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Let justice roll from the curvaceous slopes of California! Gov. Brown Signs Equal Justice Law

Governor Jerry Brown has signed an equal justice law, Senate Bill 1442 “by Senator Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge) – Discrimination: regulations and enforcement.”

The law directs the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to enforce equal justice and antidiscrimination provisions under existing law. The law prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation. The prohibition applies to any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.

Existing laws, including Government Code 11135, prohibit such discrimination, but state agencies and recipients of state financial assistance routinely do not comply with or enforce 11135 and its regulations. SB 1442 in part requires DFEH to enact regulations, ensure compliance and enforcement, and investigate violations under 11135.

The City Project looks forward to working with DFEH to implement SB 1442, and recommends the following concrete steps to support effective implementation:

  1. DFEH should prepare guidance documents on 11135 and its regulations to inform state agencies, recipients of state financial assistance, and the public about their obligations and rights, respectively. These documents can be patterned on the guidance that federal authorities provide to ensure compliance with and enforcement of parallel federal equal protection laws. The US Department of Justice, for example, publishes the Civil Rights Title VI Manual under parallel federal laws including Title VI and its regulations, and the President’s Order 12898 on environmental justice and health. The Federal Transit Administration provides best practice examples too.
  2. Each state agency should ensure compliance and enforcement through the many avenues they have available. This includes strategic planning, data collection, analyses, and publication, regulations and guidance documents, review of funding applications, contractual assurances of compliance, compulsory self-evaluations, compliance reviews, investigation of administrative complaints, full and fair public participation in the compliance and enforcement process, denial or termination of funding, and ultimately access to justice through the courts.
  3. DFEH should perform an audit to determine which agencies (1) have regulations against discrimination under existing law, and (2) have no regulations or the regulations are not current. (Cf. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, §§ 98304, 98305 (state agencies to submit regulations for review).)
  4. DFEH should perform an audit of which agencies have provided training to their employees and otherwise ensure that they know equal justice requirements. (Cf. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, §§ 98321 (each state agency to familiarize employees with the law).)
  5. DFEH should conduct audits to ensure each agency has procedures in place to inform the public of their equal justice rights, including a complaint process and other procedures to ensure compliance, enforcement, and public participation. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, § 98326.)
  6. DFEH should audit which agencies and recipients have submitted compliance reports. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, § 98310.)
  7. Each agency and recipient should post information on how to file a discrimination complaint, designate an employee to handle complaints, and do a compliance review, and require recipients to do the same.
  8. Each agency should gather and release data and information to analyze any funding disparities, as required under 98340: (1) the percentage of persons of a particular ethnic group identification, race, color, or national origin that receives benefits, services or financial assistance from a state administered or state supported program or activity, and (2) the amount of state support provided to each recipient. (Cal. Code Regs. 22, § 98340.)
  9. Each state agency should ensure compliance, enforcement, and equal protection under existing law.
  10. If necessary, DFEH, the attorney general, and advocates should persuade an agency to ensure compliance and enforcement through the courts.

We look forward to working with DFEH on civil rights and environmental justice priorities, including the following:

  1. Implementing a rights based framework that includes the following elements: Describe what you plan to do. Analyze benefits and burdens on all people. Include people of color and low income people in making decisions. Consider alternatives. Adopt an implementation plan to distribute benefits and burdens fairly, and avoid unjustified discriminatory impacts and intentional discrimination. The US Commission on Civil Rights provides parallel recommendations.
  2. Defining standards to measure progress and accountability by state agencies and recipients.
  3. Revising the CalEnviroScreen online mapping and analysis tool to include data on race, color, national origin, park and green space,and other salient factors in addition to health vulnerabilities and exposure to toxics and pollution. US EPA EJSCREEN‘s tool is a best practice to do this.
  4. Implementing coastal justice with the California Coastal Commission.
  5. Working with state, regional, county, and local park and recreation agencies on equal access to parks, recreation areas, beaches, rivers, trails, monuments, and deserts. The National Park Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Department of Housing and Urban Development provide best practice examples.
  6. Working with the California Department of Education to ensure quality physical education and physical fitness for all public school students.
  7. Climate justice and the fair distribution of carbon pricing and cap and trade benefits.
  8. Economic vitality, including local green jobs, diverse business enterprises, and housing affordable for all to avoid green displacement and gentrification.
  9. Working with the California Department of Health & Human Services to implement Health Equity in All Policies.

