Centering People
and Equity First

Introduction

Climate change affects us all but is not experienced fairly. Certain groups of people have been disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards due to unjust social and economic conditions perpetuated and upheld by our institutions. People of color, low-income residents, Indigenous people, immigrants, and people in rural areas have historically been the target of generations of racist and classist policies such as redlining, and other negligent zoning practices that have led to higher concentrations of pollution and environmental toxins. These communities also have long been excluded from the decision-making processes regarding their own wellbeing and often have limited access to public resources despite being overburdened by environmental hazards.

That is why climate change advocacy groups often refer to these communities as frontline communities or those who will be hit first and worst by the climate crisis. Their climate vulnerability is determined by both physical factors, such as exposure to wildfires, floods, etc., and socioeconomic factors such as inadequate living conditions, community health status, and level of access to public services.

What’s at Risk?

Frontline communities’ disparate exposure to environmental hazards has been thoroughly documented for decades. In the case of deadly heat events, a report by the City of San Francisco Climate and Health Assessment found that “factors such as ethnicity, linguistic isolation, and low education contribute significantly to relative heat vulnerability. For Black Americans, who are more likely to live in neighborhoods with fewer trees, the rate of heat related deaths is 150-200% greater than for white people (Morello-Frosch et al., 2009).

Another example of unequal burden can be seen in the air pollution exposure rate for different groups. Studies have shown that people of color contribute less to air pollution but they are burdened more by it. In California, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the California Environmental Protection Agency reported that 89% of people living in the census tracts most impacted by pollution burden and socioeconomic disadvantage are people of color. The Union of Concerned Scientists found in a 2019 study that Black and Latino Californians “are exposed to about 40 percent more fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from cars, trucks and buses than white Californians.”

Frontline communities also lack the capacity to prepare for and recover from climate hazards such as floods and wildfires. In the case of wildfire, for example, fire vulnerability increases for people who do not have access to fire insurance and do not have the means to afford tree trimming or fuel removal to protect their homes (Davies et al., 2018). These types of gaps in resources need to be addressed by local governments and investors.

Environmental Justice

The Environmental Justice movement is a response to the disproportionate burden of environmental risks on frontline communities. The movement has been hard at work in the United States since the 1970s to ensure that all people regardless of their race, nationality, or income have “the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work,”(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

The State of California recently enumerated environmental justice benchmarks with the passage of State Bill 1000 (2016). The bill establishes that environmental justice policies and goals (also known as an EJ element) must be incorporated into the General Plans of California cities and counties that contain disadvantaged communities as defined by one or more criteria, in order to “facilitate transparency and public engagement in local governments’ planning and decision-making processes, reduce harmful pollutants and the associated health risks in environmental justice communities, and promote equitable access to health-inducing benefits, such as healthy food options, housing, public facilities, and recreation” (SB1000). It also states that these goals should be accomplished in the environmental justice element by identifying objectives and policies to (a) reduce the unique or compounded health risks in disadvantaged communities by means that include, but are not limited to, the reduction of pollution exposure, including the improvement of air quality, and the promotion of public facilities, food access, safe and sanitary homes, and physical activity; (b) promote civic engagement in the public decision-making process; and (c) establish policies that prioritize improvements and programs that address the needs of disadvantaged communities (ibid).

What is a disadvantaged community?

Disadvantaged communities, or DACs, are defined as “area[s] identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] … or a low-income area that is disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and other hazards that can lead to negative health effects, exposure, or environmental degradation” (SB 1000).  In addition to establishing environmental justice policies within a General Plan, SB 1000 requires that cities and counties map DACs to address their needs based on their exposure to environmental hazards. The EPA and its Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have developed a web-based screening tool called CalEnviroScreen that cities and counties can use for this identification. While mapping DACs, cities and counties may find that frontline communities may not be identified in the CalEnviroScreen because it focuses more on the environmental impacts caused by pollution rather than climate hazards. It is important to note that such communities may still meet the State’s definition of “disadvantaged” and require adequate inclusion in environmental justice and resilience policies that protect them from negative environmental risks. We use the term frontline communities in the Resilience Playbook to capture the climate vulnerability factor that the State’s analysis might overlook. There are a variety of terms that are used to describe communities that are the most vulnerable to climate hazards and we recommend each city or jurisdiction consult with community members for feedback on inclusive terminology.

