In addition to supporting neighborhood-based Green Zone strategies, the Green Zones Initiative believes that effective and community-driven solutions for environmental justice should also be advanced at the statewide level.
In 2016, CEJA succeeded in getting two groundbreaking Green Zones bills, AB 2722 (Burke) and SB 1000 (Leyva), signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Since the passage of both bills, CEJA staff, members, and partners have been actively engaged in the implementation of both new policies to ensure these statewide efforts are directly connected to local community priorities.
AB 2722: Transformative Climate Communities (TCC)
Since one main focus of the Green Zones Initiative is to channel greater public resources into community leadership and EJ solutions, CEJA and the Greenlining Institute co-sponsored AB 2722 to fund comprehensive EJ solutions led by frontline communities. AB 2722 created the TCC program, a groundbreaking new program that reduces greenhouse gases while achieving important economic, environmental, and public health benefits in our state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. The program’s high emphasis on community engagement and multiagency coordination stands out among all state programs. By directing large-scale funding to comprehensive plans at the neighborhood level, TCC breaks down silos to address multiple EJ issues , while lifting up community-led solutions that address residents’ needs.
In order to create a robust program, CEJA provided critical feedback during the public process to develop and strengthen the TCC guidelines. As a result of our efforts, strong community engagement, displacement avoidance safeguards, and more equitable eligibility requirements were included in the final version of the guidelines.
In January 2018, the Strategic Growth Council,announced the winners of the state’s first round of implementation and planning grants. We were pleased to see $70 million awarded to the city of Fresno for their proposal that was developed by Southwest Fresno leaders. The community’s proposal seeks to address decades of neglect by investing a majority of the funds for projects in California’s most disproportionately polluted neighborhoods.
Community leaders, with support from Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and Fresno Building Healthy Communities (BHC), were also instrumental in ensuring a participatory process that led to the development of the final list of projects for Fresno’s TCC grant application. We were also excited to see $35 million awarded to the city of Ontario for the Ontario Connects plan, a project supported by a multi-stakeholder coalition that included CCAEJ. This plan builds upon previous community-building efforts to provide a mobility hub, affordable housing, electric buses, active transportation infrastructure, and urban greening for the Inland Valley.
While not awarded an implementation grant, South LA’s TCC plan remains a strong example of what community-led Green Zones can look like for the Los Angeles region. Led by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city of Los Angeles, and the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone, with input and direction from members of the Los Angeles Equity Alliance (including SCOPE, T.R.U.S.T. South LA, SAJE, and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust), the plan creates much needed green space and an enhanced active transportation corridor along a 5.6-mile stretch of Slauson Avenue. The plan would transform an abandoned railroad line into a green corridor and community space that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit access and mobility, and provide creative programming to promote resident health and EJ.
SGC also awarded 10 planning grants to EJ communities that could be eligible for future TCC implementation grants or other California Climate Investments programs. CEJA was pleased to see funds awarded to East and West Oakland, Stockton, and the Coachella Valley region. CBE and Leadership Counsel were instrumental in supporting the winning East Oakland and Coachella planning grants, respectively.
SB 1000: Planning for Healthy Communities
Another Green Zones bill that promotes better planning and protections for EJ communities is SB 1000, the Planning for Healthy Communities Act. CEJA and CCAEJ were co-sponsors of this bill that aimed to address historic inequities in planning due to poor land use decisions, disinvestment, and discrimination. The bill was inspired by both EHC’s advocacy for National City’s Health and EJ element — the very first EJ element in California — and CCAEJ’s work on the city of Jurupa Valley’s EJ element.
SB 1000 requires that all cities and counties create an EJ element, or integrate environmental justice throughout their General Plans, if they contain disadvantaged communities. The law provides the following mandates for including EJ goals, policies, and objectives in their General Plans:
- Reduce the unique and compounded health risks in disadvantaged communities by reducing pollution exposure and improving air quality, while also promoting better public facilities, food access, safe and sanitary homes, and physical activity.
- Promote community engagement in the public decision-making process.
- Prioritize improvements and programs that address the needs of disadvantaged communities.
In 2017, CEJA partnered with PlaceWorks to create and release the SB 1000 Implementation Toolkit. The toolkit lifts up effective environmental justice planning methods and provides resources and guidance for those interested in bringing SB 1000 to their communities.In 2018, CEJA also worked with numerous community-based organizations to lead a series of SB 1000 community workshops for planners, local government, advocates, and residents. The workshops educated participants on the SB 1000 law, the importance of planning for environmental justice.
Both the TCC program and SB 1000 advance Green Zones goals to provide healthy, safe, and thriving neighborhoods for those who have been disproportionately impacted by pollution and poverty. By winning comprehensive and community-led solutions for environmental justice, CEJA has become a leader at the forefront of the movement to advance EJ in state policy.
For more information on the SB 1000 Implementation Toolkit, please see: http://www.caleja.org/sb1000-toolkit