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Antonio Gonzalez Presente! A New Latino Environmentalism

We mourn Antonio Gonzalez’s passing with his family, and our compañeros y compañeras at the William C. Velazquez Institute and Southwest Voter Education Project.

Antonio is a hero to me, Latinos, and progressives across the nation and across borders.

Antonio worked with Raúl Macías, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, The City Project, and others to make Los Angeles better, greener, and more democratic. We formed Alianza de los Pueblos del Río when we “decided that development of a new L.A. River was a symbolic and literal convergence of a myriad of issues confronting L.A.’s Latino population. To be left out of the discussion, they realized, was to be left high and dry, as the river shifts directions into the future. Instead, the alliance . . . spearheaded river meetings and community outreach that have ballooned into a comprehensive new platform of urban Latino environmentalism. Part legal strategy, part organizing principle, this green movement en español has put people — immigrants and poor people, mostly — at the center of an issue traditionally focused on flora and fauna, and which has pitted some environmentalists against immigrants.” Evan George, Browning the Green Movement, L.A. Alternative 2006. This led to LA State Historic Park, Rio de Los Angelses State Park, revitalizing the LA River, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Baldwin Hills Park, school construction and modernization, and billions of dollars in park and school funds with unprecedented support from people of color and low income people. We changed Los Angeles, and more. The stuggle continues against green displacement for the people who fought to improve the quality of life for their families and friends.

Antonio organized my first trip to Cuba, and our support to restore relations between Cuba and the US, and end the US blockade.

Antonio assembled our U.S. Latino environmental justice delegation to the global Cochabama Conference on Climate and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, organized by President Evo Morales.

We traveled with the Latino and Black Delegation to the Environmental and Climate Justice Earth Day in D.C. in 2007. “The goal was for folks in the Environmental Justice community to articulate and press their concerns about climate on the Hill.” Vivian Shaw Buckingham.

Antonio would run interference for me with east side electeds. He would also laugh when he’d get me into trouble.

Antonio changed my life for the better.

Hasta la victoria siempre, Antonio.

Robert García



Photos The City Project CC BY SA NC | From top:

Antonio Gonzalez at Raul Macias Soccer Field, Grand Opening L.A. River Center 2009

Alianza de los Pueblos del Río Planificacion para la Revitalizacion del Río, Roosevelt High School 2006

Latino and Black Delegation to Environmental Justice Earth Day, at Senator John Kerry’s home with Antonio Gonzalez, Vernice Miller Travis, and Vivian Shaw Buckingham 2007

Cochabamba Global Climate Justice Conference 2010

Native Americans block Keystone XL Pipeline in federal court for impacts on Native American and cultural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change

This administration failed to consider cumulative impacts properly on Native American and cultural resources, and greenhouse gas emissions in approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. This administration disregarded prior factual findings related to climate change by the Obama administration and reversed course without reasoned explanation, according to the Court’s decision, as quoted below. 

The following quotes are from members of the Indigenous Environment Network, which leads the lawsuit against the US State Department:

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network said, “This is a win for Lakota, the Oceti Sakowin and other Tribal Nations, for the water, and for the sacredness of Mother Earth. This decision vindicates what we have been saying all along: Trump’s approval of this pipeline was illegal, violated environmental laws and was based upon fake facts. Our legal fight has been for the benefit of all life along the proposed route of this Canadian tar sands pipeline. This pipeline is the enemy of the people and life as we know it. It must be stopped. We will continue our prayers to take action to fight the Trump administration in defense of the sacred, to protect Indigenous rights, to defend our treaty territories and to advocate for the continuation of the next seven generations of life on Mother Earth free from fossil fuels.”

Joye Braun, IEN Frontline Community Organizer, Cheyenne River Sioux Nation said, “We have fought this pipeline tooth and nail and it’s a great affirmation to hear this judge agree with us. President Trump’s permit was utterly illegal and against the proper procedure. For our people, it has always been a matter of no: No Consent, No Pipeline. We will continue to fight for our sovereignty as nations, our cultural and historic sites, for the safety of our people from man camps and for the sacred medicine that is the water. We will fight and we will win.”

Waniya Locke, People Over Pipelines, Grassroots Of Standing Rock said, “One of Trump’s first presidential acts was to approve the Dakota Access pipeline, subsequently inflicting violence upon our peaceful people. So I am happy to see that Trump is being checked, that his approval of Keystone XL is being reversed and that he will have to reevaluate the effects of this pipeline on the land and culturally significant sites. it’s incredible. From the open prairies to the courtrooms, our ancestors and sacred sites are protecting us.”

