EcoJustice Radio – Expanding Suburbs at Expense of Health, Environment, & Resources

On this episode of EcoJustice Radio on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles, Adventures in Waste Founder Jessica Aldridge interviews Dr. Nick Jensen, of California Native Plant Society and Urban Planner Jack Eidt of SoCal 350 Climate Action.

The Centennial Project – Expanding Suburbs At The Expense of Health, Environment, & Resources

Hosted/written by Jessica Aldridge of Adventures in Waste and Co-founder of SoCal 350

This episode expands the conversation outside the normal boundaries of WASTE. When we look to the philosophy of Zero Waste, we must examine all facets of resource depletion and disposal. Urban sprawl development projects might not seem an obvious connection, but these plans present an extreme direct (and indirect) need for excess resources and building materials such as asphalt, concrete, copper, plastics and more. They require further out and additional waste management transportation negatively affecting already compromised air quality. Large projects threaten to drastically increase car traffic and freeway expansion. They impede and/or destroy existing habitats, wildlife corridors, migration routes, foraging opportunities, and long-term livelihood of flora and fauna. Supporting zero waste cities and economies means questioning projects that don’t uphold all the pillars of Zero Waste including: “conserve and recover all resources” and “eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.” Although not directly stated, this message is embedded in the overall episode.

As part of the incessant need for what some people call “growth” we inevitably destroy resources, especially when that “growth” happens to be sprawling land development. Is this type of growth necessary? Will it provide real housing opportunities to those most in need? However, when a development project does not make common sense, when it invades ecological integrity, destroys irreplaceable resources, and it puts people in harm’s way, should the project be sent back for review.

Tejon Ranch Centennial Specific Plan (or Centennial) is a massive planned city in a wilderness of grasslands and mountains, a residential and commercial development in LA County, 70 miles NW of DTLA. It is located off Hwy 138 near Interstate 5, close to Gorman a small town with limited amenities. The Centennial project sits upon 270,000 acres of private property where they want to build 20K homes and 10 million sf of commercial and retail space (although a hospital does not exist in the current plan). The planning of Centennial began 20 years ago, but its approval is due for vote by the LA County Board of Supervisors on December 11th. (Sign the petition here. Identify your Board Supervisor or get info on the hearing here.) However, does this desire to expand Southern California sprawl come with great impact to environment and human health? Our speakers have been researching and working on these issues for quite some time.

Our EcoJustice radio guests are Dr. Nick Jensen, Southern CA Conservation Analyst for California Native Plant Society and Jack Eidt Urban Planner and co-founder of SoCal 350 Climate Action.



“30,000 acres of this rare ecosystem is under threat by the publicly traded Tejon Ranch Company’s Tejon Ranch Centennial Specific Plan, which in addition to multiple proposals for commercial and residential development, proposes the construction of a new city with more than 19,000 residences and 10.2 million square feet of commercial development.” SoCal 350


Dr. Nick Jensen, Southern California Conservation Analyst for California Native Plant Society, coordinates the activities of the Conservation Program in Southern California. Nick earned his BS degree in Environmental Horticulture at UC Davis, and completed his PhD in botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden/Claremont Graduate University. As a graduate student Nick produced the first Flora of Tejon Ranch and studied evolutionary patterns in perennial jewelflowers. He has also worked as a botanist for the U.S. Forest Service, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the private consulting industry. Nick is a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. @californianativeplantsociety

Jack Eidt, Director of Wild Heritage Planners, Co-Founder of SoCal 350, and publisher of the environmental blog As an urban planner and environmental analyst, he worked on projects as varied as The Disneyland Resort and a golf course for the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. He has advocated with community groups in Southern California to protect environmentally sensitive habitats and biodiverse ecosystems from real estate developments and toll roads. As an urban theorist and environmental journalist, he has investigated how cities can be rewilded, and how humans can adapt in a regenerative way to a changing planet. @wilderutopia

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