Dear White folks, we need to talk about racism

A note from Chanell Fletcher, Executive Director of ClimatePlan: I want to thank Amy for being brave enough to write this letter and publish it on our website. I know it may provoke a lot of responses and conversations, which is good. We, as a network of environment, conservation, smart growth, equity, public health, housing, and transportation organizations, need to have a conversation about what it means and looks like to advance health, sustainability, equity, and a just future. We can’t push for the Governor to implement policies such as SB 743 if we’re not also speaking out on the need for tenant protections during COVID-19. And if we mean what we say about equity, we cannot stay silent on the issues that matter most. Thank you Amy again for your words and your call to action. 

***

Dear fellow White folks, 

This is difficult for me to write. 

I’m sure by now, you’ve seen the news coverage that George Floyd, a black man, has been murdered at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. In the same week, Christian Cooper, also a black man, was falsely accused--while bird watching--of harassing Amy Cooper, a white woman, in New York City’s Central Park. And not even a month ago, we also saw the murder of another black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia at the hands of white supremacists. Christian was enjoying bird watching. Ahmaud was going for a run. The list of Black men and women murdered by police officers and white supremacists grows daily.

All of the aforementioned incidents occurred in public spaces: parks, open spaces, along a sidewalk, in neighborhoods. Places where networks like ClimatePlan are working to create, shape and strengthen policies and initiatives that bring about “equitable and sustainable communities.”  As a recent CNN article pointed out, there's one epidemic we may never find a vaccine for: fear of black men in public spaces.

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How California can lead the nation with its approach to transit during COVID-19

For years, California has led the nation in its efforts to address climate change. Now, the coronavirus has created an opportunity for California to lead the nation with its efforts to save transit and build upon the “cycling explosion.”  

Even before COVID-19, transit ridership was declining. Now, there are historic drops in ridership and fare revenue due to COVID-19. The shelter-in-place ordinances across the state combined with a valid fear of how COVID-19 could be spread on transit has resulted in ridership and fare revenues dropping by more than 90 percent. While the federal stimulus has staved off the worst of the impacts, the California Transit Association noted in a recent op-ed that a second wave of drops will hit local transit agencies, especially with state and local sales taxes plunging due to a slow economy. And as seen in previous recessions, a future stimulus will help but it can't stabilize transit for the long haul. Additionally, the Washington Post shared that public transit is highlighting historic inequities that are further impacted by COVID-19. Lower-income communities of color that don’t own cars have no other option but to ride transit to get to work, school, and the store.

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ICYMI: Here’s why we need to implement SB 743 in the middle of a global pandemic

Recently we at ClimatePlan came across a webpage from the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) entitled, “Housing Killers & Creators.” Imagine our surprise when we saw SB 743—also known as “New transportation analysis will add to the cost of building a home”—on CBIA’s webpage. According to CBIA, “effective July 1, 2020, cities and counties will be required to analyze the amount of driving, known as Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), residents do every day. Then, those local agencies will then tax new homes to punish people who drive. The primary target is lower- and middle-income people who are often communities of color. These communities often have the longest commutes. Applying this new metric is an arbitrary and unproven strategy that runs the significant risk of litigation, delay, cost-overruns and constraints on housing production.

After perusing their webpage, we’d like to encourage you, the reader, to do two things:

  1. Read the facts of what SB 743 will (and will not) do here and here. As you will see, SB 743 doesn’t require local agencies to “tax new homes” nor does it target low-income communities of color.
  2. Read Amy’s blog below on why we need to implement SB 743, especially in the midst of COVID-19.
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New ClimatePlan campaign: Decolonize Transportation Funding

For years, we’ve been trying to break down transportation funding in California. In 2018, we created a fact sheet to show how California’s transportation funding is (not) advancing California’s climate goals. While the fact sheet helped, we realized we weren’t solving the real problem with transportation funding. 

What’s the real problem? 

Transportation funding is colonized. This means that the knowledge (and power) of California’s transportation funding is held by those who understand the system. Most transportation funding programs have separate guideline processes that can run concurrently; this makes it challenging for advocates to weigh in. The stipulations around funding sources make it difficult for advocates to understand which programs can fund transit, active transportation, urban greening, and conservation mitigation efforts.

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Around the State in 24 Days: 2020 ClimatePlan Listening Sessions (Part I)

In February and March of 2020, ClimatePlan staff, in collaboration with key regional and state partners, hosted seven hosted “listening sessions” and network mixers across California. We wanted to hear firsthand about the work and priorities of our network partners: where are you gaining ground? What challenges are you facing? What can be done at the network level to support your most important priorities?

To get to those questions, and the inspiration for the listening sessions, we started from our first principles - our network’s strategic priorities: drive transformative policy change, amplify community voices, and build bridges across issues and geographies. In order to ground those priorities, we continually work to ensure that the ClimatePlan Network is connected and aligned around the creation of more sustainable and equitable communities. Grounding, in this case, means getting out into where our partners are and hearing directly from them about their own work and goals and also getting an honest take on our own emerging policy actions

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