The story of Oscar Rodriguez’s early connections to Huntington Beach are not much different amongst working-class immigrant families which for many involve traveling long distances, working long hours and in most cases, unequal pay.
Oscar was born in East Los Angeles and spent the first four years of his life there. His father commuted to Huntington Beach every day for work in a manufacturing company. When Oscar was four, his parents decided that the commute was too draining for his father, so they relocated into a two-bedroom apartment in the Oak View Community. Moving to Huntington Beach was the best decision his parents have ever made, living in a small but resilient community in Huntington Beach bounded by 8.5 miles of beautiful coastline allowed Oscar to develop a passion for advocacy. Since then, he has called Huntington Beach his home and continues his advocacy in community solidarity and activism. Oscar’s father continued to work for that manufacturing company until 2010, when the company was sold to new owners who outsourced his position.
Photo Credit: Mark Bixby
Oscar attended local public schools and has a profound gratitude that his family and teachers set a high standard for him to reach his potential. Oscar became the first in his family to graduate from high school and he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Administration from California State University, Long Beach.
Oscar’s advocacy took off in 2015 when he co-founded Oak View ComUNIDAD, a local grassroots group that focuses on directly addressing the needs of marginalized neighborhoods throughout Huntington Beach.
Oscar and his neighbors took on Rainbow Environmental Services, which operated an unenclosed transfer station just yards from his local elementary school and community. With the help of the Ocean View School District's legal team, teachers and community members, Oak View ComUNIDAD achieved its first victory: Rainbow Environmental Services settled a lawsuit and had to retrofit their facility and pay millions in fines. In addition, Rainbow contributed 4 million dollars to build a school gym for the students and community to enjoy. Oak View ComUNIDAD played an important role in educating community members on how to properly file a complaint with South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), how to do their own air testing, and to speak up at city council meetings.
Photo Credit: Mark Bixby
Oak View ComUNIDAD protest against Rainbow Environmental Services in 2015
In 2013, Oscar received the Spirit of Volunteerism award from OneOC for volunteering hundreds of hours in his neighborhood while in high school with a local nonprofit.
In 2016, Oscar was named one of Orange County’s “Most Influential” for his work in Co-Founding Oak View ComUNIDAD.
In 2016, Oscar received the Environmental Justice award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District for his work with community members during the battle with Rainbow Environmental Services.
As Huntington Beach continues to grow, the community spirit that convinced Oscar’s parents to relocate to this beautiful city, must continue to ensure a vision that every policy, decision making, and action is fair, equitable and just for all residents.
Photo Credit: OneOC
Oscar speaking with volunteers in 2013
Oscar recently joined the South Coast Air Quality Management District Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which advises the district on environmental justice issues in local communities.
Oscar is currently an Asset Manager for Orange County Community Housing Corporation, a affordable housing non-profit overseeing hundreds of units throughout Orange County.
Oscar has been the Operations Officer for the Oak View Youth Soccer League in Huntington Beach since 2005. The OVYSL provides affordable soccer opportunities for socioeconomically disadvantaged youth. Oscar plays a pivotal role in building relationships with community groups in order to provide these opportunities to local children. OVYSL's operations have been placed on hold due to COVID19.
Oscar continues to volunteer with Oak View ComUNIDAD where he focuses on a broad spectrum of issues that affect the local community such as housing discrimination, immigration rights, tenant protections, code enforcement compliance and more currently, food insecurity.