People’s Climate March NYC 2014 #peoplesclimate Selected City Project’s Photo as Cover Photo

September 22nd, 2014

Flickr__The_People_s_Climate_March_NYC_2014_Pool

“Congrats! The photo NYC People’s Climate Justice March
9/20/2014 Central Park West you added to the group People’s
Climate March NYC 2014 has been selected to be its cover
photo.See how it looks here:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/peoplesclimate2014/

NYC People’s March Climate Justice 9/21/2014

September 21st, 2014

NYC People's Climate Justice March 9/20/2014

Visit The City Project’s flickr gallery on the People’s March for Climate Justice in NYC

“From as close as the Bronx and as far as at least Rome, the demonstrators came in vast numbers. At one point early in the afternoon, the march came to a halt because the entire 2.2-mile route was full, and more than two hours into the procession, people were still setting out from the starting point near Columbus Circle.

“Organizers, using data provided by 35 crowd spotters and analyzed by a mathematician from Carnegie Mellon University, estimated that 311,000 people marched the route.The signs that marchers held were as varied as the movement: ‘There Is No Planet B,’ ‘Forests Not for Sale’ and ‘Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy.’”

Read the complete story in the New York Times . . .

Parks Forward; San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Best Practice Framework; 9/21 Climate March; City Project 15th Year

September 19th, 2014

Click on the headlines for more information.

Parks Forward, Health, and Environmental Justice and Quality For All

The City Project and diverse allies applaud the excellent work of the Parks Forward Commission to transform the California State Park System. The Commission’s July 30, 2014, draft Parks Forward Plan for a vibrant, sustainable park system for California does indeed offer the promise of transforming state parks for all the people of California and other visitors.

We urge the Commission to amplify, expand, and be explicit in certain areas to strengthen the final Plan and recommendations. Thus, for example:

1. There are documented disparities in access to green space based on race, color, or national origin throughout the state.
2. Evidence based research shows that these disparities contribute to racial and ethnic health disparities.
3. Civil rights and environmental justice laws and principles require agencies, including the California Department of Parks and Recreation, to alleviate these disparities. Federal agencies provide best practice examples of how to do this.
4. Highlighting the diverse values at stake can bring stakeholders together to support transformational change in the State Park System.

As Commissioner Manuel Pastor has written in a related context, “[W]hen society’s rewards—including the right to breathe clean air[,] live far away from toxic wastes[, and enjoy parks]—are systematically distributed by race, it is better to know than to remain dangerously ignorant.”

San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area Best Practice Frameworfor Environmental Quality, Health, and Environmental Justice

Bridge to Nowhere East Branch San Gabriel River

Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep on the East Bank of the San Gabriel River

Diverse allies working with the San Gabriel Mountains Forever (SGMF) coalition seek to diversify access to and support for the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed through (1) proposed legislation for a national recreation area, and for wilderness and wild and scenic river designations; (2) national monument designation; and (3) compliance with environmental and health justice laws and principles.

The comprehensive Special Resource Study completed by the National Park Service has served as a helpful precursor to potential legislation or administrative action for the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed, as has NPS’s national work on Healthy Parks, Healthy People. We often refer to these resources to inspire and inform our own work. This provides one strong framework to sustain environmental quality, health and environmental justice commitments over the long-term, spanning administrations.

Diverse allies ranging from health and environmental justice advocates to mainstream environmental organizations have submitted comments adopting the above framework to support specific outcomes to address environmental quality, health, and environmental justice in the San Gabriels Mountains and Watershed. See the full story for the August 26, 2014, letter to President Barack Obama, and the August 12, 2014, Memo from the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Campaign.

9/21 NYC Centered on Justice Join the Largest Climate March in History

This is an invitation to change everything.

In September, world leaders are going to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

To change everything, we need everyone on board.

Sunday, September 21 in New York City. Join us.

“Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are”

The City Project celebrates our 15th year of casting down our bucket where we are!

CES POC 20140915

People of color disproportionately live in the areas of the state that are the most burdened for pollution, and are the most vulnerable to health risks.  Click on the map for a larger image.

