Environmental Justice – Planning for Equity
It is widely recognized that pollution and climate change hazards influence public health outcomes in affected communities. Often, low-income communities and communities of color experience higher levels of exposure to pollution and face greater risk from hazards and health impacts than other communities. Environmental justice (EJ) seeks to address inequities by reducing the negative impacts disproportionately experienced by these communities.
California has enacted several environmental justice-related policies, and in 2016, the California legislature passed SB 1000, as part of this ongoing effort to address pollution exposure and health impact inequities. This legislation requires jurisdictions to adopt or review an EJ element, or EJ goals, policies, and objectives if that jurisdiction contains a disadvantaged community (DAC), or is reviewing or adopting more than one element of their General Plan. Planning for environmental justice and social equity is going to play an increasing role in the planning process, consequently, Rincon has developed an introductory guide to help jurisdictions understand the terms, processes, and tools available to help them develop EJ policies.
Rincon at the Forefront in Environmental Justice Planning
Rincon is a leader in environmental planning and is bringing this expertise to the leading edge of environmental justice planning efforts. Our team has already helped over 25 clients incorporate environmental justice into their planning documents.
For example, Rincon has been working with the City of Port Hueneme to do a comprehensive update of their General Plan and Housing Element Update that includes a stand-alone Environmental Justice Element in addition to a Climate Action Plan and an update to their Local Coastal Program. This project is also showcased as a case study in Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Southern California Climate Adaptation Framework SB 379 Compliance Curriculum For Local Jurisdictions.
Rincon also worked with City of Berkeley to develop an inclusive planning process and equity guardrails as part of the City’s electrification plan, which was referenced in a recent New York Times article. This approach ensured that the existing building electrification plan would incorporate the needs and concerns of disadvantaged communities, without creating unintended burdens for those communities.
We are excited to share this Environmental Justice Guidance Document as a resource for jurisdictions that are seeking to understand this important and emerging planning area.