Better Integrating Water and Land Use: Building the Foundation for the Future

Here at ClimatePlan, we continue to challenge ourselves to think holistically and transformatively with our present and future challenges. Because of this, we have long recognized and pushed to connect California’s transportation, land-use, housing, and climate decisions to each other, and ground these decisions in community voice. With most of the background research done for our land-use and water project in the Bay Area (spotlighted in October), we have learned how vital it is to connect water decisions to ClimatePlan’s holistic vision.

This connection is vital because the separation of water from our land-use and transportation decisions has three negative consequences:

1. The separation compounds challenges because decision makers are not considering all the benefits or consequences.
2. The separation also prevents decisionmakers from meaningful implementation of solutions to address the challenges, and thus
3. The separation leaves the most vulnerable communities unprepared for the upcoming challenges of climate change. 

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Shifting Hearts, Minds, and Habits: Equitable implementation of SB 743

In California and globally, we know that cars and trucks are our main source of emissions and  contribute significantly to air pollution, disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of color. 

Here at ClimatePlan, we think that this is an opportune time to think as big and as bold as we possibly can about the ways in which we live our day-to-day lives and how we can learn lessons from this unprecedented time. We know that a shift in culture, mindset, and will is going to be needed to transform our economic, public health, transportation, and housing systems into being more equitable and environmentally-conscious.

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California Transportation Commission: We need to make room for equity

Right now, there is so much uncertainty with how the state will move forward after the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing the coordination of resources happening at an unprecedented rate. COVID-19 is also an opportunity for reflection: is California making real progress on its climate goals? We know that California is not on target for its 2020 or 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goals. We know that there needs to be a shift in the way California prioritizes its transportation spending to get us closer to those goals. And we know achieving our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, if done right, can improve the wellbeing of all Californians.  

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is how interconnected everything actually is, including transportation. The transportation sector is a vital part of California; the decisions made at California Transportation Commission (CTC) meetings have daily implications for the lives of California residents. If California is to meet its climate goals, the state will need more than a thirteen person commission to weigh in on these decisions.  There needs to be a holistic approach to decide where transportation investments go that provides equitable solutions to the climate crisis.

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A Piece of the Puzzle: Electrification in San Joaquin County

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.

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Breathing Easier: Stockton’s Work to Develop an Air Community Protection Plan

Thanks to the work of advocates, Southwest Stockton has been approved to be a part of the 2019 Community Air Protection Program (CAPP). This program stems from AB 617 (Garcia, 2017); This important air quality legislation laid the groundwork for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish the CAPP to reduce the exposure and health effects in communities most impacted by air pollution. The CAPP provides funding to deploy cleaner technology and support community participation in planning. The path to CAPP funding was paved by advocates and residents' work on the Rise Stockton project and their continued engagement in their neighborhoods to build a groundswell of community support to improve the air they breathe. 

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