 

Parks Forward, Health, and Environmental Justice and Quality For All

September 19th, 2014

The City Project and diverse allies applaud the excellent work of the Parks Forward Commission to transform the California State Park System. The Commission’s July 30, 2014, draft Parks Forward Plan for a vibrant, sustainable park system for California does indeed offer the promise of transforming state parks for all the people of California and other visitors.

We agree with the two overarching findings in the draft Plan: One, the system does not provide a park experience that serves all Californians or attracts other potential visitors. Two, the State Park System is debilitated by outdated organizational structures, technologies, and business tools, and by a culture that does not adequately reward excellence or innovation. Fundamental change and transformational reform is necessary. Modest incremental change and more funding are not enough.

We urge the Commission to amplify, expand, and be explicit in certain areas to strengthen the final Plan and recommendations. We strongly urge the Commission to explicitly address disparities in green access and health based on race, color, or national origin, and the civil rights and environmental justice tools that are available to alleviate those disparities through the planning and implementation process. Thus, for example:

1. There are documented disparities in access to green space based on race, color, or national origin throughout the state.
2. Evidence based research shows that these disparities contribute to racial and ethnic health disparities.
3. Civil rights and environmental justice laws and principles require agencies, including the California Department of Parks and Recreation, to alleviate these disparities. Federal agencies provide best practice examples of how to do this.
4. Highlighting the diverse values at stake can bring stakeholders together to support transformational change in the State Park System.

As Commissioner Manuel Pastor has written in a related context, “[W]hen society’s rewards—including the right to breathe clean air[,] live far away from toxic wastes[, and enjoy parks]—are systematically distributed by race, it is better to know than to remain dangerously ignorant.”

We agree: The final Plan must provide a ready road map for state government and community leadership. Federal agencies in California offer best practice examples of a roadmap and framework for the Commission, the Department, and the people to address more effectively green access, health, and social justice to transform the State Park System through the planning and implementation process. These best practices include the National Park Service final study and recommendation for the proposed San Gabriel National Recreation Area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers draft study for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development decision that resulted in the creation of Los Angeles State Historic Park. We urge the Commission to use the framework in order to strengthen the final Plan and its implementation, and ultimately to improve the State Park System for all.

Thus, for example, people of color disproportionately live in the areas of the state that are the most burdened for pollution, and are the most vulnerable to health risks.

CES POC 20140915

Click on the map for a larger image

As the preceding map illustrates dramatically:

  1. In the areas with the 10% highest CES score (most burdened) for pollution burden and vulnerability, fully 89% of the people are of color; only 11% are non-Hispanic white people. Statewide, the population average is 58% people of color.
  2. In the areas with the 10% lowest CES score (least burdened) for pollution burden and vulnerability, only 31% of the people are of color; fully 69% are non-Hispanic white people.
  3. 64% of people of color in the state live in areas with the 50% highest CES scores (most burdened) for pollution burden and vulnerability; only 31% of non-Hispanic white people live in those areas.
  4. Only 36% of people of color in the state live in areas with the 50% lowest CES scores for pollution burden and vulnerability; fully 69% of non-Hispanic white people live in those areas.

Visitors to state parks are disproportionately non-Hispanic white, as illustrated by the following map based on state park surveys.

CAStateParksSurvey 20140916

Click on the map for a larger image

To learn more please see the attached public comments to the Parks Forward Commission from the following diverse allies: The City Project, Amigos de los Rios, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance, Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON), Robert Bracamontes, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Conservation Law Foundation, EndOil/Communities for Clean Ports, Friends of the River, Global Community Monitor, State Senator Tom Hayden (ret.), Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), Latinos Outdoors, Los Angeles Wilderness Training, Multicultural Communities for Mobility, National Parks Conservation Association, New Mexico Environmental Law Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Social Justice Consultancy, and SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center).

The Parks Forward Commission should ensure that the final Plan promotes health and environmental justice and quality for all through the transformation of the State Parks System.

