‘Grassroots’ Looks Like This

by CalWatchdog Staff | January 17, 2012 1:39 pm

Katy Grimes: TIME[1] magazine recently announced the 2011 Person of the Year [2]was “the Protestor.” American protestors conjure up all kinds of images, from the Occupy Wall Street Protestors, striking union nurses, teamsters, to university students occupying the library at UC Berkeley.

The average American can’t fathom the kinds of issues and protests people in other countries face. “The stakes are very different in different places. In North America and most of Europe, there are no dictators, and dissidents don’t get tortured. Any day that Tunisians, Egyptians or Syrians occupy streets and squares, they know that some of them might be beaten or shot, not just pepper-sprayed or flex-cuffed,” reported the TIME story[3].

While there are no dictators in America, and dissidents are not usually tortured, there are protestors who seem to make a career of protesting – animal rights protestors, environmentalists living in trees, union-sponsored picketers outside of non-union businesses, and the almost daily SEIU members protesting something at the state Capitol.

Rarely do Americans see passionate protestors that aren’t sponsored by some political party or labor union.

Californians should take notice of a large group of protestors from Chino Hills, who traveled from the Southern California city to Sacramento today to meet with Capitol legislators. The group is hoping to gain more attention and help in their fight against mega-utility company, Southern California Edison, over the installation of 3.5 miles of 200 foot monster electrical towers erected within only feet of residences.

More than 75 residents were confirmed to make the 416 mile trip north to represent the community.

But it doesn’t end with a visit and tour of the state’s Capitol. Tomorrow, members of Hope For The Hills[4] will travel to San Francisco to attend a hearing at the California Public Utility Commission[5], about the future of the Southern California Edison Tehachapi Transmission project[6]. SCE and the CPUC will appear before an Administrative Law Judge to begin review of SCE’s response to a PUC Commissioner’s Ruling on the transmission project.[7]

Chino Hills residents will be observing the meeting and are staging a protest.

Moms, dads, husbands and wives, single men and women, grandparents and college students, have been fighting for several years to stop the installation of the mega-towers near homes, and instead have the towers re-routed to the nearby state park[8]. They are not asking for the end of the project – but just want the towers moved away from their homes.

In October 2010, Southern California Edison[9] (SCE) contractors began removing the old, mostly idle, 200 kilovolt[10] (kV) transmission lines from an easement running through Chino Hills, and immediately began installation of the new, 200 foot towers,with 500 kV transmission lines. Residents immediately contacted SCE worried that the power towers were too close to homes, and concerned about living so closely to beefed-up electro-magnetic frequencies and radiation.

The Chino Hills residents have been persistent in their quest. Despite many setbacks and legal decisions rendered in the utility’s favor, as well as a few wins for the community, the Hope For the Hills [11]crew has functioned entirely as a grassroots operation with no outside funding, no union backup, and no political help. The only help they’ve had has been from the city of Chino Hills, which has spent $2 million on legal fees for its own fight against SCE over the towers. The residents have waged the fight with sheer willpower and determination, and with a love of community rarely seen these days.

This is no whining group of NIMBYs[12]. In October, I traveled to Chino Hills to see for myself just how bad the situation was. I had seen photos of the monster towers. I had written stories of the resident’s plight. I followed the hearings, and read the legal documents. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know how bad.


When I stood at the base of the electrical towers just outside of Joanne’s home, and near the monster tower erected in the middle of the nearby city park where kids were playing soccer, and on top of a hill in a lovely residential development, I was stunned and disgusted.

I thought of the increased electrical current that would run through the monster lines when the towers went live. I thought of the plummeting home prices when residents tried to sell. I started to imagine a once-beautiful bedroom community turning into a wasteland as residents opted to leave rather than stay and wonder about future potential health issues and home values.

But the project seems to be a done deal. Members of Hope For The Hills report that they have been told by several SCE insiders that the utility agreed long ago to build the towers, and have no intention of altering the plan. Some say that there was a contract signed with a cellular company for use of the towers. Others says that because the California Renewable Energy Portfolio was passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, no California officials are going to help stop it. And others report that the project has been partially funded with federal stimulus money, which SCE doesn’t want to return.

The Tehachapi Transmission Project feels similar to the High-Speed Rail project. Despite the outrageous and increasing costs, lack of ridership, ongoing long-term debt, California officials seem unable to stop it.

One Chino Hills resident wrote on the Hope For the Hills Facebook page[14].”As many celebrate MLK day, the quote on our website comes to mind; ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ We need to all join hands in front of the CPUC and become one big chain that cannot and will not be broken. The Chain of Chino Hills! We can and will do this!”

JAN. 17, 2012


  1. TIME: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132_2102373,00.html%20#ixzz1jkAo21tC
  2. 2011 Person of the Year : http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132_2102373,00.html
  3. TIME story: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132_2102373,00.html%20#ixzz1jkAo21tC
  4. Hope For The Hills: http://www.hopeforthehills.org/
  5. California Public Utility Commission: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/
  6. Tehachapi Transmission project: ftp://ftp.cpuc.ca.gov/gopher-data/environ/tehachapi_renewables/TRTP.htm
  7. PUC Commissioner’s Ruling on the transmission project.: http://www.chinohills.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID=2833
  8. towers re-routed to the nearby state park: http://leonavalleytowncouncil.org/Documents/Chino%20Hills%20Brief.pdf
  9. Southern California Edison: http://www.sce.com/PowerandEnvironment/Transmission/CurrentProjects/TRTP4-11/approval.htm
  10. kilovolt: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/kilovolt
  11. Hope For the Hills : http://www.hopeforthehills.org/News_and_links.html
  12. NIMBYs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NIMBY
  13. [Image]: http://www.calwatchdog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_0131.jpg
  14. Hope For the Hills Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-SCE-Power-Lines-in-Chino-Hills/177745945614678

Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2012/01/17/grassroots-looks-like-this/