Transportation Obstacles Show Need for Transit to Trails

July 27th, 2015

Transit to Trails takes inner city youth and their families and friends on fun, educational, and healthy trips to parks, rivers, mountains, and beaches.

Transportation is a significant barrier for many residents from low income neighborhoods and communities of color to reach mountains, beaches, and rivers. Many Los Angeles families do not have access to a car, or reliable, inexpensive transit.

Adam Kehoss, a student at Cal State Pomona, has analyzed what it takes to get from park poor parts of L.A. to the mountains by transit or car.

  • To go from East L.A. to the Santa Monica Mountains, by transit it costs $2.50 and takes 165 minutes. By car, it costs $20 and takes 46 minutes.
  • To go from East L.A. to the Angeles National Forest, by transit it costs $2.50 and takes 119 minutes. By car, it costs $12 and takes 37 minutes.
  • To go from South Central L.A. to the Santa Monica Mountains, by transit it costs $2.50 and takes 84 minutes. By car, it costs $18 and takes 41 minutes.
  • To go from South Central L.A. to the Angeles National Forest, by transit it costs $2.50 and takes 135 minutes. By car, it costs $22 and takes 80 minutes.

Mr. Kehoss presents his results in the graphs and table below. His analysis highlights the need for Transit to Trails. Click on the images to see a larger version.

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Transit to Trails can get people to parks now efficiently and inexpensively. Transit to Trails provides opportunities for youth and their families to learn about water, land, wildlife, and cultural history, and engage in physical activity. It also helps reduce traffic congestion and parking problems, improve air quality, and reduce run-off of polluted water into rivers and the ocean by providing a more accessible public transportation, according to the National Park Service (NPS).

Every agency or group that has spoken on the issue has endorsed Transit to Trails programs. This includes:

  • President Barack Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, which includes transportation grants for schools with the greatest need
  • NPS study for the San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area
  • NPS study to expand the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA)
  • NPS Healthy Parks Healthy People Community Engagement eGuide
  • US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles River revitalization study
  • California Parks Forward Commission
  • Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

Transit to Trails, which started as a creative partnership between Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, The City Project, and NPS, is building momentum!

Transit to Trails San Gabriel Mountains

Transit to Trails trip to the San Gabriel Mountains with Anahuak Youth Sports Association, The City Project, and US Forest Service.

Graph and chart Adam Kehoss © 2015.

Environmental Justice and Civil Rights Frequently Asked Questions FTA Best Practices

July 22nd, 2015

The Federal Transit Administration provides best practice examples for how to address environmental justice and civil rights compliance in the planning process. Sample frequently asked questions appear below. While the complete list of FAQs focus on transit, but the principles apply to other programs and activities of federal agencies, or federally funded. 

Questions and Answers

Does the Environmental Justice (EJ) Circular present new requirements for EJ compliance review?

No. FTA’s EJ Circular 4703.1, published in August 2012, does not introduce new requirements. FTA developed the Circular to clarify existing requirements, reiterate the importance of environmental justice considerations in transportation planning and project development, and to focus attention on examples of good practice.

What is the difference between Title VI and EJ?

Title VI is a statutory and regulatory requirement and all FTA grantees must comply with the provisions of Title VI. The Title VI Circular can be found at http://www.fta.dot.gov/12328.html. Title VI requirements are broader in scope than environmental justice and grantees should be careful not to mix the two. While they overlap, engaging in an EJ analysis under transportation planning and NEPA provisions will not satisfy Title VI requirements, as outlined in both Circulars. Similarly, a Title VI analysis may not necessarily satisfy environmental justice requirements (one reason is that Title VI does not include low-income populations).

How should grantees demonstrate that they have satisfactorily considered the needs and concerns of EJ populations?

FTA suggests a variety of options for integrating EJ considerations into existing programs, planning and project development processes, including:

  • Ensuring that the level and quality of . . . service is provided in a non-discriminatory manner: for example, when considering . . . options, grantees should take into account the challenges faced by low-income and minority households . . . .
  • Promoting full and fair participation in . . . decision-making without regard to race, color, national origin or income: for example, grantees should . . . be able to demonstrate how they seek out and consider the needs of those traditionally underserved by existing . . . systems and should periodically review the effectiveness of the procedures, strategies, and desired outcomes contained in their public participation plan to ensure a full and open participation process, which considers the needs of low-income and minority households.
  • Ensuring meaningful access to . . . programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency: for example, grantees can prepare additional literature in the languages which are predominant in their regions.