How do you embed equity and environmental justice into your General Plan? There are three integral components that should be incorporated into all climate mitigation and adaptation efforts:

  • Community Engagement: Center the voices of frontline communities by putting residents at the heart of policy processes, recognizing that everyone has a unique lived experience and knowledge level when it comes to climate change.
  • Equitable Nature-Based Solutions: Work in sync with nature to benefit our communities and ecosystems, prioritizing solutions that remediate historic harms, improve public health, create long-term climate resilience, and avoid unintended consequences such as displacement.
  • Just Transition: Move to a regenerative economy that not only mitigates climate change but provides people with good jobs, economic mobility, and does not exhaust our planet’s finite resources.

Community Engagement

As mentioned earlier, to successfully incorporate environmental justice goals into policymaking, it is essential that robust and meaningful community engagement is a central practice. The best way to strengthen our communities and make environments healthier for all is to co-create solutions with community partners. Working with community partners can look like identifying local community-based organizations (CBOs) in project areas and meeting with these groups to hear about crucial issues. 

This will help policy advocates, researchers, and elected officials engage with people thoughtfully in the policy development process and incorporate a wide variety of knowledge through elevating peoples’ lived experiences. A process of ground-truthing, or observing the reality of a situation on the ground instead of solely depending on data, is essential to making the appropriate policy choices.

With this Resilience Playbook, our purpose is to provide a toolkit of resources, policy recommendations, and best practices that can help make our communities and homes more resilient in the face of the climate crisis. We know that the actualization of these policies requires building a shared understanding of the issues and designing solutions together with the people who will be the most impacted by climate change. While reading the following chapters of the Playbook, which tackle multiple climate hazards and other relevant challenges, keep in mind that these policy recommendations must be evaluated by the people that they will impact. 

In our Policy Matrix below, we offer suggestions on how to conduct meaningful community engagement. These suggestions were designed by organizations that have a wealth of knowledge regarding equity. While we highlighted some of their key recommended practices, we urge you to check out these full documents to further your understanding of operationalizing equity in policy making:

Additionally, we have many more equity resources and guides in the Toolkit section of the Playbook.

Equitable Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions are increasingly cited as a way to tackle the multiple climate threats faced by our communities and larger ecosystems. Nature-based solutions leverage existing benefits provided by nature, known as ecosystem services, to increase both the physical resilience of our landscapes and improve the wellbeing of the humans that exist in these spaces. By protecting the innate functions of ecosystems through proper management and restoration, we can use nature to help us combat climate risks such as wildfires and floods for example. Additionally, we can employ nature in our urban landscapes to manage environmental hazards such as air pollution and high heat events through urban greening initiatives. There are an array of different natural solutions that we can employ depending on the risks that we are trying to mitigate.

 

Not only do nature-based solutions have the potential to protect people from the environmental impacts of climate change on their communities, studies show that they can also provide a variety of health benefits to socio-economically disadvantaged communities like enhanced physical activity and improved immune systems. However, oftentimes nature-based solutions are not equally distributed, and are not designed and implemented without equity in mind, marginalizing vulnerable communities from receiving their benefits or resulting in unintended negative consequences like displacement.

Cities, policymakers, and community organizations should make it their goal to incorporate equity as the foundation for nature-based solutions to recognize how different forms of access and control over nature and its benefits influence the level of vulnerability communities have towards climate hazards and risks. Unequal access to green spaces is a huge barrier to equitable climate adaptation and it is necessary to put frontline communities first when considering where nature-based solutions should be employed. This transformational approach to nature-based solutions may not only protect against exacerbating existing inequalities in our physical environment and social systems, but also remediate historic harms done to communities in the first place.

