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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.