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Improving East Oakland: DTSC Joins With EJ Community, Police, Fire, Building Services

Government staffers from local, state and regional organizations are working together to help resolve environmental issues that have been raised by residents in East Oakland’s Elmhurst area.

I n the Elmhurst area of East Oakland, a group of determined residents has been working on blight issues and cleanup and development of sites since 1994.

DTSC Enforcement staff joined with the group, called the Elmhurst Blight Committee, in 2009 and quickly learned that environmental concerns in East Oakland run the gamut from auto repair shops with suspect handling of toxic materials to questions about thorough cleanup of old industrial sites and reports of “blood water” coming from a metal recycling facility. Jacquee Castain, head of the Elmhurst Blight Committee, was forthright about the issues and made sure DTSC returned in 100 days, as promised, to tell community members what had been done to address the issues pointed out during a May 8, 2009, bus tour.

tour, of a business. It was an illegal automotive paint shop operating without air pollution control equipment, which meant toxic car paint fumes were being released next to homes. There also was no visible evidence of worker safety equipment, and a guard dog was seemingly passed out on the pavement.

Of The Sites Of Community Concern, Only 2 Were Free Of Environmental Violations


DTSC and other government entities have been returning to the area ever since. The East Oakland effort is notable for the breadth of city government entities that are actively involved. It is the first DTSC EJ Initiative location that includes the local police department, which has helped roust prostitutes and curtail drug dealing in the vicinity of the environmentally suspect repair shops . The East Oakland bus tour was the first DTSC EJ Initiative that saw the shutdown, during the


Sites w/ violations


Sites w/ ongoing


work Sites w/ no

violations Other

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    Local organic farmers provided raised beds and clean

soil for a garden that the community wanted to establish on the site of a former battery factory.


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