Senator Leyva Introduces "Planning for Healthy Communities Act"

SB 1000 Helps Improve Health & Safety of Residents in Disadvantaged Communities

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to lessen the impact of pollution and other environmental contaminants on communities in California and the Inland Empire, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) has authored legislation requiring the development of an Environmental Justice (EJ) element for future General Plans.  State law already requires cities and counties in California to develop individual comprehensive General Plans to address seven mandated elements—land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, and safety—to the extent that the provisions are locally relevant. 

SB 1000 will improve local planning efforts to reduce environmental and health impacts on California’s most vulnerable residents—including many in the 20th State Senate District—by certifying that local governments include an EJ element when they update their General Plans.  Recently, the cities of Jurupa Valley and National City voluntarily incorporated  EJ elements into their General Plans to ensure that local land use decisions do not pose environmental and safety risks to disadvantaged populations and to promote policies that improve the health and well-being of our most vulnerable and at-risk populations. 

“SB 1000 would ensure that communities in California take into account the environmental and pollution impacts on local residents living in areas that may be disproportionately exposed to toxins or other contaminants that can hurt them or their families.  Residents in poorer communities oftentimes suffer from higher rates of asthma, cancer, and birth defects, so we must do all we can to eliminate environmental factors that may be contributing to those serious health problems,” Senator Leyva said. “Open space, noise, and safety planning elements are already integral pieces of local General Plans.  I firmly believe that local authorities must also do their due diligence to protect vulnerable residents from potentially dangerous environmental hazards.  Environmental justice is not just a catch phrase—it is a very real and vital part of helping to plan and develop healthy communities throughout California.”

This legislation is co-sponsored by two community oriented organizations—the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) and the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CJEA)—who are active in the fight to educate and empower local residents against environmental hazards in primarily disadvantaged communities in California.

“It’s a simple idea. The EJ element in General Plans provides an institutional mechanism to assist cities and counties in identifying and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in their boundaries.  Through the implementation of the EJ element, local governments can be more competitive in accessing state resources and addressing critical issues like reducing pollution exposure and promoting better food access, healthier homes, and improved physical activity in a comprehensive and equitable manner.  If it can work in Jurupa Valley, the state’s newest city, it can work across the state,” said Penny Newman, CCAEJ Executive Director and author of the EJ element in Jurupa Valley.

SB 1000 has not yet been assigned to Senate policy committee(s) for consideration.