Thought Leadership

Northeast Los Angeles – Eastside Sol, my community, our air


By Vallerie Gonzalez

February 28, 2018

Clean Vehicle Rebate Project takes electric vehicle test drives to inner city

Eastside Sol, a festive annual celebration of community and sustainability in Boyle Heights is a harmonious affair that always leads to fun and a treasured community gathering in Northeast Los Angeles (NELA).

As the daughter of Guatemalan and Mexican immigrants who met in Echo Park in the late 1960s, my roots are imbedded in NELA’s emergence. I felt fortunate to grow up in inner-city Los Angeles, which gave me access to places steeped in traditional ethnic roots and an eclectic circle of people and family to be my friends and role models.

However, within our community of NELA, came health disadvantages that I did not know about while growing up. Living within a few blocks of several freeways for most of my life, I remember in the 1990s not being able to see LA’s downtown skyscrapers that are only four miles from my home. I do recall hot summer days when I wasn’t allowed to go outside to play because of heavy air pollution and knew it was not a good way for children, or adults for that matter, to live.

Times are different today — I can see those downtown skyscrapers every day because of life style changes made by many individuals committed to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. People in our community, the surrounding city and the state took actions to curb pollution, and it has made a significant difference.

View CVRP at Eastside Sol 2017 . . .

. . . Visit us at our next community event

Even though electric cars are becoming more mainstream in major California cities, there remain many misconceptions about their benefits and costs. As a community outreach coordinator on CSE’s Clean Transportation team, I have firsthand experience hearing about the numerous misconceptions held by residents, even in the most pollution-burdened communities in California. I encourage them to learn more about the many environmental and economic benefits of driving electric, starting with programs like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and Replace Your Ride that help drive down electric vehicle (EV) acquisition costs.

It was an exciting opportunity to bring EVs for test drives to Eastside Sol and the Boyle Heights community where locals could experience how much fun EVs are to drive, see the variety of models available and learn how they can save money with rebates, and help clean the air – all at the same time. Most of the test-drivers had never been in an electric car, including mi mami.

Knowledge is power, and I couldn’t have found a more exciting way to spread my environmental passion to the community where I have strong embedded roots and that I love.

CSE thanks Eastside Sol Committee and Legacy LA youth council members for conducting community outreach to help get NELA community members to take EV test drives.

For more on Eastside Sol 2017, read about it in the Huffington Post.

Video courtesy of Jorge Madrid, Environmental Defense Fund

Vallerie Gonzalez

Senior Coordinator

Vallerie is part of CSE's marketing team for California’s Clean Vehicle Research Project.

Read more by Vallerie Gonzalez