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.
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:
- 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.
- Read Amy’s blog below on why we need to implement SB 743, especially in the midst of COVID-19.
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.Read more
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.
Dear ClimatePlan partners and allies,
I hope you are all staying safe and practicing physical distancing at this time. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented crisis for everyone. The magnitude and spread of this virus has shown how connected everyone is. What happens across the world does impact California—climate change has shown this—but COVID-19 has forced everyone to feel the immediate impacts of world-wide disaster. ClimatePlan stands in empathy as hundreds of thousands of people across the world have experienced devastation due to this pandemic.
The impacts of COVID-19 are far-reaching
COVID-19 has also shown how important integrated solutions are in this time. This pandemic has impacted every part of society and its clear there’s not one solution that will fix everything. Every day we’re learning something new about COVID-19’s impacts on communities:
- The New York Times shared that the coronavirus is infecting and killing black people in the U.S. at disproportionately high rates; one of the factors listed is the effect of government redlining policies.
- The Environmental Health News shared that kids who have asthma and live near industrial polluters may face higher risk from coronavirus; kids—and I believe adults—who are already facing respiratory challenges due to air pollution and asthma are more likely to have to go to the hospital due to COVID-19.