US Army Corps of Engineers LA River Study Best Practice Framework for Revitalization of the Los Angeles River

September 19th, 2014

The City Project along with diverse allies, including the Los Angeles Business Council, civil rights, health, and environmental justice organizations, youth advocates, and mainstream environmentalists are working to diversify access to and support for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River that promotes environmental quality, health and environmental justice.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) draft 2013 study for the revitalization of 11 miles of the Los Angeles River is a best practice framework. This USACE study recognizes there are unfair disparities in access to green space for people of color and low-income people in Los Angeles, that those disparities contribute to unfair health disparities, and that environmental justice requires agencies to address those disparities. [1]

ace lar report

The Values at Stake

The values at stake in river restoration include

  • Fun, health, and human development.
  • Conservation values including clean air, water, and land, complete green streets with transit, biking, hiking, and safe routes to schools, saving habitat, and climate justice.
  • Economic values: This includes jobs and apprenticeships for youth, diversification of government contracts to involve local workforce, the ramifications of gentrification and potential displacement of lower income residents and businesses as greening improves their communities, and increasing home ownership and support for small business.
  • Art, culture, and spiritual values.
  • Equal justice, democracy, and livability for all.

Engaging stakeholders by promoting the values at stake will diversify support for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River.

The Planning Process

The following planning process applies to federal agencies and recipients of federal funding to help ensure compliance and equity under environmental justice and civil rights laws and principles.

1. Describe what you plan to do.

2. Analyze the benefits and burdens on all people, including people of color and low income people.

3. Include people of color and low income people in the decision making process.

4. Analyze the alternatives.

5. Develop an implementation and monitoring plan to distribute benefits and burdens fairly.

There are several best practice examples on how to use civil rights and environmental justice tools for healthy green land use through planning by and for the community. The noted USACE draft study is one. The National Parks Service Special Resource Study is another. This study has served as a helpful precursor to potential legislation or administrative action for the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed, as has NPS’s national work on Healthy Parks, Healthy People. [2]

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a third best practice example. Andrew Cuomo, as Secretary of HUD, would not issue federal subsidies for a proposed warehouse project in downtown L.A. unless there was a full environmental study that considered the impact on people of color and low-income people, and considered the park alternative. HUD cited Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations in reaching that decision. HUD’s action led to the creation of the L.A. State Historic Park and the greening of the L.A. River.

In addition, the Federal Transit Administration articulates these compliance and planning principles in its guidance on Title VI and Executive Order 12898. [3] The United States Department of Agriculture has articulated these compliance and planning principles as well. [4] United States Forest Service staff have played a leading role analyzing management alternatives to address how diverse people engage with natural green space and recreation differently based on their own values, cultures, histories, and traditions. [5]

USACE’s Analysis of Green Access and Health Disparities

The following considerations help inform work around environmental quality, health and environmental justice both locally and nationally, and help inform the planning process.

The USACE draft study documents disparities in access to green space in Los Angeles:

“Many local organizations have stressed the importance of making sure that the River’s revitalization addresses environmental justice issues…Of key concern in Los Angeles is the growing disparity of access to and use of open space resources, including parks, ball fields, and natural areas by those living in low-income communities of color.” LA River Study at 3-86. USACE cites the President’s Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health, and related laws and principles. Id.

The draft study recognizes that “[m]uch of Los Angeles is considered to be park deficient which refers to any geographic area that provides less than 3 acres of green space per 1,000 residents, as defined by California law (GreenInfo Network 2010). In particular, the industrial areas…have the least parkland, with fewer than 3 acres per 1,000 people…In general, access to parks and acres of parkland per 1,000 residents is lowest in areas that have the highest number of families below the poverty line of $47,331.” Id. p. 3-61.

And we are also cognizant that “[a]ccording to Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), public parks are intended to serve all residents, but not all neighborhoods and people have equal access to these public resources. SCAG calls for a multiagency effort and public transportation to improve access for all to parks throughout Southern California (SCAG 2008).” Id. 