Recommendations for embedding equity into nature-based solutions include:

  • Creating in-depth collaboration between municipalities and communities before embarking on nature-based solutions projects
  • Allocating significant funding for nature-based solutions projects that have multiple benefits to communities and assuring their longevity by guaranteeing continued funding
  • Providing research and technical support to residents that want to implement a nature-based solution in their community and helping them with grant writing and project design
  • Designing projects that are led by Indigenous communities in order to elevate their Traditional Ecological Knowledge(TEK)
  • Working with community partners to create measurable equity goals that determine the success of a project
Case Study

North Richmond Eco-Village Development Project, North Richmond CA

By Richmond LAND

Daily life in North Richmond means families must make their way through low wages, trash dumping in the neighborhood, bad air quality, and in between heavy industrial zones. North Richmond was one of the areas that African American families in the Bay Area were allowed to live in and many of those residents were a part of the WWII shipbuilding efforts in the region and will be impacted by more severe climate threats in the future.

The North Richmond Community, an unincorporated area of Contra Costa County with predominantly Black and Latinx populations, desires to see more green space, greater access to recreation, better connectivity of trails and active transportation infrastructure, mitigation of illegal dumping activities, preservation and expansion of affordable housing, and better air and water quality conditions. The North Richmond Eco Village seeks to address climate adaptation as well as ensure that the village stays affordable. The Eco Village is in active design and the lead community land trust designing the project with resident-driven participation are guided by nature-based solutions to benefit the surrounding ecosystem and the people who will live in the Eco-Village.

The project seeks to revitalize vacant public housing land to create infill density for current residents and stewards of North Richmond. These will be high-quality, cottage-like homes built on permanent foundations with a green design in mind. The housing development project will combine the best practices of sustainable design and equitable nature-based solutions by including features that address sea level rise, green infrastructure, keeping historic trees for air quality, creek restoration, and water conservation features. The Eco-Village provides a safer, healthier living environment for the whole community.

Richmond LAND, a nonprofit developer leading with the community land trust model, worked in 2019 directly with a team of community members through the Building Power Fellowship. The Fellowship supports a cohort of Richmond area residents to design, research, and bring to life community development and housing project concepts that serve low-income residents of color. The cohort advanced, clarified, and envisioned these projects through arts and cultural activities, and events that reflect low-income communities of color’s right to stay and live affordably in West Contra Costa County. During the course of the Fellowship, the cohort seeded the idea of an Eco-Village in North Richmond which emerged from the community’s ideas for building health, wealth, and homeownership while simultaneously turning investments in sea level rise adaptation and aging infrastructure into opportunities for the community as a whole.

The land will be maintained permanently affordable in the community land trust through a 99-year ground lease restriction. North Richmond voices help inspire real transformation for people and the land by helping to imagine and design approaches that take on climate risk and include the people and nature-based solutions that reflect community needs.

Looking into the future, Richmond LAND will anchor the Eco Village development project within a larger initiative that will tie in major community infrastructure on Giaramita Street; such as roadways and valuable habitat threatened by sea level rise. Proven green infrastructure strategies like rain gardens and tree planting programs will yield benefits for the neighborhood’s health, wealth, habitat, and housing affordability.

Just Transition

A critical part of our fight against climate change is moving away from dependency on fossil fuels and transitioning to a green economy in a just way that leaves no one behind. California has long been a leader in climate policy and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction initiatives, and this past decade has ushered in significant advances to renewable energy that have reduced our reliance on gas and coal. However, we still face the challenge of facilitating necessary technological changes in an equitable way. What happens to workers, local economies, and vital local tax revenues during the transition to renewables when power plants eventually must discontinue operations?