The law reorganizes various statutes regarding discrimination, removes the requirement that other agencies promulgate regulations, and requires regulations, investigation, compliance, and enforcement by DFEH. These prohibitions and sanctions are in addition to any others imposed by law.

African American Museum 2016

African American Museum Sept. 30, 2016.

Thank you to our colleagues at ACLU of Northern California, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Equal Justice Society, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Public Advocates, Disability Rights CA, California Coastal Protection Network, Azul, and Marianne Engelman Lado, Marc Brenman, and Dr. Michael Rodriguez.


Equal Justice Across the US Civil Rights Manual Department of Justice @CivilRights

The US Department of Justice reports:


Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Ensuring consistent and effective enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 across the federal government

I write to share the publication today of the first portion of our updated and expanded Title VI Legal Manual. Updated sections cover key Title VI concepts, including legislative history, the Department of Justice role, and scope of coverage. The Manual is designed to assist federal funding agencies in meeting their critical obligation to remedy discrimination in federally funded programs through strong administrative enforcement. It also serves as a resource for Title VI practitioners and others interested in learning more about how the law protects against race, color, and national origin discrimination.

We will release additional portions of the Manual as they become available.  Upcoming updates will address conduct prohibited by Title VI, including intentional discrimination, disparate impact, and retaliation.

Executive Order 12250 charges DOJ with ensuring the consistent and effective enforcement of Title VI and related statutes. In order to fulfill this mandate, DOJ, through the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS), provides assistance, training, and guidance to agency civil rights offices.  The Legal Manual is a critical component of the Civil Rights Division’s initiative to restructure, reevaluate, and strengthen our Title VI coordination program.

In addition to the Legal Manual, Title VI News @FCS provides information on current implementation and enforcement efforts across the federal agencies; FCS issues Title VI guidance, including the recent joint guidance on emergencies; and files briefs to facilitate accurate and effective application of Title VI standards.  Visit FCS’s website for more information about these efforts.

Please direct any comments about the Manual to FCS (use this email address: It is our intention to revise the document periodically to both update evolving legal principles and respond to agency needs for guidance in new areas. As such, we welcome any feedback you may have.

Finally, a huge thank you to FCS Deputy Chief Peter Gray and Staff Attorney Laurie Gelman, editors of the Title VI Legal Manual, and to so many others in FCS and other offices who are contributing to the development of this important resource.

And thank you for your continued interest in and pursuit of Title VI enforcement.

Christine Stoneman
Acting Chief
Federal Coordination and Compliance Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice and

Follow the Civil Rights Division on Twitter: @CivilRights
Sign up for our Title VI Newsletter

Joint Use Schools, Pools and Parks JUMPP #JUMPPingIntoAction #JUMPP_LA

The Joint/Shared Use Moving People to Play (JUMPP) Task Force brings together leaders to increase access to safe places for recreation and health. Together, we are creating more places for everyone to move and play!

Support quality education, physical education and joint use!

Visit the JUMPP webpage.

Coastal justice law amends CA Coastal Act, requires environmental justice commissioner

The L.A. Times reports:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation aimed at providing a greater voice on the California Coastal Commission to racially diverse, low-income communities.

Brown signed a bill by Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood) that requires one of the members appointed to the Coastal Commission by the governor to work directly with low-income communities in the state that are most burdened by high levels of pollution and other concerns. . . .

 “Every Californian deserves access to our coast,” Burke said recently, adding her bill [AB 2616] can “truly make a difference in communities that have been heavily polluted and repeatedly marginalized.”

The City Project worked with Azul, the California Coastal Protection Network, staff for Governor Brown, President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Assemblymember Burke and Senator Fran Pavley, and diverse allies to amend the Coastal Act. The law amends the Act in three major ways to promote coastal access and justice for all.

