Town meeting in Spanish

first_imgSUN VALLEY – At a public meeting early this year, some residents will listen as Bradley Landfill managers explain – in Spanish – their proposal to expand the dump, or relleno sanitario, while their English-speaking neighbors will slip on headphones for translation. Holding a public meeting in Spanish with English translation is rare, but observers say this bilingual outreach is a necessity. Nearly 25 percent of Sun Valley residents speak little or no English – and the number is probably higher in the neighborhoods closest to the landfill and most impacted by the proposed expansion. “In Sun Valley, particularly with this project, the community is very concerned about what’s going on and they want to be better informed. The best way to be informed is through your own language,” said Delia Torres, a longtime interpreter for the city who has been hired by Waste Management, the dump’s owner. The meeting has not yet been scheduled, but organizers say it likely will be held in early February. In addition to providing translations at public meetings, Torres translated into Spanish the 30-page summary of the project’s environmental impact report – a first for a project in the city of Los Angeles. The extensive Spanish-language outreach is essential for a well-informed community, but it also reflects a change in decision-making tactics from a time when political leaders made decisions without community input, said Manuel Pastor, a professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has studied environmental justice issues related to landfills and trash facilities. “People organize. If you’ve got a landfill in a neighborhood filled with people who speak Spanish and you think they’re going to be politically active on the issue, then you better start speaking it.” Under its proposal, Waste Management would raise the elevation of the landfill by 43 feet and expand its capacity by 4.7 million cubic yards, or about 10 percent. The dump would still close in April 2007 as currently planned. The company also wants to build a permanent sorting facility, where recyclables are separated from refuse, and a transfer station capable of handling 7,000 tons of garbage per day. Waste Management began studying the environmental impacts of the project in 2002. The technical report is more than 500 pages and details how the project would change the aesthetics of the community and how much air pollution and traffic would be created by the expansion and new facility. The report is set to be released this month. Community activists pushed for a full environmental report in Spanish so that Sun Valley residents could understand and raise concerns about the landfill expansion. City planning staffers were reluctant to order the translation, so Waste Management agreed to translate the report’s executive summary. Such environmental reports are difficult to read and understand even in English. The technical report will be even harder to digest for people who are learning English as a second language, said the Rev. Richard Zanotti, pastor of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Sun Valley and a member of One-LA, a grass-roots community group. “This will give them an opportunity to comment. They’ll feel freer in expressing themselves.” Waste Management offered Spanish interpretation in the past, but managers haven’t considered translation a priority until recently, said Doug Corcoran, district manager. Now the company realizes it needs to make its Spanish-speaking neighbors comfortable so they’ll be more willing to learn about the proposed landfill expansion. “We’re basically pinning the success of this project on effectively communicating why it’s a good thing, in the big picture, for the community and Sun Valley.” Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *