Last week, more than 100 community members joined a public workshop in Barrio Logan to tell the California Air Resources Board how climate change and air pollution impact everyday life in our neighborhoods.

ARB Workshop1

Mary Rose, a local resident, said, “Our friends in Sacremento don’t live in our neighborhoods, and they don’t understand what’s going on here. That’s why we’re having this meeting – so everyone can hear what it’s like to live here.”

At a series of table discussions, we told the California Air Resources Board that our communities need improved transit options and better air quality. We described how our neighborhoods are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change. We shared stories and brainstormed solutions. Now, our voices will be used to guide an update to statewide climate change policy.

Thank you for joining us on July 14. We are powerful when we come together to share, listen to each other and offer solutions to prioritize neighborhoods that need help the most.

ARB Workshop3

To continue making your voice heard, join us to thank the Air Resources Board for visiting Barrio Logan and other low-income communities of color to build policy that we can depend on for #healthyhoods. 

If you use Twitter, please click here to thank our leaders.

Want to learn more? Watch, read and listen to Executive Director Diane Takvorian discuss the harmful impacts of climate change in our communities witKPBS and San Diego Union-Tribune.

On July 14, we have the opportunity to talk about an issue that’s impacted all of us: climate change. For the first time in history, the California Air Resources Board will host a public workshop in Barrio Logan to openly discuss the effects of climate change on our communities, and it’s up to us to share our stories and make our voices heard.

viewfromthepatio

What we want the Air Resources Board to know:

What happens next?

The Air Resources Board hosts several more workshops in neighborhoods of color across California and uses community input to revise state laws on climate change and update the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Our job is to ensure new regulations prioritize neighborhoods hit first and worst by climate change.

Are you in?

Invite your friends, family and neighbors to attend this history-making workshop to make your voice heard for environmental justice.

Thursday, July 14 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Cesar E. Chavez Campus – San Diego Continuing Education, 1901 Main Street, San Diego, 92113.

Can’t make it? You can still make your voice heard.

If you use Twitter, please join us in thanking the Air Resources Board for coming to Barrio Logan and tell them about issues our communities face.

  • Tweet: Effects of #climatechange hit our communities hard. Thanks @AirResources for visiting #BarrioLogan to talk #climatejustice 
  • Tweet: #Climatejustice in #BarrioLogan matters to me because my kids deserve clean, safe places to play. @AirResources @ARBespanol 
  • Tweet: #Climatejustice means clean air, more transit options and renewable energy in our communities. @AirResources @ARBespanol

Meet the Built Environment Team.

EHC, in partnership with City Heights Community Development Corporation, International Rescue Committee and Proyecto de Casas Saludables, joined forces five years ago to develop an advocacy curriculum, identify advocacy priorities and develop strategies to meet the needs of City Heights residents.

The Built Environment Team was created to work with residents to develop the community driven action plan. This multi-year plan empowers local residents to be central leaders for change with the support of community organizations and existing leaders. Today, EHC continues to collaborate and co-facilitate the progress of the grassroots group.

EHC BET Justice copy

Over the past five years, EHC has collaborated with BET to accomplish key victories, including:

Through this leadership, we’ve established our community members as local leaders on mobility issues in City Heights.

Every week, diverse groups come together to advocate for justice in their neighborhood. They hold regular meetings to discuss important local issues in English, Spanish, Karen and Vietnamese.

Community members like Tunn, pictured below, step up to lead EHC’s community action teams. Tunn invites volunteers into his home for meetings and he writes poetry to raise awareness about causes that matter to his neighborhood.

BET Tunn Community Leader copy

We’re proud to see the Built Environment Team grow because we know community change starts with local leadership.

To get involved with the Built Environment Team, please contact us at 619-474-0220.

While pollution affects all of us, it hits low-income communities first and worst.

The City of San Diego has unveiled a plan to reduce our city's pollution over the next 50 years and in the spring of 2016, Mayor Kevin Faulconer released a strategy for meeting the plan's goals. 

The proposed plan lacks a strong focus on social equity – protecting our neighborhoods that already suffer disproportionately more than other neighborhoods.

That's why Policy Advocate Monique López delivered this letter to Mayor Faulconer on the importance of equity in San Diego's climate action plan, and now we want to share it with you.