As climate action continues to scale and speed up, we must follow a pathway from extractive economies towards systems that can allow for both people and the planet to thrive. Researchers call this framework a “Just Transition”. The graphic below shows how the concept encompasses changes to policy, investment, governance, and value systems.

 

Climate Justice Alliance and Movement Generation

Just Transition is a comprehensive term used to (1) acknowledge that climate change will result in unavoidable social and economic changes, (2) understand that those changes will likely unfold in very uneven ways, and (3) realize there is an opportunity to manage these changes to bring about social equity, economic development, and sustainability in ways that “leave no one behind” rather than further exacerbate existing inequalities (CSIS 2020).

The Just Transition movement is rooted in labor organizing and environmental justice. Further background on the foundational origins and grounding principles of the movement can be found in this study. In the US, Just Transition gained popularity as an approach towards closing coal mines but, in the Bay Area, most actions are focused on decommissioning oil refineries. Decommissioning, or even pivoting industry activities to cleaner fuels, can have significant impacts on the local community, including:

  • People losing their jobs both directly (at the industrial site) or indirectly (in supporting industries or services).
  • Those losing their jobs likely don’t have skills to be competitive in the transitioning economy and need training/education.
  • The City and County are often dependent on these industries as part of their tax base. This loss of revenue can mean less money for schools, infrastructure, and services that residents depend on.
  • These industrial sites are often highly contaminated and require expensive remediation efforts that can make redevelopment difficult, technical, and expensive.

Just Transition in Practice

The transition to a green economy is already well underway, with recent studies showing that investing in green energy produces more jobs and better economic outcomes. To illustrate, “spending $1 million on clean energy investments generates about 17 jobs across all sectors of the U.S. economy, while spending the same $1 million on maintaining the existing fossil fuel infrastructure produces only about 5 jobs”(Pollin & Callaci 2016).

The ongoing decommissioning of coal mines and refineries across the country has provided numerous case studies for modeling the Just Transition. In Becker, MN, local leaders and residents took immediate action upon learning that the power plant located in town would be closing in seven years, taking 75% of the town’s tax base and over 150 jobs with it (Just Transition Fund 2021). Through early and collaborative planning, the town was able to receive state and federal funding that helped to establish a new recycling facility and data center that are able to sustain the jobs lost from the power plant and bolster the town’s struggling tax base.

 

Case Study

A Path to a Just Transition in Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County has four oil refineries that occupy significant portions of the county’s shoreline and accompanying industrial uses that range in emissions profile. A Resolution by the County Board of Supervisors passed in September 2020 declared a state of climate emergency in Contra Costa and resolved to plan for a ‘ away from a fossil-fuel dependent economy.

In August 2020, the Marathon oil refinery announced the immediate permanent end to crude processing at its Martinez refinery. Phillips 66 followed suit shortly thereafter with notice of the impending partial closure of its San Francisco Refinery Complex facilities in Rodeo, Franklin Canyon, and Arroyo Grande. Both companies proposed switching to significantly downsized production of non-petroleum fuels, which will involve fallowing of large portions of the refineries.

Neither of these announcements identified any commitment to full cleanups of the contaminated industrial sites. As sea level rise increases, rising could cause contaminated materials from these sites to seep into the water table. As Contra Costa County and other jurisdictions plan for a just, equitable transition away from fossil fuels, they must plan for the impacts of climate change on the decommissioned plant sites.

In each section of the Resilience Playbook, we include a “Policy Matrix” or a collection of best practices that we gathered from ambitious General Plans and Climate Action Plans across California. It also features diverse guidebooks and scientific papers that cover climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges. The Centering People and Equity section of the Playbook introduces policies that center equity. Some of the policies presented in the matrix are repeated in other sections of the Playbook. This purposeful design choice allows the Centering People and Equity section to highlight the overarching theme of equity in all facets of our work, a key goal in the journey of building climate resilience.

The first EJ policies presented in the policy matrix are ones that tackle community engagement. We hope you keep these recommendations at the front of your mind while reading the entire Playbook, since the successful execution of climate policies will be dependent on working with community partners from start to finish.

