“Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Our built environment has a tremendous impact on our health. There are a number of communities throughout Sacramento County whose health outcomes are disproportionately impacted by the planning decisions that were and are made about the physical development of their communities. Our built environment is dictated by the blueprint or vision that is set forth by our city and county general plans. And as they currently stand, the city and county general plans do little to address food access challenges faced by these communities.
Senate Bill (SB) 1000 (Leyva), which passed in 2016, sought out to address Environmental Justice through the objectives, policies and implementation measures in city and county General Plans. SB 1000 applies to any city or county with disadvantaged communities updating two or more elements of their general plan after January 2018. Disadvantaged communities are identified by CalEnviroScreen 3.0, by median income or another representative measure as identified by the city or county that is developing their Environmental Justice element or policies. SB 1000 defines the topical areas that must be considered, which include:
reduction of pollution exposure (including but not limited to improved air quality);
the promotion of public facilities;
safe and sanitary homes;
and physical activity.
Sacramento County is updating elements of their general plan and has assembled an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee to guide their process through the full implementation of their Environmental Justice Element in Spring 2019. Sacramento Food Policy Council has a seat on the Advisory Committee.
The City of Sacramento is beginning their full general plan update, which will include an Environmental Justice Element or policies.
We have been engaged in community workshops about SB 1000 and Environmental Justice since Spring 2017. Sacramento Food Policy Council supports these efforts and provides input from the food access perspective.
There are advocates from other topical areas such as transportation and housing also working on SB 1000. These advocates gather to align efforts at the Community Development Action Team meetings. SacACT (Area Congregations Together) also formed an Environmental Justice committee to activate their network.