  1. The Act explicitly refers to state civil rights law that guarantees equal access to publicly funded resources and prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and other factors, Government Code 11135. Section 11135 applies to all state agencies and recipients of state funding.
  2. The Act explicitly refers to the statutory definition of environmental justice. “Environmental justice” means the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to environmental laws, regulations, and policies under Government Code Section 65040.12.
  3. The governor is required to appoint a Commissioner experienced in and dedicated to environmental justice. And every Commissioner is required to comply with and enforce the cross-cutting equal justice laws.

The coastal justice law is a resounding endorsement of coastal justice by the legislature and governor. The law solidly refutes the unfounded and pernicious position that the Commission cannot consider environmental justice, as claimed by the late director Peter Douglas and others. (The hearing transcript is on file with The City Project.)

Coastal justice is never saved. Coastal justice is always being saved. Watch the short stop action video Free the Beach! by Sam García, Stanford ’18.

NEEF National Public Lands Day Anahuak, The City Project, NPCA Rio de Los Angeles State Park

NEEF, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, The City Project and NPCA celebrate National Public Lands Day at Río de Los Angeles State Park Sept. 24, 2016! The day will be filled with workshops around climate, parks, nature and art for the whole family. There will also be a park clean up. Activities will be conducted in Spanish.

Únete a más de 200,000 voluntarios a nivel nacional para ayudar a celebrar el paisaje público que tanto amas.

Información de evento local:

Anahuak Youth Sports Assocation celebra
Día Nacional de Tierras Publicas
24 de Septiembre, 9AM – 2PM
Río de Los Angeles State Park
1900 N. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, CA 90065

The City Project’s Robert García serves on the NEEF Board of Directors. 


US Civil Rights Commission Civil Rights and Environmental Justice and Enforcement by EPA @usccrgov


The US Civil Rights Commission reports on civil rights and environmental justice compliance and enforcement by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The report covers Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the President’s Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health. The Commission’s findings and recommendations are relevant to other federal agencies, state and local agencies, mainstream environmental organizations, and other recipients of federal funding. The City Project also celebrates best practices at EPA to create a culture of compliance, enforcement, and justice, as discussed below.


Environmental Justice

1. EPA’s definition of environmental justice recognizes environmental justice as a civil right.

2. EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA defines fair treatment to mean no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

3. Racial minorities and low income communities are disproportionately affected by the siting of waste disposal facilities.

4. The intersection between race and poverty compounds the health impact of environmental pollution in communities of color. When chronic disease does occur, low- income communities demonstrate worse health outcomes than affluent communities.

5. Both historical and current housing segregation amplifies the burden of toxic industrial waste on communities of color. Insufficient public education often leaves residents unaware of the presence of dangerous toxins that are not immediately observable, while cultural, familial, and economic ties keep residents in the community despite these hazards.

6. Declining home values due to environmental contamination disproportionately impacts communities of color.

7. Minority and low-income communities often lack the political and financial clout to properly bargain with polluters when fighting a siting decision or seeking redress from pollution already in their community.

8. Civil rights enforcement is necessary because despite existing laws, environmental standards are not being upheld for everyone. Cooperation between federal, state, city, and local officials is necessary to address current environmental justice challenges.

9. If enforced vigorously, Title VI can be a powerful tool for EPA to address environmental justice and remediate discrimination. 

Environmental Protection Agency

10. EPA has a history of being unable to meet its regulatory deadlines and extreme delays in responding to Title VI complaints in the area of environmental justice.

11. EPA’s terminology in how it characterizes the subject-matter of its Title VI complaints negatively impacts its ability to address questions regarding its Title VI complaints or resolve Title VI complaints.

12. EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has never made a formal finding of discrimination.

13. Despite its regulatory authority, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has never denied or withdrawn financial assistance from a recipient in its entire history.

14. EPA’s Office of Civil Rights lacks clarity in its mission and has no mandate to demand accountability from other entities within EPA.

15. Pursuant to Executive Order 12,898, EPA has recently taken steps to incorporate procedural environmental justice obligations into its core missions.

