was conducted. Yet the council members certainly did not act as our representatives. The city could have conducted a phone survey of area residents, but it didn’t. The officials could have considered how they would have reacted if this pipeline had been placed in their neighborhood, but they didn’t.
When our public servants fail to serve the public, and our representatives fail to represent, something is desperately wrong. My heart goes out to our neighbors and friends near Catalina and Second. They have at least one thing going in their favor: they live in America, where arrogant officials can be promptly removed through a legal democratic process.