Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem
News: Coalition seeks investigation of casino's handling of asbestos
January 5, 2000
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The Coalition for Justice today asked environmental officials to investigate the handling of asbestos in the demolition of a structure near a school. The coalition has learned that, despite the known presence of asbestos, Hawaiian Gardens officials allowed the politically powerful Hawaiian Gardens Casino to demolish the structure, a donut stand at 11913 1/2 Carson Street, without the notification and documents required by state and federal laws regulating asbestos.
The Coalition has been trying to help the donut stand proprietor through the trauma of a December 28th eviction (photos available), which left seven people jobless and Hawaiian Gardens without one of its most popular gathering places. On the 28th, Coalition members asked city officials for a few days to find a place to put the easily movable structure and were told that no demolition permit had been issued. But on Friday, the casino tore down the structure, apparently to complete work on its parking lot.
"We are appalled at this high-handed disregard by a wealthy developer," said Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, coordinator of the multi-ethnic Coalition for Justice that is campaigning against the granting of a permanent casino license to developer Irving Moskowitz.
The Coalition understands that the casino had the asbestos removed without filing the required notice with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). State law forbids cities to issue demolition permits until the property owner produces a copy of the asbestos notification to the appropriate state agency, in this case the AQMD, at least ten days before commencing work that may dislodge asbestos. (On December 22nd, nine days before the demolition, a contractor told a video crew working for the coalition that the site hadn't even been tested for asbestos yet!).
The city also did not issue a written permit before the demolition took place. A coalition activist observed paving activities going on over the New Year's holiday.
Unlike the donut shop, which drew the locals of this working-class town for good coffee and conversation, the casino aims to attract well-heeled patrons off the 605 Freeway. And, while casino owner Irving Moskowitz won voters' approval of the casino with the promise of local employment, residents now say they're only getting janitorial jobs at the business, which has been heavily subsidized by the city's redevelopment agency.
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