Critical Actions to Take Now

  • Create equitable processes for executing climate resilience policies, where justice is central to the policy design and implementation. Meaningful engagement means co-creating solutions with frontline communities and working to remediate for historic harms instigated by the institution.
  • Ensure everyone has access to climate-resilient housing in a way that takes into consideration the systemic disenfranchisement of frontline communities and addresses the root causes of the housing crisis. Prioritize policies that mitigate the effects of redlining, avoid causing displacement, and create safe and sanitary homes for the most vulnerable.
  • Move away from an extractive, fossil fuel-based economy, to one that is regenerative. Prioritize creating healthy communities, remediating environmental injustices, and providing green jobs, especially for those whose welfare is threatened by the transition away from fossil fuels.
  • Design healthy resilient neighborhoods that have the tools to protect communities from a multitude of climate hazards, especially frontline communities that are the most vulnerable to risk. Make sure these places reflect the physical and mental needs of residents, creating opportunities for growth and community solidarity.

Policy Matrix

Goal
Create equitable processes for executing climate resilience policies, where justice is central to the policy design and implementation.
Strategy Actions Source
Recognize the role that institutions have played in the marginalization of frontline communities and uplift the responsibility elected officials have to remediate harm, transform the system, and uphold democratic practices. Acknowledge marginalization as the status quo practice of current systems that have been historically designed to exclude certain populations, namely low-income communities, communities of color, women, youth, previously incarcerated people, and queer or gender non-conforming community members. This understanding is important because if concerted efforts are not made to break-down existing barriers to participation, then by default marginalization occurs. The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership by Facilitating Power
Create developmental stages that allow the City to recognize where they are at, and set goals for where they can go through conscious and collective practice. This is key to transforming systems and building capacity for communities currently impacted by poverty, pollution, and political disenfranchisement to have increasingly more control over the resources needed to live, such as food, housing, water, and energy. The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership by Facilitating Power
Design community engagement pathways that take into considerations all of the different factors that can deter people from being included in planning processes, use approaches appropriate for the community. Allocate sufficient time and opportunities for engagement to avoid rushing the process and tokenizing community participation. This will promote capacity building so that community stakeholders are able to provide meaningful feedback and decisions. CEJA SB1000 Toolkit
Prepare public notices and other materials in the predominant language(s) spoken in the community and provide interpretation services at meetings as needed. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Make public notices and other important documents available in print at local libraries, community centers, or other gathering places. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Schedule, format, and locate community workshops and meetings to be convenient for community members and provide childcare. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Use social media, virtual meeting platforms, and other communication techniques for those without time or ability to attend public meetings Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Consider data that reflects the economic, gender, age, and racial diversity of the affected population. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Clearly explain potential adverse impacts of a proposed project in plain language that is easily understood by the target community. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Establish an ongoing environmental justice advisory group comprised of community members from disadvantaged communities to advise and assist the County in addressing disproportionate health, safety, and welfare in disadvantaged communities. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Support community events, such as block parties and community service days, that support social connections, neighborhood identity, and behavioral health. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Identify, initiate, and formalize partnerships with community organizations and leaders in disadvantaged communities to ensure that local residents can make significant contributions to planning processes. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Ensure that public comment is prioritized with the first hour of a public meeting in order to yield best community participation. Expand the range of engagement methods used with communities in meetings by using tools such as live chat options that can capture community voice. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Design capacity-building workshops to support community-driven policy development and to lead to the translation of community priorities into policy, policy reform language, and technical tools. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Go to places where people already gather to allow community members to give input at a time that is convenient for them and without a large time commitment. Meeting stakeholders in locations they are familiar and comfortable with can also help to bridge cultural and trust gaps. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Co-develop equity metrics (or planning to implement pre-existing metrics). Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Co-fundraise with community-based organizations. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Co-plan community engagement events and activities with community based organizations (CBOs) Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Goal