CAP Rally opt

May, 2016

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City of San Diego
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Re: City of San Diego- Climate Action Plan Implementation Report

Dear Mayor Faulconer:

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) "Implementation Report" is a good first step describing the planned expenditures for each CAP strategy proposed for the FY 2017 budget. The plan asserts that more than $127 million will be dedicated to CAP implementation in FY 17.

However, an implementation road map that further defines what are all the activities that need to take place in the next five years, ten years, and fifteen years which goes beyond the year to year budget analysis is needed in order to ensure that the City is on a trajectory to meet its Climate Action Plan goals. Such an Implantation Plan can institutionalize practices in the various departments, and identify a timeline for ordinances and actions that need to be pursued.

What are the associated green-house gas reductions? An analysis should be provided that highlights where specifically these investments are being made and where greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced, in both the short term and long term.

Where is the equity? In the current Implementation Report, the social equity requirement in the CAP is not acknowledged nor is there an allocation of funds based on CalEnviro Screen or any other method of ensuring equitable distribution of resources. The impacts of a changing climate are most detrimental in neighborhoods such as Barrio Logan, City Heights, Sherman Heights, Logan Heights and San Ysidro that suffer from damaging air quality, burdensome energy bills and inaccessible public transit.

The CAP recognized these challenges and included a mandate to prioritize the most impacted communities for mitigation and investment. The CAP States, “The General Plan includes policies to pursue environmental justice in the planning process through greater community participation, to prioritize and allocate citywide resources to provide public facilities and services to communities in need, and to improve mobility options and accessibility for the non-driving elderly, disabled, low-income, and other members of the population……The City interprets the Council Policy to include the use of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) CalEnviroScreen tool to identify under-served communities and prioritize the CIP in census tracts ranking in the top 30% of CalEnviroScreen scores, which may be locally normalized.” In order to comply with this requirement, the CAP Implementation Plan must, incorporate specific equity strategies in each element. For example: the Energy Conservation and Disclosure Ordinance should include specific actions such as providing assistance to low income households for energy reduction and access to renewables; and directing new tree planting to those areas with limited tree canopy.

Include staffing for equity and implementation. We are supportive of the hiring of one additional staff to assist with the implementation of the Climate Action Plan; however, in most cities where implementation of a Climate Action Plan is given priority there is often multiple staff working on this issue. Therefore, in addition to this staff person, we encourage hiring at least five staff people, in which one is fully dedicated to equity, be included in the budget allocation. An Equity Specialist should be included to ensure compliance with this important CAP requirement. An Equity Specialist can help analyze and prioritize low-income communities of color in the struggle against climate change and the implementation of this plan.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with City staff to move the Climate Action Plan forward.

Sincerely,
MONIQUE G. LÓPEZ 

To download a PDF of this letter, click here.

A recent KPBS article reports that The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the organization responsible for planning the transportation in San Diego County, spent close to $1.5 million on a publicity strategy for the regional transportation plan.

The plan, passed last October, put freeways before people, ignoring recurring community requests for improved transit, biking and walking infrastructure before expanding freeways.

SANDAG board meeting 2

The article exposed SANDAG's developing media talking points to support the regional transportation plan; talking points that made the plan sound like a good option for our communities.

In reality, the plan is not a good option for our communities, and no media strategy or talking point covers this up.

Today, the truth remains the same: The regional transportation plan does not meet the community's needs, and it is not a good plan to improve the public health, safety and sustainability of the San Diego region.

SANDAG 6

Our communities will only improve when our government listens to the community and stands united with them.

Our communities don’t have millions of dollars to run a media campaign about the need for transportation justice.

Our communities have the truth. We have our stories. We have our heart. 

SANDAG transportation justice San Diego 8 lowres

Do you know where we find our talking points?

We find it in Alma from Sherman Heights, who used to take public transit two hours in each direction to get to work every day and support her family.

It’s Brent from Barrio Logan, who tirelessly advocates for accessable sidewalks and safe crossing near Chicano Park.

It’s Boo Paw, a Karen Refugee living in City Heights. She and her daughter were struck by a car on a road near her home because of the lack of safe places to walk.

It’s the mother and father in Westside National City. They stay up late every night with their child who has asthma - which is triggered by the pollution from the neighboring freeway.

They, and many others, are our inspiration. They live our talking points. Their lives are our message, and that message is this: 

We must put the health and safety of our communities first.

This is one message that has never changed.