16. At the same time, EPA has not incorporated environmental justice as a substantive right into its decision-making.

17. EPA’s inability to proactively ensure that recipients of financial assistance comply with Title VI is exacerbated by its lack of resources and small staff levels.

* * *


Environmental Protection Agency Staffing, Resources, and Leadership

1. Congress should increase EPA’s Office of Civil Rights budget specifically to increase staffing to meet current and future needs.

2. EPA should bring on additional staff temporarily to clean up the significant backlog – in some cases decades old.

3. EPA should continue to build up its recent efforts to share expertise among the regions and headquarters, and support the Deputy Civil Rights Officers.

4. EPA leadership must empower and support the efforts of the Office of Civil Rights and provide it with the necessary tools and administrative responsibilities to support and hold accountable other EPA entities whose jurisdiction intersects communities of color.

Processing Title VI Complaints

* * *

5. EPA should include affected communities in the settlement process.

* * *

(Emphasis added.) See generally USCCR Report at pages 1-15, 22-26, 29, 50, 89-90, 92.

The City Project applauds the US Civil Rights Commission for this important work. The Commission’s findings and recommendations apply to other federal agencies. This include the National Park Service, and the US Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Education. Federal agencies must comply with equal justice requirements, and ensure compliance by recipients of federal financial assistance, including state and local agencies, mainstream environmental organizations, and private recipients.

The equal justice compliance and enforcement plan includes five elements.

  1. Describe what is planned, in terms that the public understands.
  2. Analyze the benefits and burdens on all people.

The analysis includes numerical disparities based on statistical studies and anecdotal evidence. This includes demographic data, GIS mapping, and empirical studies. Agencies must collect and make data publicly available for independent analysis. Standards must be defined to measure progress, allow for midcourse corrections, and hold officials accountable.

  1. Analyze alternatives.
  2. Include people of color and low income people in the decision making process.
  3. Develop an implementation plan to distribute benefits and burdens fairly, and avoid discrimination. This includes unjustified discriminatory impacts regardless of intent, as well as intentional discrimination.

See Park Funding for All! Park, environmental, and other public funds should benefit all people equitably and without discrimination (The City Project Policy Brief 2016).

The City Project celebrates best practices by EPA. EJSCREEN for example provides an online tool for mapping and analyzing park access, demographics including race, color, national origin, exposure to toxics and pollution, and health vulnerabilities. EPA led the community struggle for clean water justice working with Concerned Citizens of Southcentral Los Angleles, Baldwin Hills Homeowners Association, civil rights attorneys, and others. EPA officials are working with community allies to ensure compliance and enforcement in greening the L.A. River. EPA is lifting up these concerns with the federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice and Health. The struggle continues . . .

RG at EJ IWG Community Spotlight Series

EPA organized the 17 agency federal Interagency Working Group to address the five point planning planning process for equal justice compliance and enforcement in July 2016.

Coastal Justice CA Coastal Act Conference CLE



Civil Rights and Environmental Justice in the Coastal Zone sessions include:

Robert García, Founding Director and Counsel, The City Project
Marce Gutiérrez-Graudinš, Director, Azul

Coastal Commissioners Roberto Uranga and Effie Turnbull Sanders

Related sessions include sea level rise and climate justice by Coastal Commission staff, and low cost lodging with Susan Jordan, CCPN.

Click here for more on The City Project’s efforts to “Free the Beach!” and “Save Our Coast and Climate for All.”

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),

Robert García, Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš and Amy Trainer, California Coastal Access and Climate Justice for All, National Recreation and Park Association Parks & Recreation Magazine (2016)

Robert García and Amy Trainer, State has less publicized coastal access problems, Monterey Herald (2016)

Robert García, Don’t defang coastal panel, Sacramento Bee (2016),

Robert García, Keeping California’s Beaches Open for All, National Recreation and Park Association, Parks & Recreation Magazine (2016)

Patrick Healy, Coastal Commission to Meet on Director, NBC 4 News (2016)

Hispanic Heritage Month Guatemala Charles Drew University


Robert García is an Assistant Professor on the Community Faculty at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science. CDU is the only historically Black serving college west of the Mississippi and the the only institution that is historically Black and Latino serving.

