East Oakland group aims to tackle air quality issues in community

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A group of East Oakland residents are hoping to help their neighbors breathe a little easier.

They are partnering with community and local agencies to tackle air quality issues in an area that’s long struggled with high pollution levels.

“We deserve to breathe fresh clean air just like others,” said East Oakland CBE community organizer Adele Watts. “Air quality in East Oakland is a huge issue, we have some of the worst air quality in the state of California.”

A state map shows East Oakland is disproportionately impacted by high rates of pollution compared to other Bay Area cities.

Watts points to industrial businesses, the Oakland Airport and a truck ban diverting large trucks from Interstate 580 to Interstate 880. She added the result is higher rates of asthma in children.

“Our health is at risk on a daily basis because of the conditions in our community and that is not OK,” Watts said. “We know who lives in deep East Oakland, primarily Black and Brown folks, those are the people being impacted.”

Nonprofit CBE is trying to change that by reducing industrial pollution and stopping the Oakland Airport expansion.

Most recently, they’re partnering with community members to develop a five-year plan to reduce emissions by creating the highest standards possible.

“These solutions are coming from community because again, we are the ones being impacted,” Watts said.

Reginald Jackson and his family has lived in East Oakland for multiple generations. He said he can tell the difference in air quality when he travels to different parts of the city.

“The air smells more toxic then if I was to go towards downtown or somewhere, it’s more clean, its more fresh, it’s like a different environment but we are in the same city,” Jackson said.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District Is working with community groups to turn their plan into action- in a statement said in part: “East Oakland was selected amongst high priority communities in the bay area due to longstanding air quality challenges, environmental justice issues, and health inequities.”

The group plans to have recommendations by 2025 that will be implemented in partnership with the air district and government agencies.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.