The vast majority of Californians get where they need to go by driving, often by themselves, and predominantly fueled by oil. Decades of infrastructure funding built around the personal vehicle have reinforced this, promising freedom and mobility. Instead, what we have are fragmented communities, disappearing working lands, terrible air quality, inequity, housing shortages, poor health outcomes, and limited mobility choices—the very opposite of freedom.
This is apparent in San Joaquin County, which is home to an enormous share of the megaregion’s supercommuters: 15.8% of the entire workforce drives to the Bay Area five days a week. It’s also the site of new sprawl communities built on former agricultural land, which drive some of the worst air quality and health outcomes in the state.
We at ClimatePlan have worked with our partner organizations to address those issues, bringing together advocates and residents to look for opportunities to improve lives and the environment where climate, housing, transportation, conservation, equity, and air quality meet. Electrification has been held up as a panacea for all of our transportation challenges; it’s not. But it is a piece of the puzzle, and in San Joaquin county and its cities we see an opportunity for electrification to be deployed in a way that benefits all residents, across urban and rural communities.
We’re now working with the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG), Catholic Charities Diocese of Stockton, Third City, and others to shape an electrification vision and plan that:
- Promote city codes that ensure charging stations for all residents
- Create incentives for developers to build in the existing urban footprint by cutting down expensive parking and providing shared electric vehicles
- Promote zero emission options for vanpools for agricultural workers
- Improve air quality for residents by reducing mobile PM 2.5, PM 10 and ozone emissions
This vision, when implemented, would reduce pressure on working and wild lands by directing growth back into urban boundaries, improve air quality and health outcomes by reducing emissions, support housing choice by allowing for more housing stock to be built in urban areas and not just sprawl, and help meet California’s and the region’s mandated targets for greenhouse gas emissions as well as the targets for electric vehicle deployment and charging stations set by executive orders from Governors Brown and Newsom.
Municipal codes aren’t keeping up
Governor Newsom, and Governor Brown before him, have set ambitious but achievable targets for electric vehicles and infrastructure: 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025 (5 million ZEVs by 2030) supported by 250,000 plug-in electric charging stations. SJCOG’s survey of municipal codes in San Joaquin county makes it clear that cities are not on track to meet their share of those targets.
ClimatePlan’s strategic direction calls for us to Drive Transformative Policy Change. Our electrification work is on the cutting edge of rural electrification, and will center on community outreach and needs—with our partners, we’re working to elevate local priorities and amplify local voices in this vision and the plans and codes to follow.
Our next steps
On March 10th, ClimatePlan, Catholic Charities, and other residents and advocates will advocate for this vision to members of the SJCOG RTP/SCS working group and city planners. In the weeks that follow, we’ll be communicating with city and county planners to identify what elements can be added to codes to jump-start electrification in a way that complements transit and active transportation, incentivizes infill, improves air quality and health outcomes, and affords real transportation choice. Beyond San Joaquin county, we’ll look for how to scale this initiative in a way that it can be implemented in both rural and urban communities across the state.
How you can help
If you’re a local San Joaquin resident or advocate, please contact Christopher Escárcega, Network Engagement Manager, at christopher (at) climateplan (dot) org, to find out how your voice can be part of this initiative. If you live outside the county, we want to hear your thoughts, concerns, and ideas as well—contact Christopher to share them.