Urban Environmentalists is a community of 4,500+ grassroots activists transforming cities and towns into more sustainable, human-centered, and just communities through land use policy reform. Continue to read more about Urban Environmentalists’ work and learn how to get involved!
ClimatePlan is excited to use our platform to feature one of our network partners Urban Environmentalists and the work they're doing - thank you Joanna Gubman for contributing this blog!
Pro-housing climate advocacy in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, image provided by Urban Environmentalists
The following responses were provided to ClimatePlan by Joanna Gubman, Executive Director of Urban Environmentalists. ClimatePlan is excited to feature our network partners on our blog. Note that the views, positions, and work of ClimatePlan's network partners is their own and does not represent the views, positions, and work of ClimatePlan. If you or your organization are interested in contributing a blog for consideration, please email Moiz Mir at [email protected]
Tell us about your organization: Where do you work? What issues do you focus on? How is the organization structured?
Urban Environmentalists is a community of grassroots activists transforming cities and towns into more sustainable, human-centered, and just communities through land use policy reform. We’re an initiative of YIMBY Action, a grassroots pro-housing network with three dozen local chapters nationwide. Urban Environmentalists has two state-level chapters - California and Illinois.
Urban Environmentalists has about 4,500 activists in our network, including a cohort of volunteer leads. We engage in all types of organizing:
- Educational events and trainings
- Social events
- Political mobilizations, including canvassing for endorsed politicians and ballot measures
- Letters of support for state legislation
- Public comment on everything from local Planning Commission meetings to state agency rulemakings
- Petitions and letter-writing campaigns
- Op-eds and letters to the editor
- And more!
We love partnering with like-minded organizations on these initiatives, so we particularly appreciate being a part of ClimatePlan!
What project(s) and initiative(s) is your org currently working on?
We are currently celebrating success in achieving a historic parking reform in San Jose, as part of a coalition led by our friends at Greenbelt Alliance. We also recently organized an event (hosted by SPUR) on reforming CEQA, California’s controversial environmental protection law.
Looking ahead, we’re in the final sprint for California’s legislative session, which ends on August 31. We’ll be particularly turning out in support of bills with a strong housing connection. Our priorities include:
- AB 2011 - Streamlining building housing on underutilized commercial land
- AB 2097 - Prohibit car parking mandates for new housing near transit
- SB 886 and SB 922 - Exempt eligible university housing, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure projects from environmental review under CEQA
And of course we are also supporting AB 2438, a potentially transformative transportation bill sponsored by ClimatePlan!
As the November elections approach, Urban Environmentalists will also be out there supporting urbanist, pro-housing candidates. And we’ll be staying busy with other fun activities in the meantime, like an upcoming tour of Emeryville with Mayor John Bauters.
How do these advance the climate movement?
A household in an urban or inner suburban area emits one-third fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a similar-income household in the outer suburbs or exurbs, on a consumption basis. And that’s before upgrading gas appliances and cars to be all-electric. In fact, the twin measures of building urban infill and reducing the need to drive combine to form the most impactful local climate action we can take in California’s inner suburbs and urban cores, as we strive to meet our 2030 goals.
Supporting urban infill and reducing driving is also an environmental justice imperative as we work to integrate exclusionary neighborhoods, reverse decades of disinvestment in Black and Brown communities, and address environmentally-caused public health impacts such as asthma, COVID vulnerability, and exposure to toxins.
So while solar panels and electric cars are essential, they are not sufficient to meet our climate and environmental justice goals. That’s why we need more urban environmentalists speaking up — to connect the dots between land use reform and fostering healthy, thriving, and sustainable communities.
How can ClimatePlan network members get involved or stay connected?
Please join us at www.urbanenvironmentalists.org/join! We have volunteer and sliding scale memberships available, as well as a free newsletter to share upcoming events and calls to action. You can also reach out to our leadership team anytime at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you and get you plugged in to the volunteer opportunities that speak to you.