Ensure everyone has access to housing in a way that takes into consideration the systematic disenfranchisement of frontline communities and addresses the root causes of the housing crisis.
Strategy Actions Source
Advance zoning and implementation changes that encourage sustainable, small and mid-sized, multi-family, and workforce housing, especially in lower density neighborhoods. Prioritize affordable housing in cultural districts and other relevant geographies with historically marginalized racial or ethnic identities to encourage their stabilization. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Amend the zoning ordinance to ensure that the City requires zoning to facilitate emergency shelters and limits the City’s ability to deny emergency shelters and transitional and supportive housing under the Housing Accountability Act. The Zoning Code can include locational and operational criteria for homeless shelters such as hours of operation, provisions for operations and management, and compliance with County and State health and safety requirements for food, medical and other supportive services provided on-site. Richmond General Plan 2030 Housing Element
Provide financial assistance and education to lower income, small property owners to add housing (such as ADUs) and rehabilitate existing units that are healthy and resource efficient. San Francisco Climate Action Plan , Sausalito General Plan
Implement permit streamlining for new housing that exceeds current inclusionary and sustainability requirements. San Francisco Climate Action Plan , Sausalito General Plan
Expand form-based zoning to increase multi-family housing in low-density neighborhoods near transit, jobs, services, parks, high quality schools, and other amenities. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Ensure housing and protections for housing during climate hazard events. Consider measures to address the potential for loss or displacement of affordable or lower cost housing in the City’s climate change adaptation planning. San Rafael General Plan
Work with community-based organizations to develop and support temporary housing solutions for lower-income immigrants, older adults, and other at-risk groups during and after an emergency. San Rafael General Plan
Provide incentives to relocate development out of hazardous areas and to acquire at risk properties, where relocation is not feasible. May also consider an acquisition and buyout program which includes the acquiring of land from the landowner(s) which are typically demolished or relocated with the property restored and future development on the land is restricted. Requires a supporting funding mechanism like a community land trust or repetitive loss program. MTC Resilient Housing Policies
Equitable access to safe and sanitary homes among all communities so that no resident has to live in an unsafe or unhealthy place. Ensure that future improvements in disadvantaged communities will not produce a net loss of affordable housing or the displacement of residents. In order for an application for a major development project to be deemed complete, require applicants to document to the City's satisfaction how the project will promote environmental justice, including how the project will ensure the following: - Its costs and benefits will be shared equitably; - Its economic opportunities will be shared equitably; - It will not displace existing residents or businesses in disadvantaged communities; - It will avoid direct, indirect, or unintended negative impacts on the quality of life of residents within disadvantaged communities; - Prioritize clean-up of illegal dumping in disadvantaged communities. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Obtain funding for, address barriers to, and increase participation in the weatherization program for extremely low, very low, and low-income homeowners, landlords, and renters, as well as in other programs to provide resources to bring older properties up to Code and improve their livability. Make minor home repairs and energy improvements, and improve health and quality of life. Focus these resources on homes in disadvantaged communities, and in particular rental housing and high density housing. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
In collaboration with nonprofit and for-profit developers, obtain funding for and establish community land trusts serving each disadvantaged community that will support long-term community ownership and housing affordability. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Expand the first-time homebuyer program to provide more education and assistance, prioritizing outreach and marketing in disadvantaged communities to spread awareness of the program. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Incentivize and streamline public and private investment in new development or redevelopment that promotes community goals in disadvantaged communities, as identified in the community profiles. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
For projects that would significantly impact a disadvantaged community, pursue community benefits agreements that achieve the goals identified in the community profile. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