Lewis Grassrope, Wiconi un Tipi Camp in Lower Brule, South Dakota said, “Through our prayers, we stood for the greater good of our people. Today one of those prayers has been answered with this decision on Keystone XL, but we must still stay the course to keep our people safe from any atrocious acts that affect our lives and livelihoods.”

Manape LaMere, Government Rep of the Sioux Nation of Indians and Bdewakantowan Isanti Headsmen said, “Supporting one another post-Standing Rock and bringing awareness throughout our territory, we’ve dealt a big blow to the Trump administration. We continue to pray and set those prayers in motion thru action, that this KXL project remains in its death throes, until we can truly claim final victory.”

Judge Brian M. Morris of the US District Court for Montana ruled as follows.

NEPA requires agencies to analyze impacts to cultural resources. . . . Plaintiffs contend that the social, cultural, and health impacts run the length of Keystone, and that over 1,000 acres remain unsurveyed for potential cultural resources. . . .

The Department . . . consulted with Indian tribes, federal agencies, and local governments regarding cultural resources. . . .

“Neither party has provided information regarding whether the Department, any other federal agency, state historic officer, or local government surveyed the remaining 1,038 acres between 2014 and 2017. The 2014 SEIS fails to provide a “full and fair discussion of the potential effects of the project to cultural resources” in the absence of further information on the 1,038 unsurveyed acres. . . .

Claim 1: The Department’s analysis of the following issues fell short of a “hard look” and requires a supplement to the 2014 SEIS in order to comply with its obligations under NEPA:

*The effects of current oil prices on the viability of Keystone . . .;

The cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the Alberta Clipper expansion and Keystone . . .;

A survey of potential cultural resources contained in the 1,038 acres not addressed in the 2014 SEIS . . .; and

*An updated modeling of potential oil spills and recommended

mitigation measures . . . .

These omissions require a remand with instructions to the Department to satisfy its obligations under NEPA to take a “hard look” at the issues through a supplement to the 2014 SEIS.

Claim 3: NEPA and the APA require a detailed justification for reversing course and adopting a policy that “rests upon factual findings that contradict those which underlay its prior policy.” . . . . The Department must give “a reasoned explanation for disregarding facts and circumstances that underlay or were engendered by the prior policy.” . . . The Department failed to comply with NEPA and the APA when it disregarded prior factual findings related to climate change and reversed course. The Court vacates the 2017 ROD and remands with instructions to provide a reasoned explanation for the 2017 ROD’s change in course.

Read the Court’s decision. The SEIS is the supplemental environmental impact statement and the ROD is the record of decision.

Stand with Standing Rock.

Vote! English / Español

Raul Macias, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, City Project hero and ally

From the New York Times  / Leer este artículo en español.

On Tuesday, tens of millions of Americans are expected to head to the polls. For most, the process will be relatively painless, but some may face delays and other frustrations.

“Election Day tends to lay bare all of the little and big errors in our voter registration system,” said Myrna Pérez, the deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. “It reveals that our election systems are often not resourced properly, that our election administrators have an incredibly big job to do.”

A national patchwork of laws, rules and practices can make the voting process feel complicated at times. But those who run into issues shouldn’t give up.

“Don’t despair, just persist,” Ms. Pérez said. “People wait in line for iPhones and amusement park rides and things like that. This is a lot more important.”

Here’s a brief guide to help you prepare to cast your ballot.

Find out when and where to vote. In most states, polling places open at 6 or 7 a.m. and close at 7 or 8 p.m., but it’s important to check, as times can vary by location.

Most state election offices make it easy for voters to find their polling place online and learn when it opens and closes. Several nonprofits have tools that do the same, such as, a joint effort from state and local officials, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Google; and, a project of the League of Women Voters Education Fund.

If you can’t make it to your assigned location, you might be allowed to vote elsewhere, generally with a provisional ballot, depending on the state.

[Some workers get time off to vote, and some don’t. Here’s why.]

Don’t assume you can’t vote. Even if you haven’t registered or you think that you’re ineligible, research your options: you may still be able to vote.

For example, it’s true that the registration closed weeks ago in much of the country, but residents of 17 states and Washington, D.C., may register on Election Day, according to a March review by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

And while at least three states permanently ban people with felony convictions from voting, others restore the right over time.