The 11 mile stretch in the LA River Study is predominantly low-income communities of color. The Hispanic or Latino population is about 50%, the Caucasian population about 30%, the Asian population 14%, and the Black population at 4% of the study area. Id. p. 3-86 – 3-87. Furthermore, “about two-thirds of the population’s primary language spoken at home is a language other than English. About 45 percent of the population in the study area tracts speaks Spanish at home, 32 percent speak English, and the remaining 23 percent speak other languages.” Id. p. 3-87.

The health concerns documented in the Los Angeles River study area reflect concerns and disparities across the nation. The National Park Service Healthy Parks, Healthy People Community Engagement Resource eGuide, for example, documents health and green access disparities in the US that reflect the disparities in California. For example:

  • Nationally, 49% of American adults report that they do not engage in the Surgeon General’s recommended 30 minutes of physical activity for most days of the week.
  • 18% of the US Gross Domestic Product goes to health care costs.
  • Health disparities remain widespread among members of racial and ethnic minority populations.
  • Minorities or Populations of color are far more likely than non-Hispanic whites to suffer from chronic conditions, many of which are preventable.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States.
  • Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity (44.1%) followed by Mexican Americans (39.3%).
  • Compared to non-Hispanic whites, the risk of diagnosed diabetes is 18% higher among Asian Americans, 66% higher among Hispanics/ Latinos, and 77% higher among non-Hispanic blacks.
  • People of color and low income populations still face disparities regarding health and access to parks.
  • Proximity to parks and other green spaces has benefits for health and health-related behavior, especially of urban residents, and aids in reducing health disparities among populations.

 eGuide, p. 9-10.

Human health includes a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely alleviating chronic diseases including obesity and diabetesaccording to the World Health Organization and NPS’s Healthy Parks, Healthy People U.S. Strategic Action Plan.[6] The USACE draft 2013 study explicitly lays out a regulatory framework to address these environmental justice issues as follows.

Civil Rights and Environmental Justice Laws and Principles

The USACE draft study cites Federal Executive Order 12898:

“Federal Executive Order 12898 was signed by President Bill Clinton on February 11, 1994, to focus Federal attention on the environmental and human health conditions of minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities. The Order directed Federal agencies to develop environmental justice strategies to aid Federal agencies identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. Environmental justice concerns may arise from impacts on the natural and physical environment, such as human health or ecological impacts on minority populations, low-income populations, and Indian tribes, or from related social or economic impacts.”

LA River Study p. 5-106

It also cites California state regulations:

“In addition to its prioritization by the Federal government, California was one of the first states in the Nation to pass legislation to codify environmental justice in state statute, defining ‘environmental justice’ as ‘The fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.’ (Government Code Section 65040.12).”

Id.

Conclusion

The process to revitalize the Los Angeles River must follow the roadmap and framework to address disparities found by the USAGE draft Study and other Federal agencies. This can be done through a planning process that ensures voluntary compliance with civil rights and environmental justice laws and principles in the revitalization process. Federal agencies provide best practices for a framework (1) to address such evidence of disparities, (2) to promote the values at stake, (3) through voluntary compliance in the planning process, (4) applying those laws and principle. Applying USACE’s best practice framework will revitalize the Los Angeles River and promote health and environmental justice values for all.

by Michelle Kao, City Project Intern UCLA ’15

***

Resources

[1] USACE, Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Feasibility Report. The complete draft study is available at http://www.spl.usace.army.mil/Portals/17/docs/publicnotices/DraftIntegratedReport.pdf.

[2] NPS, Healthy Parks, Healthy People Community Engagement Resource eGuide. The complete eGuide is available at www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp/press/HealthyParksHealthyPeople_eGuide.pdf.

[3] Federal Transit Administration, Environmental justice policy guidance for Federal Transit Administration recipients, Circular (FTA C 4703.1) (Washington, DC: Department of Transportation, Aug. 15, 2012); FTA, Title VI Requirements and Guidelines for Federal Transit Administration Recipients, Circular (FTA C 4702.1B) (Washington, DC: Oct. 1, 2012); Letters from FTA to Metropolitan Transportation Commission and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (Jan. 15, 2010 and Feb. 12, 2010), available at www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/4468.