By X year, establish codes and regulations that facilitate use of new materials (e.g. cross-laminated-timber) and new technology (e.g. modular housing) to lower costs and increase resource efficiency of construction. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Assist low-income homeowners in maintaining and improving residential properties through housing rehabilitation and energy efficiency assistance programs Provide financial support to non-profit organizations providing fair housing services. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Promote the development of a 15 minute neighborhood to provide active, walkable, bicycle-friendly, transit-oriented, mixed-use urban settings for new housing and job growth attractive to an innovative workforce and consistent with the city’s environmental goals. San Jose General Plan
Goal
Transform our system beyond extractive practices to one that prioritizes a healthy environmental, high quality jobs, and a green economy, without leaving anyone behind.
Strategy Actions Source
Take a holistic and all encompassing approach to phase out fossil fuels while leaving no one behind. Until fossil fuel industries are phased out, require any proposed project requiring a use permit for a fossil fuel industry or its accessory infrastructure that would impact a disadvantaged community to include early and substantial community engagement as part of the permitting process. As conditions of approval, such projects must include substantial community benefits that support the goals identified in the community profile. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
In coordination with impacted communities, workers, and business/industry, develop and implement a plan to phase out fossil fuel and other highly polluting industries and transition to just, equitable, and clean industries that offer fair or living-wage jobs. The plan should address site remediation responsibility and strategies to improve the health, safety, infrastructure, job opportunities, and revenue opportunities during the shift to a zero emission/clean energy economy, paying special attention to helping develop new opportunities for how disadvantaged communities will realize economic, health, and other benefits. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Expand access to green jobs, general workforce development, and other economic mobility opportunities. Collaborate to develop a “Just Transition” plan and task force that examines the impact of the transition to a cleaner economy on disadvantaged workers, identifies strategies for supporting displaced workers, and develops recommendations for ensuring inclusive employment practices within growth sectors of the economy. pLAn LA
Expand green construction training and apprenticeship programs to grow the local pool of skilled labor and reduce construction costs. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Create workforce development and education training programs with career pathways for residents of the project area. Education and training can include pre-apprenticeship programs that are tied to state-certified apprenticeships; training programs that lead to occupations and industries that support proposal implementation, reduce barriers for and reflect the range of employment readiness needs of local residents and individuals with employment barriers, and partner with local workforce development boards and other key stakeholders, including organized labor and education providers; align and enhance high-performing education and training programs that have a proven record of leading to industry-recognized credentials and labor market advancement. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Goal
Design healthy resilient neighborhoods that have the tools to protect residents from a multitude of climate hazards, especially frontline communities that are the most vulnerable to risk. Make sure these places are spaces that reflect the physical and mental needs of residents, creating opportunities for growth and community solidarity.
Strategy Actions Source
Invest in urban greening projects that improve the physical well-being of communities and protect against risks such as extreme heat and days with poor air quality. Prioritize new street tree plantings and increase the tree canopy in disadvantaged communities, in particular areas with a high heat index. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Increase urban forest cover starting with communities impacted by recent fires and disadvantaged communities. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Map tree canopy gaps in cities and prioritize urban canopy expansion in communities vulnerable to urban heat effects, utilizing tools such as the Tree Equity Score. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Prepare an urban forest master plan for the county that includes quantified goals and tracking methods, prioritizing disadvantaged communities. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Develop and implement a plan to provide clean air refuges like a climate resilience hub during times when outdoor air quality is unhealthy. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Preserve, restore, and enhance natural landscapes in and near disadvantaged communities for their role in improving air quality and community health. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Decrease contamination and pollution, prioritizing frontline communities. Advocate for and coordinate with local and regional agencies in efforts to remediate or treat contaminated surface water, groundwater, or soils in or affecting disadvantaged communities. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Maintain data on environmental hazards, such as soil and groundwater contamination and the vulnerability of the population to such hazards, using sources such as Cal Enviroscreen. San Rafael General Plan
Increase the density and diversity of land uses across jurisdiction. Explicitly specify in polices and grant programs how much of the project budget can go towards the following activities: community engagement, outreach, workforce development, and capacity building (including technical assistance) Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