What groups are included in EJ populations?

EJ populations include minority or low-income populations.

* * *

See the full list of the FTA’s Environmental Justice Frequently Asked Questions here.

In addition to the FAQs, FTA has published circulars and letters on how to apply environmental justice and civil rights laws and principles. For example:

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).

See Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH; Marc Brenman; Marianne Engelman Lado, JD; and Robert García, JD, Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities (The City Project Policy Report 2014)

Pope Francis It is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions

July 22nd, 2015

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Pope Francis writes on caring about climate, creation, and the poor and underprivileged:

Many intensive forms of environmental exploitation and degradation not only exhaust the resources which provide local communities with their livelihood, but also undo the social structures which, for a long time, shaped cultural identity and their sense of the meaning of life and community. The disappearance of a culture can be just as serious, or even more serious, than the disappearance of a species of plant or animal. The imposition of a dominant lifestyle linked to a single form of production can be just as harmful as the altering of ecosystems. 145.

Bolivia World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

In this sense, it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed. For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. When they remain on their land, they themselves care for it best. Nevertheless, in various parts of the world, pressure is being put on them to abandon their homelands to make room for agricultural or mining projects which are undertaken without regard for the degradation of nature and culture. 146.

Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home

Los Angeles

Climate is a civil rights issue as well as a health, economic, and environmental issue.

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From the top: People’s Climate March NYC culturalsurvival.org; Cochamba World People’s Conference on Climate Justice and the Rights of Mother Earth; Guatemalan Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú; Cochamba World People’s Conference on Climate Justice and the Rights of Mother Earth; Spirit Circle c Ricardo Duffy

The Cuban people are not our enemies. Todos somos Americanos!

July 21st, 2015

The City Project celebrates the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., and the US embassy in Habana.

The Cuban people are not our enemies. I drafted legislation to restore relations with Cuba in 1974. The legislation and remarks I prepared for Congressman Michael Harrington (D-MA) appear in the Congressional Record, 120 Cong. Rec. H25577-78 (1974).

I visited Cuba twice in 2000, and again with the American Public Health Association in 2010. The Cuban people have a right to better health care and education than millions of other people in Latin America – and in the US.

Pope Francis brokered the restoration of relations between Cuba and the US.

Latino leaders including The City Project support ending the US blockade against Cuba.

The US must vacate the naval base and return Guantanamo to the Cuban people.

Habana Cuba Plaza de la Catedral 2000

Our man in Habana with a mojito and Cohiba at the Plaza de la Catedral

See The City Project’s photo gallery of Cuba.

US EPA Civil Rights, Environmental Justice, and Pope Francis EJ 2020 Public Comments

July 20th, 2015

A diverse and growing alliance including The City Project submitted public comments regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed strategic plan on environmental justice and health, which will be called EJ 2020.

These comments highlight leadership and best practice examples for EPA to ensure compliance with civil rights, and environmental justice and health, laws and principles.

In Pope Francis’s encyclical on caring about our common home, the Pope counsels us to care about climate, care for creation, and care for the poor and underprivileged.

EPA’s work and EJ 2020 should reflect the Pope’s encyclical. Indeed, Administrator McCarthy says, “I think the most important thing that we can do, working with the Pope, is to try to remind ourselves that this is really about protecting natural resources that human beings rely on, and that those folks that are most vulnerable — that the church has always been focused on, those in poverty and low income — are the first that are going to be hit and impacted by a changing climate.”

These comments focus on access to parks and green space for people of color and low income people for several reasons. President Barack Obama and other federal authorities – as well as Pope Francis – recognize parks and green space as issues of social justice, and environmental justice and health. EPA should too. EPA should include parks in its online EJ Screen mapping tool, for example. EPA should develop green access standards to measure progress and equity and hold public officials accountable. The best practice examples are not limited to the context of parks and green space. The legal framework and best practices cut across other programs and activities.