Avoid the lines. Because polling locations are generally busiest during the morning rush hour, at lunchtime and in the evening, those with flexible schedules might have better luck by voting very early, at midmorning or at midafternoon.

Research what to bring. About two-thirds of states expect residents to provide identification to vote, but requirements vary, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some states accept only photo IDs, while others accept alternatives. Some are strict, others more lenient. Voters who forget their IDs may still be allowed to vote using a provisional ballot.

Check with your state or local election office to figure out if you need identification and, if so, what kind.

Read up on the ballot. It can be overwhelming to sift through all of the information and misinformation out there, but there are resources to help.

A good place to start is with state and local election offices, which often provide voter guides — with varying degrees of detail — online or by mail. Election officials often also publish sample ballots so voters know what to expect and can avoid confusion in the booth.

Several nonpartisan groups provide unvarnished voter information, too. Ballotpedia, a nonprofit encyclopedia written by a staff of researchers and writers, contains a wealth of information and maintains a sample ballot lookup. Similar tools are available through other organizations, including, Vote USA and BallotReady, to name a few. ProPublica, the nonprofit newsroom, maintains tools such as ElectionBot and Represent to help readers find information and articles on local issues and candidates.

Voters can also seek out endorsements from sources they trust, such as local newspapers, special interest groups and professional organizations.

Don’t be intimidated. The federal government and many states ban voter intimidation, which can take many forms. Examples include aggressively questioning an individual’s citizenship or qualifications to vote, falsely claiming to be an election official and spreading false information about voting requirements, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

To report intimidation, voters can notify local and state officials and call or text the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE or 888-VE-Y-VOTA in Spanish, or the Justice Department at 800-253-3931 and TTY line 877-267-8971.

[Read more about voter intimidation and what you can do about it.]

Many states do allow certified poll monitors to observe the voting process, though. The monitors, who are trained, may have the authority to challenge a person’s voting qualifications, though they are not typically allowed to interact with individuals directly. A voter whose qualifications are challenged may still be allowed to vote after giving a sworn affidavit that they satisfy said qualifications.

Ask for help. Generally, election officials are prepared to accommodate the needs of all voters, including those with disabilities and those who need language assistance.

Voters with disabilities, for example, have the right to accessible polling places and voting booths; to bring a service animal into the polling place; to seek assistance from polling place workers; and to bring someone with them to vote, as long as that person is not an employer or union representative.

Under federal law, more than 260 jurisdictions are required to provide some form of language assistance, according to the federal Election Assistance Commission. And many state and local jurisdictions do so on their own.

Stay in line. Advocates say that anyone in line to vote by the time the polls close should stick around. “As long as you are in line, you need to make sure that you stay and cast your ballot,” said Virginia Kase, the chief executive of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters.

[Here’s what to do if you are turned away from the polls.]

Be thorough. Ballots can be confusing, so it’s important to read the directions, review the ballot and take your time. State and local election officials may provide sample ballots ahead of time so voters know what to expect and poll workers may be able to help, too.

Get a provisional ballot if necessary. Under federal law, nearly every state must provide provisional ballots to eligible voters denied access to the booth. While a handful of states are exempted, several offer the ballots anyway. And only three, Idaho, Minnesota and New Hampshire, offer none at all, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

If a voter fills out a provisional ballot, federal law also mandates that poll workers provide them with a piece of paper explaining what they need to do to have their ballot counted and how they can check if it has been counted.

“They need to demand that piece of paper and they need to check,” Ms. Pérez said.

‘Environmentalist’ Doesn’t Just Mean White and Wealthy: National Academies Study Refutes Stereotypes

“[P]art of the conversation has led to the environmental justice movement, which is often led by people of color and by women—but still, that’s remained separate from the mainstream movement.”
Diversifying white mainstream enviros is not enough. The most important thing grant makers can do is to provide unrestricted, long-term support to grassroots organizing groups that are pushing for racial, ethnic, and economic justiceThe most important thing mainstream agencies and  nonprofits can do is to comply with civil rights and environmental justice laws. “Stereotypes about others’ environmental attitudes may pose a barrier to broadening public engagement with environmental initiatives, particularly among populations most vulnerable to negative environmental impacts.”– National Academies study.

Picture an environmentalist.

