Big News from ClimatePlan: New Executive Director

Chanell Fletcher, ClimatePlan's former Executive Director delivers some exciting news.
 

Dear ClimatePlan partners and allies--

In February, ClimatePlan shared a note on its leadership structure. I am very happy to provide a much-welcomed update on the leadership at ClimatePlan: Nailah Pope-Harden will be ClimatePlan's next Executive Director. Many of you have already worked with Nailah in her current role as State Policy Manager and experienced firsthand her ability to weave together the necessary threads to build and mobilize an effective coalition for change.

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Strengthening SB 375: An Interview with Leadership Counsel's Julia Jordan

Back in 2007, ClimatePlan was founded by 11 different nonprofits for the sole purpose of ensuring AB32 / SB375 was passed and implemented in California. 14 years later, we’re still working to strengthen SB375 implementation throughout our state as we believe it’s a critical piece of the puzzle in creating healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities. In this current legislative session, there are several pieces of legislation to strengthen SB375. We recently sat down with Julia Jordan, Policy Coordinator at Leadership Counsel, to hear more about SB375 and what is being done to improve implementation of SB375 in the legislature. 

What is SB 375 and what does it mandate in California? 

SB 375 has been around since 2008. It essentially added a component to California’s regional transportation planning process to better address greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the transportation sector and specifically, GHGs from passenger vehicles (cars). Regional transportation plans have been around for even longer than that and require the creation of a 20-year vision for transportation investments and priorities. 

SB 375 requires each Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in California to include a “Sustainable Communities Strategy” (SCS) in their regional transportation plan. This plan demonstrates how each region will meet their GHG reduction targets, which are set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Different regions of the state have been putting together SCS plans to meet climate goals for the last 13 years and the process involves a lot of different agencies - CARB, the California Transportation Commission (CTC), local governments, transit agencies, and MPOs who are responsible for making those plans. The analysis in SCSs also includes information on that region’s transportation network, housing availability, affordability, land use and population data in the region and how that region is expecting to grow. The projects that are put in the SCS become eligible for local, state and federal funding, so it is critical that the public is able to equitably engage and inform the plans. 

More information on details of SB 375 can be found here in this resource from the Institute for Local Government. 

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Align California's Budget Surplus with Key Environmental Plans

“This is an historic, transformational budget. This is not a budget that plays small ball.” - Governor Gavin Newsom on the May Revise, May 14, 2021

Several weeks ago, Governor Newsom released his “May Revise” budget outlining his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan”, which he’s calling “the biggest economic recovery package in California history.” California currently has a $75 billion dollar surplus in our state budget and also has $27 billion dollars in federal aid, hence the necessary “May Revise” to the budget. 

For Californians that care about transportation, infrastructure, land use, water, and environmental justice, the May Revise brings promising news. The full May Revise budget can be found here and below are particular areas of interest for the ClimatePlan network. 

As the Governor goes into negotiations with the Senate and Assembly regarding the funding plan, there is a major opportunity to ensure that this spending proposal is aligned with several of the key state plans currently created or being created - the California Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), the 30 x 30 Executive Order (conserving 30% of CA’s land and coast by 2030), California Air Resources Board’s new Climate Change Scoping Plan, and Executive Order N-70-29, which calls for all new cars sold in California to be zero emission by 2035.

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Webinar Recap: Using Collaborative Planning to Address Compounding Crises

ClimatePlan’s CivicSpark fellow, Nicole Cheng, recently facilitated a webinar discussion entitled “Using Collaborative Planning to Address Compounding Crises.” Over the past year, Nicole has been working on ways for planning departments throughout the Bay Area to better integrate land use and water supply planning. Over the year of research and engagement, it has become clear that climate change and the pandemic have amplified existing challenges around integrating water and land use in planning. But, there are also opportunities for transformational change in the way that agencies, advocates, and communities can work together to create more resilient, equitable communities throughout the state. 

The webinar had a great lineup of panelists, including Thomas Niesar - Water Supply and Planning Manager at Alameda County Water District (ACWD), Zoe Siegel - Director of Climate Resilience at Greenbelt Alliance, and Clarrissa Cabansagan - Director of Programs at TransForm. 

You can listen to the full webinar here

Here is an outline of the webinar and time stamps associated with it. 

  • Panelist introductions: 5:00-7:18
  • Summary of the challenges: 8:06-32:17
  • Barriers to collaboration/opportunities: 32:17 - 47:37
  • Audience Q and A: 47:37- 1:02:36
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1 Year Into the Pandemic - How We Can Use Collaborative Planning to Get out of Compounding Crises

Right now, we are one year into a global pandemic and stay-at-home orders. The data from the State Water Board is showing 1.5 million Californians are behind on their water bills; the average amount of debt per household is $500. According to the Legislative Analyst office, Californian renters owe $400 million in unpaid debt, on top of a shortfall of 220,000 of affordable homes (MTC and ABAG). Latinx, Black, and Asian households are more likely to be behind on rent and water bills than white households. A decline in ridership has led to a decrease in public investments in transportation infrastructure, which is largely used by low income communities. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. These multiple, compounding crises further highlight the importance of collaborative infrastructure planning for healthy and sustainable communities. Current financing infrastructure relies on local governments, water agencies, and transportation agencies to fund their own operation, maintenance, and infrastructure upgrades. Local governments can rely on impact fees. However, many transportation and water agencies have few outside sources of revenue. So, they largely rely on funding from their constituents and customers in paying their utility bills, paying ridership fees, etc. 

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