Download the public comments here.

Download the attachments here.

The diverse allies include: Amigos de los Rios * Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) * The City Project * Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) * Jean Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society * Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) * Los Angeles Wilderness Training * New Mexico Environmental Law Center * Social Justice Consultancy * Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC).

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L.A. River revitalization can provide multibenefit park, health, conservation, climate, economic, and cultural justice for all

 

NPS Rim of the Valley Public Comments Green Access, Climate Justice, Pope Francis

July 20th, 2015

The City Project with diverse allies submitted public comments to the National Park Service regarding the Rim of the Valley Corridor Draft Special Resources Study and Environmental Assessment (April 2015). We commend the National Park Service on a job well done. The Rim of the Valley draft study is a national best practice to address environmental justice and health, and improve green access for underserved communities.

NPS recognizes that there are disparities in access to green space for low income communities and communities of color, that those disparities contribute to health disparities, and that environmental justice requires agencies to address those disparities.

These public comments are intended to improve the proposed expansion for all. Our allies recommend that NPS:

  • Support Alternative D, while keeping the emphasis on increased access to recreation for underserved populations and providing close-to-home recreational opportunities in urban communities.
  • Reflect Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate justice and park access for the poor and disadvantaged in the final study.
  • Address economic vitality. This includes creating local jobs and contracts for diverse enterprises, and avoiding displacement and gentrification as communities become greener, more desirable, and more expensive.
  • Institutionalize Transit to Trails to increase access to public parklands.
  • Ensure compliance with equal justice protections.

NPS recognizes that park and health disparities require NPS to address the effects of the proposed expansion on communities of color and low income communities under the President’s Executive Order 12898 (NPS ROTV draft study, page 278). For the same reasons, NPS needs to ensure that recipients of federal funding from NPS within the NRA boundaries comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits race, color, and national origin discrimination by recipients of financial assistance from federal agencies. Executive Order 12898 requires federal agencies including NPS to make environmental justice part of their mission.

Download the public comments here.

Download the attachments here.

NPS includes The City Project’s map and analyses in its draft study. Click on the map for a larger image. 

Diverse allies include: Amigos de los Rios; Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA); BikeSGV; California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD); The City Project; Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles; Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO); Human Synergy; Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society; Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC); Los Angeles Wilderness Training; Mujeres de la Tierra; National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA); Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); New Mexico Environmental Law Center; Poverty & Race Research Action Council; Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC); and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. 

L.A. River $1.3 Billion Restoration US Army Corps of Engineers KCET Video

July 17th, 2015

Watch the short video about the epic struggle to restore the Los Angeles River.

“When I think about it in terms of making L.A. better and greener for my children and other people’s children, it’s hard not to get emotional. Because that’s really what’s it’s all about, is saving the earth for future generations and our own children.” Robert Garcia, The City Project.

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KPCC The City Project advocates for Transit to Trails service to San Gabriel Mountains

July 14th, 2015

The US Forest Service is deciding how to manage the San Gabriel Mountains. They are now a national monument and the first item for many people is getting people to see them. Robert García is with The City Project. That nonprofit group wants to see a bus or shuttle service that’ll focus mainly on people of color – especially children. “Many of these children live within an hour of the mountains and the beaches and have never been there before,” he said. “For example, immigrant families or low income families don’t know about the availability of the San Gabriel Mountains or they work two or more jobs, don’t have a car.”

The US Forest Service is accepting public comments on how to manage the mountains through July 27.

Click here to listen to The City Project on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio.

Click here to learn more about Transit to Trails.

Green 2.0 Celebrating Green Leaders of Color, including The City Project

July 13th, 2015

“Green 2.0 is pleased to launch the “Leadership at Work” web page to celebrate the wealth of accomplished leaders of color in the environmental field. Every couple of weeks, we will feature six impressive leaders, spanning  different generations and sectors.  As we seek to address the troubling state of diversity in the mainstream environmental movement, we also celebrate the abundant supply of talented leaders from diverse backgrounds across the broader movement.”

green 2 Environmental_Leaders_of_Color

Learn more about each of these green leaders of color here.

