I ran for office here in Santa Ana because I love this city and its people.

I’m writing this message to you today because the residents of this amazing city are in serious danger, and I need the community’s help to ensure our city takes the actions needed to protect them.

Right now, as you’re reading this, there are children in our city who are playing in soil with hazardous levels of lead. Researchers have shown that nearly a quarter of the land in our city is contaminated with enough of this toxin to cause serious neurological issues in children, with some places showing levels of lead 25 times higher than what is considered safe for children. 

That’s unacceptable – and it’s also not the only environmental threat facing our community.

Large portions of our community rely on methane gas for cooking and heating, yet an analysis of dozens of studies found that burning gas in your home led to a 42% increase in asthma symptoms. Methane gas is also a major contributor to climate change and – as I’m sure many of you have noticed – our summers have been getting hotter and hotter. This is increasing the amount of heat related illnesses and forcing those of us lucky enough to have air conditioning to spend more money just to stay cool.

In case that wasn’t worrying enough, a recent study from the University of Notre Dame found that our city was one of the most at risk and least ready to address the climate crisis.

None of it has to be this way. And with your support, none of it will be.

On May 18th, with the support of nearly a dozen community groups, I will be bringing a climate and public health emergency before the Santa Ana City Council. I’ve worked hard with these groups to ensure that this resolution includes concrete steps and actions that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, remove lead from soil, expand green spaces, and bring sustainable jobs into our community.

It will also make our city a global leader, by making us the second city in the United States to endorse the call for a much needed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to address the climate crisis with the scale and urgency we need.

With COVID-related economic relief and a massive green infrastructure bill incoming, it is essential that we pass this resolution as soon as possible and ensure that we have shovel ready jobs that can improve the quality of life for Santa Ana residents.

There is no excuse for allowing our children to grow up playing in soil contaminated with lead, breathing air poisoned by fossil fuels, and suffering from heat waves and wildfires. 

Now is the time to change the trajectory our city is on and create the healthy, vibrant community I know Santa Ana can be. Together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

Jessie Lopez is a lifelong Santa Ana resident and has been a community advocate for the past several years. She sits on the Santa Ana City Council, where she brings the voice of Ward 3 residents to the forefront.

Go here to read this in Spanish: https://voiceofoc.org/2021/05/lopez-santa-ana-tiene-que-proteger-a-sus-residentes-del-plomo-los-combustibles-fosiles-y-el-cambio-climatico/

Opinions expressed in community opinion pieces belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please email opinions@voiceofoc.org.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.