A Letter from the Executive Director: Sharing ClimatePlan’s 2020 Emerging Policy Actions

Dear ClimatePlan partners and allies – 

Over the past month, I’ve had a few offline conversations with different partner organizations that are still processing our decision to oppose SB 50. For these partner organizations, it’s been challenging to understand why ClimatePlan—which has advocated for infill near transit and job centers for years—would oppose a bill that does exactly that. Especially in light of the failure of SB 375 to achieve its climate targets or significantly change regional growth patterns, our opposition to SB 50 stung some partners more than we expected. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter explaining our decision to oppose SB 50. Now, I want to take a step back. One of the most important things that SB 50 showed me is that it’s not enough for us to share our new Strategic Direction. We at ClimatePlan need to be transparent with our network—and the broader community—on the policy actions that ClimatePlan is focusing on, and how we are moving forward in 2020. 

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A Changing California Transportation Commission

The California Transportation Commission's first meeting in 2020 says a lot about the priorities of the commission moving forward. The CTC is undergoing many changes in leadership and these changes signal that now is the opportune time to pivot from car-centric policies to multimodal solutions.

Some leadership transitions include:

  • Susan Bransen, the current Executive Director will be retiring on Feb 14, 2020, after four years of service. 
  • Mitchell Weiss will be the new Executive Director, replacing Bransen.
  • Joseph Lyou, President and CEO of Coalition for Clean Air was appointed to the commission by  Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. 
  • Paul Van Konynenburg was selected as the new chair of the commission despite his term ending February 1, 2020.
  • Tamika Butler, resigned from the commission after serving only a few months, citing a conflict of interest. 

We at ClimatePlan are disappointed to see Butler resign; their voice was one of a few that uplifted equity. It is important that Butler’s seat is filled with another champion for equity. When picking new commissioners, we urge the Governor to review the list of candidates submitted by ClimatePlan and our partners. Assembly Speaker Rendon newest appointment, Joseph Lyou, was one of the recommendations. Lyou has over 25 years of experience fighting for environmental health and justice.

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A Letter from the Executive Director

I knew taking an oppose unless amended position on SB 50 would be challenging, especially for those partner organizations and allies who have worked with us for years to advance more sustainable, and equitable growth in California. 

I've found that it is tempting to react when someone doesn't understand what I'm trying to do. My staff has alerted me to some of the comments on Twitter about our position on SB 50. Some people have applauded our decision to center equity while others have questioned our commitment to our mission. 

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Why ClimatePlan is Opposing SB 50 unless Amended

For the past three years, we’ve all watched Senator Wiener attempt the impossible: passing SB 50, legislation that would allow mid-rise apartments complexes near transit stops (and now job centers!) and fourplexes in most single family communities across the state of California. We’ve been fascinated by Senator Wiener’s boldness—and even made an appearance  in the New York Times as we wrote about the need for bold solutions that work for low-income communities and communities of color. 

And now, ClimatePlan has taken a position—oppose unless amended—on SB 50, a bill that Politifact has called one of California’s most controversial housing bills. We’re sure that many people are asking why ClimatePlan—a network that has spent years trying to build infill near transit through a variety of different means—is taking such a strong stance against a bill that would fulfill a key component of ClimatePlan’s mission? 

Keep reading: we’re ready to share why we’ve taken this position.

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Modesto's General Plan can be a bright green "blueprint" for the region

Over the past few months, ClimatePlan staff have been working with key partners in the city of Modesto - Catholic Charities of Stockton, Tuolumne River Trust and the Sustainable Stanislaus Community Coalition - to help plan for the city’s upcoming General Plan Update.

The General Plan Update is a major milestone for the city of Modesto. Kicking off this process gives Modesto residents an opportunity to provide their feedback and ideas for how they want their communities to evolve in the years to come. A General Plan Update serves as a “blueprint for the city’s future.” The city of 214,000 residents is gradually growing due to increasing growth pressure from nearby San Francisco and San Jose. Modesto is in the 21-county Northern California MegaRegion (Bay Area Council Economic Institute) and it’s housing, land use, jobs, transportation, and environment are all being impacted by nearby growth. Modesto residents and elected officials will be looking to both local and regional dynamics to make crucial decisions for their city.

Below are a few of the ways ClimatePlan is engaging in the General Plan Update process and supporting our partners in lifting up the community’s priorities.

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Our Strategic Direction


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