Senator Leyva Introduces Legislation to Protect California Communities and Residents from Pollutants

SB 499 Builds on Senator’s Previous Successful Work on Environmental Justice Planning Requirements

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Continuing her advocacy and work to expand environmental justice protections for communities across California, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) today introduced SB 499 to prohibit land uses that may significantly worsen local environmental quality or adversely impact health outcomes from being located or expanded within disadvantaged communities.

Sponsored by Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, the legislation would ban the most harmful land uses from being frequently located in California’s most disadvantaged communities and neighborhoods.  By limiting or stopping these facilities from being permitted in the first place, SB 499 can ensure more equitable access to clean air and water—and better health outcomes—for California residents and communities.  

“As the author of important legislation in 2016 that now requires the development of an Environmental Justice element in General Plans, I am proud to introduce SB 499 today which will ensure that disadvantaged communities no longer bear a disproportionate burden of pollution and environmental hazards,” Senator Leyva said.  “It is unacceptable that residents in disadvantaged communities—including in the 20th State Senate District and the Inland Empire—suffer higher rates of asthma, birth defects and cancer precisely because of land use decisions that largely disregard the needs and impacts to those communities.”

While SB 1000 (Leyva, 2016) established groundbreaking environmental justice planning requirements, implementation has shown that enhancements to the law are needed in order to stop the continued siting of toxic and polluting land uses within California’s most disadvantaged communities. For too long, cities and counties have approved permits for facilities that residents strongly oppose, prioritizing economic advancement over community and environmental health.

As a national environmental leader, California has made significant strides in cleaning the environment and air quality.  In spite of those many successes—and in order to improve the poor health outcomes and disinvestment that still plague disadvantaged communities—stronger and bolder laws like SB 499 are needed. 

SB 499 will be referred to the pertinent Senate policy committee(s) in the coming weeks.