Support restorative justice for Guatemala. / En Español.


2016 Public Health Law Conference, September 16, The City Project

The City Project’s Cesar De La Vega is a featured speaker at the 2016 Public Health Law Conference, organized by The Network for Public Health Law and American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. The conference takes place in Washington, D.C., from September 15 – 17, 2016.

Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health Track

“Confronting Health Challenges in Disadvantaged Communities” – Friday, September 16

Underserved communities face unique challenges in improving population health. Disparities exist in preparedness policies and non-inclusive recreational programs; in unequal funding practices and outdated built environments. Learn how underserved communities have mobilized public health research, policy and law to confront these long-standing challenges. Session presenters will discuss how different public health law interventions can be effectively identified, refined and utilized to improve population health outcomes.

Daniel J. O’Brien
Network for Public Health Law

Michael Greenberger
University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security

Cesar De La Vega, JD
Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow
The City Project, Los Angeles

Kathleen Wolfe
Special Litigation Counsel
Justice Department

Photo taken by Ann Phi-Wendt, Managing Director at Network for Public Health Law. “Panelists are getting ready for the Confronting Health Challenges in Disadvantaged Communities session! #phlc16”

Cesar De La Vega is the Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow at The City Project. As a native of Los Angeles’s Eastside and former intern, Cesar is excited to return to The City Project after completing a post-graduate fellowship in the Office of the General Counsel at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. Cesar received his JD from Stanford Law School in 2014 and his BA in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010.

While in law school, Cesar participated in the school’s Organizations and Transactions Clinic—providing free corporate legal services to Bay Area nonprofit organizations—and the Obesity in Santa Clara County Policy Practicum, a collaborative effort between the Law School, the County Counsel’s Office, and Stanford University School of Medicine faculty to reduce obesity rates in the county through the identification, development, evaluation, and presentation of strategies and initiatives for the County Board of Supervisors. Cesar is a recipient of the Ford Foundation Post-Graduate Fellowship in Public Interest Law, and La Raza Lawyers of Santa Clara County Charitable Foundation Merit Award.

The City Project Celebrates 17 Years of Community Victories Speaking Truth to Power

The City Project Celebrates 17 Years of Community Victories Speaking Truth to Power

2000 Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield

2001 Baldwin Hills Park Stopped Power Plant

2002 Rio de Los Angeles State Park

2003 School Bond Oversight Committee Chair 2000-05 LAUSD $27 Billion to Build Schools of Hope

2004 Clean Water Justice $2 Billion Order & Agreement US EPA, Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, Baldwin Hills Estates Homeowners’ Association

2005 Free the Beach! Public Access, Equal Justice, and the California Coast, 2 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 143

2006 Policy Report Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Mapping Green Access and Equity for the Los Angeles Region

2007 Truth and Reconciliation at Bruce’s Beach

2008 Saved Sacred Site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach, Stopped Toll Road

2009 Physical Education Compliance Public Schools

2010 American Public Health Association President’s Citation – Past Recipients include Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Ralph Nader, Hillary Rodham Clinton

2011 Policy Report Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for Southern California

2012 Baldwin Hills Park and Community Settlement Agreement Most Heavily Regulated Oil Field in US

2013 Smithsonian Anacostia Community “Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways & Civic Engagement” L.A. River

2014 President Barack Obama Park Access & Social Justice San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

2015 Transit to Trails and Every Kid in a Park!

2016 Archdiocese of Guatemala Petitions Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Behalf of Innocent Victims of US Sexually Transmitted Disease Experiments

The Struggle Continues for Equal Justice, Democracy, and Livability for All

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.40.35 PM

Take Action Comics: The City Project by Sam García, Stanford ’18

“Check out the great public health advocacy comic book from The City Project. Zounds! Coool stuff.” UCLA Center for Health Advancement blog.

“Holy Prevalence, Batman! The City Project has released a public health advocacy comic book!” Tulane Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health tweet.

To view the full comic, please click here.

Click here for the two page summary: the front and back cover.

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