Chris Sanchez, a long-time resident and active community member of Hacienda Heights, CA, sits for a portrait in the park at the Hacienda Heights Community Center.

Chris Sanchez

The Community Advocate

When Chris Sanchez moved to Hacienda Heights 47 years ago, the first call she made from her new home was to her mother. “I told her, ‘you can hear the cows mooing in the background’,” she says. “It was so green and beautiful here.” Ten years later, the open land near her house would be sold to the county to create the biggest landfill in the U.S. This awareness jumpstarted Chris’ volunteering for the LA County fourth supervisorial district, where she worked hard to inform the public about the possible risks of living near the Puente Hills landfill and help residents connect with county health and emergency services, among others. In recent years, she’s been invested in the creation of a new community center in Hacienda Heights which was envisioned as a way to mitigate the impact the landfill had had on residents’ health and area property values. “We had focused meetings with the community and asked them what they wanted,” says Chris, about the long process. Three years ago, the center opened its doors. It has an auditorium, a basketball court, meeting rooms, computer and dance classes and an outdoor concert area. She’s still regularly involved with the community center, which she hopes will someday feature a mural showing the nearby mountains as they were --before the landfill came.