Marissa Pianko

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Marissa Pianko is freelance investigative journalist, particularly interested in environmental issues. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Southern California and has a background in forensic accounting and finance. She is a contributing writer for the online publication Circling The News.

Affordable Housing Developers Set their Sights on Former Toxic Oil Fields in LA

Read time: 14 mins
 Resident and activist Brenda Valdivia stands in front of the 120-unit development by Aragon Holdings. She holds a photo circa 1895-1901 of that area when it was the Los Angeles City Oil Field

Photography by Peter Bennett

On a busy corner in Vista Hermosa, a neighborhood just west of downtown Los Angeles, early signs of construction have begun on a 7-story, 64-unit apartment building called Firmin Court. The project’s developer, the Decro Group, has pledged that the new building, which is one of six active multi-family developments under construction in a five-block radius, will provide supportive and affordable housing for “chronically homeless individuals, persons at risk of becoming homeless, and low-income families.”

At a time where affordable housing ranks as a top concern for Angelenos, many see projects like these as signs of progress.

California Lagged in Capping Century-old Oil Wells Leaking Under Homes of LA Residents Plagued by Illness and Odors

Read time: 15 mins
Roger Majano and Rosalinda Morales in front of an oil storage tank in LA

On November 28, 2015, Roger Majano, plagued by a noxious smell overwhelming his Los Angeles neighborhood, heaved a jackhammer onto the walkway in front of his property at 323 Firmin Street. It was the dead of night, but Majano had run out of patience trying to get to the bottom of the sickening and persistent smell.

What he found, two days later, would eventually confirm his fears and frustrations surrounding an environmental and public health risk haunting the City of Angels. Under his property, Majano had discovered an ancient oil well, leaking potentially toxic gases.