Oral Histories

Interview of Mark Gold

Associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA.
Collings, Jane
Gold, Mark
Persons Present:
Gold and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Gold's office at UCLA in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, principal editor and interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., Critical Studies in Film and Television, UCLA. Collings prepared for the interview by attending the panel discussion series Just Add Water, co-sponsored by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and reading relevant primary and secondary sources, among them the “Aqueduct at 100” issue of Boom: a Journal of California.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Gold was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
1.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.Additional partially processed interviews are available through Library Special Collections.
Early life and family--Early enjoyment of the Santa Monica Bay--Majors in environmental studies--Meets Dorothy Green and joins Heal the Bay (HTB)--Becomes associate director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA--Credits mother’s emphasis on making a difference for goals he set--Dorothy Green’s enormous faith in volunteers’ abilities--Testifies at a Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing as a young volunteer--More on Dorothy Green’s work with volunteers--Green’s honesty--The attraction of the Santa Monica Bay as an emotional touchstone for volunteers--Advent of the organization HTB--Howard Bennett’s role in starting HTB--Felicia Marcus--Joel Reynolds--HTB’s role in the legal battle in which the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant was seeking a waiver from the Clean Water Act--In 1982 gubernatorial race George Deukmejian campaigns against Tom Bradley on the environmental issues in Santa Monica Bay--Judge Harry Pregerson orders quarterly meetings between regulators, engineers, and HTB representatives on a consent decree regarding the problems at Hyperion--More on Felicia Marcus--The challenge of re-tooling the Hyperion plant--Don Smith--The good work at the Department of Public Works--The antiquated water supply infrastructure in LA--The existence of the Clean Water Act provides a legal tool for forcing compromise--The lack of legal tools for addressing infrastructure issues--More on meetings mandated under the consent decree--More on Don Smith’s commitment to clean water--Appreciation of LA County Sanitation District engineers for support of the changes mandated by the consent decree--Importance of offering constructive solutions to problems--The unique role of HTB in bringing research-based solutions to the table--The wide spectrum of approaches on the part of environmental groups--The genesis of the Beach Report Card initiative--The provisions of AB 411, the beach water monitoring program--The challenge of solving a significant pollution event at Huntington Beach--The decision to close Huntington Beach on Labor Day is front page news--Research to detect the source of the pollution--Dorothy Green’s idea of watershed management--LA’s unsustainable water supply situation--Water re-use projects in LA--The transitional point where LA became very bad at water re-use--Mayoral race between Joel Waxman and Richard Riordan focusses on concept of “toilet to tap” regarding re-use--Water recycling efforts in Southern California far outpace City of LA efforts--The imperative to conserve, recycle, and capture water in Southern California due to profound drought conditions and poor infrastructure--City of Santa Monica’s impressive record of groundwater management--Reasons why City of LA lags behind in groundwater management.
The fight for a reasonable total maximum daily load (TMDL) utilizes a previously ignored section of the Clean Water Act--A specific focus on storm water pollution--A lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency region 9 over the issue of TMDLs--Placing TMDLs into storm water permits creates mandatory watershed management--Success stories include dramatic improvement in beach water quality due to TMDL compliance--Federal foot dragging on the TMDL issue--Debate over the TMDL numbers--California’s history of being in the vanguard on environmentalism--Mary Nichols--Lackluster involvement of tourist industry in environmental issue--Relationships among various elements of the environmental community in Southern California--A variety of views among stakeholders on water crisis--The coordination of effort as a factor in success of the TMDL struggle--Coordinated activist response to the Ahmanson Ranch development--Proposition O, the Clean Water Bond--The Green LA initiative--Efficacy of the Watershed Council--The impact of the changing media landscape on environmental organizing--Lack of regular coverage of progressive news in LA--The impact of changing standards of civility on the work--Proposition O--Ronald F. Deaton’s role in pushing the City forward on water quality--Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry’s roles in moving forward on water quality issues--Lackluster support for Santa Monica’s Measure V, the Clean Beaches and Ocean Water Parcel Tax--Reluctance of LA city council to move forward on water quality--Assembly Bill 2403 opens the door for possible water supply improvement without a two-third vote--Gold’s involvement in Measure V campaign--Water supply issues going forward.