For many Americans, that prompts an image of someone who’s white, well-educated, and in the middle class. That’s what researchers found when they surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. adults of different ethnic, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Yet in that same survey, nonwhite participants on average reported higher levels of concern for the environment than whites.The survey is part of a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlighting the tendency among all Americans to underestimate how much minority groups (Blacks, Latinos, and Asians, in particular) and low-income groups care about the environment and the more politically charged issue of climate change. This is despite the fact that these issues disproportionally affect communities of color and the poor. As CityLab has reported, they are more vulnerable to flooding when hurricanes strike, and more likely to live in areas with dangerous air pollution or with little relief from the effects of global warming. The public misperception about who cares and who doesn’t partly explains why policies and nonprofit efforts often stop short of reaching the most vulnerable communities.
When researchers asked participants in the study to rate their own environmental concern on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “extremely concerned,” minority and poorer groups rated themselves on average above a 3 (moderately concerned). Latinos reported the highest level of concern, about 3.5. The averages for white and wealthy groups, meanwhile, hovered just around 3. And when researchers asked whether they considered themselves environmentalists, roughly two-thirds of Latino and Asian respondents responded positively, compared to only half of white respondents. (Only a third of black respondents associated themselves with that term.) Yet when asked to rate other groups, participants strongly underestimated the level of concern of all demographics except whites, women, and young Americans. The publicly perceived rate for Latinos, for example, fell around 2.5, while respondents rated whites’ concern above 3.

The level of concern reported by minority and poor groups are generally much higher than the public perception. Pearson et al., “Diverse segments of the US public underestimate the environmental concerns of minority and low-income Americans.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018.
Read the complete CityLab article ‘Environmentalist’ Doesn’t Just Mean White and Wealthy. A new study refutes some common stereotypes of who cares most about the environment.


UCLA Prof Leo Estrada Civil Rights Hero, Demographer, Urban Planner, City Project Mentor Presente!

UCLA Prof. Leo Estrada has influenced everything The City Project has done for 20 years by teaching us the importance of mapping and analyzing access to public an other resources including parks, schools, health, jobs, housing, and transportation using GIS mapping and census data. He created for us the most comprehensive and complete electronic database of parks, beaches, and green space in LA County ever, working with his grad student Eric Lomelli. He mapped and analyzed the parks, beaches, and green space  against race, ethnicity, and income. He donated the data files for us to use in our equal access advocacy and make publicly available. He sat down with our GIS expert Amanda Recinos from GreenInfo Network and me to take the mapping and analyses to whole new levels of sophistication and cartographic quality. It worked. No data, no justice. No one has ever challenged our demographic analyses based on lessons Leo taught us.

Courtesy UCLA

The analyses supported our work to create or protect great new urban parks and diversify support for and access to billions of dollars in local, state, and federal park, water, resource, and school funds. The analyses backed President Barack Obama in creating San Gabriel Mountains National Monument because there are not enough places to play, especially for children of color and low income children. US EPA added parks and greenspace to EJSCREEN, the national online mapping tool, along with toxics and health in 2016. The analyses fueled community victories at LA State Historic Park; Rio de Los Angeles State Park; LA River greening; Baldwin Hills Park, the largest urban park designed in the US in over a century, in historic African American LA; coastal justice to free the beach from San Diego Humboldt County; saving Panhe and San Onofre State Beach; keeping state parks open statewide; Transit to Trails; and more. The analyses supported our work on the LAUSD School Bond Oversight Committee, helping to raise $27 billion to build 130 new schools, modernize hundreds more, and make the future brighter for generations of public school children in Los Angeles. With Leo we updated the vision of the classic 1932 Olmsed report Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region.

Thank you Leo, for helping bring the simple joys of playing in the parks, schools, pools, and beaches to the children and people of California and beyond. Thank you from your compañeros y compañeras at The City Project / Proyecto del Pueblo. La lucha continua.

CA SP-2010(2) ParkIncomePoorOfColorSPlogo

Leo has influenced everything The City Project does.

Leo Estrada A Giant on Many Fronts UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “As a brilliant demographer, he was also instrumental in confronting gerrymandering and giving ethnic communities equal representation in California and other states around the country,” according to Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, UCLA Prof. of Urban Planning, Associate Provost, and long time City Project hero.

Early work by Leo and The City Project creating the most comprehensive electronic database ever of parks and green space in LA County.

The Long Battle over Coastal Justice at Hollister Ranch Spencer Robins KCETLink

Spencer Robins writes:

A developing body of research shows that access to open space is a vital part of human health and wellbeing. And it’s not evenly distributed; the people most often denied the benefits of forests and mountains and beaches are, of course, those who are already marginalized and oppressed. Increasingly, coastal experts and advocates are arguing that planning in cases like Hollister needs to account for the economic, social, and practical barriers that prevent so many people from being able to enjoy their right to the beach. . . .