[4] Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Dep’t of Agric., DR 4300-4, Civil Rights Impact Analysis (2003), availableat www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/DR4300-4.pdf.

[5] See, e.g., Deborah J. Chavez, Mexican-American Outdoor Recreation: Home, Community & Natural Environment, proceedings paper, Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences 5, 41-43 (2003); Deborah J. Chavez, Adaptive Management in Outdoor Recreation: Serving Hispanics in Southern California, 17 (3) West. J. Applied Forestry 132 (July 2002).

[6] Healthy Parks, Healthy People U.S. Strategic Action Plan (2011) at 8, citing Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June – 22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. See WHO FAQ at www.who.int/suggestions/faq/en/.

9/21 NYC Centered on Justice Join the Largest Climate March in History

September 18th, 2014

This is an invitation to change everything.

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

To change everything, we need everyone on board.

Sunday, September 21 in New York City. Join us.

Centered on Justice

Committed to principles of environmental justice and equality — representing the communities that are being hit the hardest by climate change.

Unprecedented Collaboration

Over 1,400 (!) businesses, unions, faith groups, schools, social justice groups, environmental groups and more, all working together.

Massive Scale

We’ll peacefully flood the streets in historic numbers, both in New York City and in solidarity events around the world.

Perfect Timing

World leaders will be gathered in NYC for a landmark U.N. climate meeting — just the right moment for big public pressure.

Sign up now

Flyer in English

Flyer in Spanish

Bolivia World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
The City Project’s board member Tom Hayden and Director-Counsel Robert García will take part in the People’s March in NYC. Robert was a delegate to the Cochabamba Bolivia World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

Power Couples Erica Flores Baltodano & Hernaldo Baltodano in Love and in Business

September 17th, 2014

The City Project salutes Erica, our National Advisory Council member and former Associate Director and Counsel, and founding partner of the Baltodano & Baltodano law firm. Watch their interview at http://bbemploymentlaw.com/

photo

Restore Martin’s Beach Access

September 16th, 2014

martins beach

The City Project and diverse allies support SB968 authored by Senator Jerry Hill to address the closure of public access to Martin’s Beach in unincorporated San Mateo County.

The beach–a coastal gem hidden away south of Half Moon Bay–has been visited by local families and vacationers for generations going back a century, providing a place to relax and recreate with family and friends. Unfortunately, the billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who bought the property landward of Martin’s Beach in 2008, closed off public access to Martin’s Beach Road, the sole vertical access to Martin’s Beach, in 2010. Khosla knew that public access needed to be maintained. Efforts by many parties to negotiate with Khosla to maintain public access have not been successful.

The SB968 Bill seeks to outline a process and timeframe for restoring public access to Martin’s Beach. If access cannot be negotiated, this bill demonstrates support for the State Lands Commission to pursue other means to acquire a right of way or easement.

The City Project has worked with diverse allies for over a decade to Free the Beach! and keep public trails open for all. See, for example:

Robert García and Erica Flores Baltodano, Free the Beach! Public Access, Equal Justice, and the California Coast, 2 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 143 (2005)

Saving the Native American Sacred Site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach, The Acjachemen Victory, L.A. Times Editorial, December 27, 2008

Bali Hoi Polloi: Public Gains Entry at Geffen’s Beachhead, Washington Post, May 26, 2005

Celebrating the African American Resort at Bruce’s Beach 2007

Keeping Historic Altadena trails free for all, Los Angeles County v La Viña Homeowners Association 2009

Keeping Historic Canyonback Trails Free for All 2006

To read our last post about Martin’s Beach please click here.

Michelle Kao, City Project Intern, UCLA 2015

“Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are”

September 15th, 2014

A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: “Water, water. We die of thirst.” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: “Cast down your bucket where you are.”

A second time, the signal, “Water, send us water!” went up from the distressed vessel. And was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.”

A third and fourth signal for water was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River.

“Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are”: Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise Speech

The City Project celebrates September 15 – our fifteenth year of casting down our bucket where we are, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Guatemalan Independence Day.

Zion National Park

September 12th, 2014

Zion National Park