The Green 2.0 Report examines why decades of promises to diversify are falling short in the mainstream environmental movement. The Report Findings are summarized here:

The report, “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies,”  is the most comprehensive report on diversity in the environmental movement. It surveyed 191 environmental non-profits, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 leading environmental grant making foundations to investigate their gender and racial diversity composition, the majority of which state diversification as a “value.” The study included confidential interviews of 21 environmental leaders from diverse backgrounds and experience.

1. The Green Ceiling

No organization with a budget of $1 million or more had a president, vice president, or assistant/associate director who was an ethnic or racial minority. Despite increasing racial diversity in the United States, the racial composition in environmental organizations and agencies has not broken the 12% to 16% “green ceiling” that has been in place for decades.

2. Unconscious Bias, Discrimination, and Insular Recruiting

Confidential interviews with environmental professionals and survey data highlight alienation and “unconscious bias” as factors hampering recruitment and retention of talented people of color.

3. Lackluster Effort and Disinterest in Addressing Diversity

Efforts to attract and retain talented people of color have been lackluster across the environmental movement.

The Result: An overwhelmingly white “Green Insiders’ Club.

Leaders Identify Factors that Make Diversity Initiatives Successful

1. Adequate and stable funding.

2. Adequate and committed leadership.

3. Adequate organizational buy-in.

4. Ability to communicate across race, class, gender, and cultural lines.

5. Institutionalizing diversity, equity, inclusion goals.

6. Translate diversity training into action.

Click here for the complete Green 2.0 Report

Increasing Access to Natural Areas: Physical, Social, and Civil Rights Dimensions Yale-Alliance 2015 Berkley Workshop Maine

July 9th, 2015

Yale Alliance 2015 Berkley Workshop, Increasing Access to Natural Areas: Connecting Physical and Social Dimensions
Increasing Access to Natural Areas: Physical and Social Dimensions
Yale-Alliance 2015 Berkley Workshop, Asticou Inn, New Harbor, Maine

Permanent protection of natural areas requires that people care enough about the land to work to conserve it for generations to come. As many mainstream conservation organizations watch their traditional supporters age, their attention is increasingly focused on how best to attract new, younger, more diverse groups to finding value in natural areas – which requires that those individuals have access and choose to engage with such lands.

The purpose of the 2015 Berkley Workshop is to explore ways to increase access to conserved lands for a broader range of publics – through physical design and facilities, social networks and programming, and the civil rights dimension of equal access to publicly funded resources.

Participants

Jerry Adelmann, President, Openlands, IL
Forrest Berkley, Board Member, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, ME
Marcie Tyre Berkley, Board Member, Maine Huts and Trails, ME
Steve Burrington, Executive Director, Groundwork USA, NY
Gordon Clark, Director, Program Development, Peninsula Open Space Trust, CA
Deborah Cohen, Senior Natural Scientist, Rand Corporation, CA
Jazmine da Costa, Yale Masters Degree Student/Background Paper Co-Author, CT
Kim Elliman, President, Open Space Institute, NY
Jay Espy, President, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, ME
Myron Floyd, Department Head and Professor, NC State University, NC
Cassandra Johnson Gaither, Research Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service, GA
Robert Garcia, Founding Director and Counsel, The City Project, CA
Brad Gentry, Associate Dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, CT
Walker Holmes, Program Manager, Trust for Public Land, CT
Hal Hutchinson, Executive Director, LOR Foundation, WY
Jeannette Ickovics, Professor, Yale School of Public Health
John Judge, President, Appalachian Mountain Club, MA
Rue Mapp, Founder, Outdoor Afro, CA
Xavier Morales, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, CA
Catherine Nagel, Executive Director, City Parks Alliance, DC
Marta de la Garza Newkirk, Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, National Park Service, TX
Mary Scoonover, Executive Vice President, Resources Legacy Fund, CA
Lisa Sockabasin, Director, Minority Health, Maine Health Department, ME
Marc Smiley, Principal, Solid Ground Consulting, OR (facilitator)
Peter Stein, Managing Partner, The Lyme Timber Company, NH
Colby Tucker, Yale Masters Degree Graduate/Background Paper Co-Author, CT
Elizabeth Ward, Communications Director, The Land Trust Alliance, DC
Rand Wentworth, President, The Land Trust Alliance, DC