To the extent feasible, give priority to multi-benefit recreational projects that maximize pollution reduction and adaptation, carbon sequestration, heat-island reduction, stormwater capture that increase infiltration, habitat protection and biodiversity, community health improvements, promote innovative public-private partnerships, or a combination thereof. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Design public space and the transportation system (including roadways) to advance racial and social equity by co-developing public spaces with Black,Indigenous, People of Color community members and understanding their needs before designing the space. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Build community capacity/knowledge around issues of climate adaptation. Create and deliver a range of resources to train residents, city gardening staff, and other institutions on how to incorporate biodiversity, soil, and carbon sequestration techniques into landscaping and gardening projects. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Protect against eco-gentrification and other unintended harms that may come with community improvement projects. Provide priority access to housing developed for community residents and those who have been displaced. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Include displacement avoidance language to ensure that any efforts designed to implement the policy or grant program project are aware of the threat of displacement and build anti-displacement strategies into the effort. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Increase equitable access to safe, affordable, clean, multi-modal transportation. Support improvements to transit, bikeways, and sidewalks in disadvantaged communities to make active transportation more accessible and user-friendly while decreasing vehicle speeds, congestion, and air pollution. Prioritize infrastructure projects identified in disadvantaged community profiles. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Develop a program to establish, maintain, and enforce truck routes in the unincorporated county. This program should establish criteria for designating truck routes, signage, and enforcement mechanisms. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Protecting neighborhoods from multiple climate threats. Implement improvements to move or protect critical public assets threatened by sea level rise or rising groundwater. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Incorporate procedures into emergency and hazard mitigation plans to take care of vulnerable populations during hazardous events. Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook
Identify vulnerable populations (such as non-English speaking residents, frail older adults, young children, and persons with disabilities) that may need assistance in times of disaster. Develop outreach programs that are geared toward these populations, including multilingual communications. San Rafael General Plan
Improve resilience planning for climate change, public health emergencies, and other community stressors among non-English speaking and lower-income populations. Increase awareness of sea level rise and flooding risks in the Canal area and in other vulnerable areas, as well as the importance of adaptation measures. San Rafael General Plan
Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories, and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used or acquired. Land rights, recognition, and repatriation should be considered in direct and specific engagement with Tribal Governments through a formal engagement process and alignment with Tribal Government priorities and decisions when identifying greenbelt lands for permanent protection, particularly when public funds are at play. Greenbelt Alliance The Critical Role of Greenbelts in Wildfire Resilience
Consult Tribal Governments at every step in identifying and stewarding greenbelts for wildfire defense and resilience and incorporate traditional knowledge. Greenbelt Alliance The Critical Role of Greenbelts in Wildfire Resilience
The County should strive to maintain partnerships with tribal governments, state, local, and federal agencies to identify, prioritize, and implement fire prevention and protection measures in the County. Santa Barbara County
Provide an opportunity for communities to negotiate environmental priorities and projects through community benefits agreements, for example creating public green spaces, adopting sound design standards, or installing green infrastructure and rooftop solar when possible. Contra Costa General Plan (forthcoming)
Protect and increase access to natural resources in tandem with necessary climate adaptation. If a city has a coast line, provide physical access to coastal resource areas for all segments of the population. Imperial Beach General Plan
Secure adequate and reliable funding for the development, rehabilitation, programming and maintenance of parks, community, and recreation facilities, trails, greenways, and open space areas. Sausalito General Plan , Sausalito Climate Action Plan
For projects that would significantly impact a disadvantaged community, pursue community benefits agreements that achieve the goals identified in the community profile. Sausalito General Plan , Sausalito Climate Action Plan
Invest in multi-benefit water management solutions that diversify and increase reliability of the water supply, reduce dependency on imported water, prioritize solutions that mimic natural systems, and maximize benefits to Native and disadvantaged communities. pLAn LA
Require new development and substantial redevelopment projects to minimize impacts to existing public access to and along the shoreline. Hermosa Beach Integrated General Plan and Coastal Land Use Plan