A ‘Toxic Tour’ of Los Angeles’ dirty secrets
Whether you want to see the multi-million dollar home of a Hollywood celebrity or the scene of an infamous crime, Los Angeles has a guided tour to suit almost every taste.Updated: Aug 16, 2008 00:08 IST
Whether you want to see the multi-million dollar home of a Hollywood celebrity or the scene of an infamous crime, Los Angeles has a guided tour to suit almost every taste.
But away from the well-worn tourist routes of Beverly Hills and Hollywood, Robert Cabrales is preparing to take a bus-load of sightseers on a journey that he says aims to expose the city’s “dirty little secrets”.
Organised by the advocacy group Communities for a Better Environment (CBECAL), the ‘Toxic Tour’ takes eco-tourists through the sights and smells of some of Los Angeles’ most notorious environmental black spots.
“The purpose is mainly to let people know that there is something going on here, which is the dirty little secrets that pretty much most people don’t know about,” Cabrales says. Launched in 2007, the tour departs several times a month, ferrying anyone from environmentally conscious tourists to schoolchildren, activists and even government officials.
Cabrales said the tour aims to shine a light on the “environmental injustices” of Los Angeles, where residents in poorer neighbourhoods live in close proximity to heavy industry.
Among the tour’s stops are the former site of ‘La Montana’ — a vast mountain of concrete rubble left over from the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake that for several years was deposited next to a strip of family homes.
It was nearly a decade before the rubble mountain — blamed for worsening air quality and a spike in respiratory illnesses in the adjacent neighborhood — was removed, and only then after a city council member called on to inspect the site had suffered a severe asthma attack and a collapsed lung as a result.
Cabrales says Huntington Park is known as ‘Asthma Town’ because of its high asthma rates amongst children. He says the community suffers because it is surrounded on three sides by the Vernon, which is almost exclusively an industrial district.
“If your average tourist or Los Angeles resident saw what we saw I think they’d have more of an appreciation, and also of what organised community action can do,” said tour group member Patrick Becknell.