Robert García is an environmental and civil rights lawyer, director of The City Project, and advocate for what he calls “coastal justice”: a coastal movement recognizing “access to the coastal zone is about equal justice and human dignity and freedom,” in García’s words. Coastal justice addresses the history of racial and economic oppression behind the unequal coastal access we see today. When the Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance announced that it would oppose the settlement agreement, The City Project, along with two other environmental justice groups, GreenLatinos and the California League of United Latin American Citizens, supported the Alliance in opposition.

The Alliance includes in its legal briefs arguments based on environmental justice principles — arguments that coastal advocates have not typically used, despite a 2016 requirement for the Coastal Commission to consider environmental justice in its decisions. In García’s view, the Alliance’s initial arguments missed an opportunity to show how expanding public access to the coast can be a part of creating a state with a more equitable — a more just — relation with the natural world. The Alliance’s most recent brief in the case describes the “legacy and pattern of discriminatory public and private beach, land use, and housing policies” that have prevented low-income people and people of color from sharing in the benefits of a public coast.

Racial and economic exclusion are evident in seemingly mundane restrictions. A report co-written by Garcia describes, for example, how affluent white communities in Manhattan Beach lobbied to end a bus line that connected South Central L.A. to the beach. . . .

García points to a National Park Service study of the Gaviota Coast as a model for better planning. (The Park Service wrote this study to determine whether the area could be made a National Seashore, but concluded the idea was not “feasible” after intense opposition from local owners, including the HROA.) The study describes not just the environmental but the human history of Gaviota Coast, including Hollister Ranch. This wider area is home to Cold War military sites, to remains of California’s rancho period, to a portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Maybe most importantly, Hollister Ranch is historical Chumash land, inhabited and shaped by Chumash people for thousands of years before European settlers took it by force. (Given that the Commission is currently drafting policy to consult native California tribes on decisions that impact them, the fact that Hollister Ranch is historical Chumash land — and that it contains at least two Chumash archaeological sites — is particularly significant.) The study recognizes, in other words, that this area has a deep human history, and that there are other kinds of claims than property claims that should inform how the state plans for it.

Read the thorough coverage by Spencer Robins, Hollister Ranch: The Last Beach in Southern California (KCETLink 2018).

Read Free the Beach! Coastal Acess, Equal Justice, and Hollister Ranch (The City Project Policy Report 2018) by
GreenLatinos, California LULAC, Robert Bracamontes & The City Project

Hollister Ranch photo CC BY SA NC TCP

Support the City Project with your next Amazon Purchase!

From October 29 to November 2, 5% of your Amazon purchase will be donated to The City Project when you shop eligible products at Eligible products will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation.”

To learn more about the City Project and our work around civil rights, environmental justice, health equity, and park access, visit our website at

Los Angeles State Historic Park Groundbreaking March 15, 2014

Dolores Huerta, Center for Biological Diversity, Wishtoyo Foundation & The City Project, Oracle AZ

Thai Human Rights Leaders Meet with The City Project on Climate Justice and Pollution

Human rights leaders from Thailand met with The City Project’s Elizabeth Chi and Alex Ruppert to discuss climate justice and pollution impacts on people of color and low income people in Los Angeles. In this moving cultural interchange, we all emphasized the values at stake to save the earth and her people.

The City Project is inspired by the stories and unique insights these colleagues offered, and honored by the opportunity to meet together.

From left to right: Nurhayatee Yusoh, Project Coordinator for Buku’s Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights Classroom; Arnon Nampa, Lawyer for the Human Rights Lawyers’ Association; Dararai Ruksasiripong, Project Coordinator with the Foundation for Women; Alex Ruppert of the City Project; Elizabeth Chi of the City Project; Nattaporn Artharn, Coordinator for the Villagers’ Environmental Group Namoon-Doonsard; and Luenhorm Saifah, Assistant Coordinator for the Shan State Refugee Committee; at the office of the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles.

Remembering Tom Hayden Vietnam, Cuba, Ireland, The City Project


I met Tom Hayden when he was running for US Senate in 1976. We have worked arm in arm – on police reform, environmental justice, education, income inequality, and civil and human rights in Guatemala, Cuba, Ireland and the U.S. . . . Tom is a national and international hero. Tom is one of my heroes. Robert García

Tom Hayden on Climate, Environmental Justice, and Health 2015CC BY NC SA The City Project