Environmental Justice Element
The City of Watsonville is developing its first Environmental Justice Element. Environmental Justice is defined by the State of California as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and national origins with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
The Environmental Justice Element will be part of the City’s General Plan, and will reflect the City’s commitment to reducing environmental burdens and ensuring all residents have the opportunity to access public facilities and services that improve their quality of life.
Why is the City developing an Environmental Justice Element?
California State law requires every local jurisdiction to prepare and adopt a comprehensive and long‐range general plan to guide its growth and physical development. The General Plan provides a consistent framework for land use and development decisions in accordance with an established community vision. In 2016, the State of California passed Senate Bill 1000 (SB 1000)—the Planning for Healthy Communities Act—requiring cities and counties to address environmental justice within their general plans.
What will the City's Environmental Justice Element include?
The Environmental Justice Element will include objectives and policies that aim to:
- Reduce pollution exposure
- Improve access to public facilities (e.g., libraries, parks, sidewalks, trails, transit, community centers, potable water, flood control)
- Promote food access
- Promote safe and sanitary housing
- Promote physical activity
- Promote civic engagement
- Prioritize improvements and programs to address the needs of disadvantaged communities
Disadvantaged communities refers to the areas that are disproportionately impacted by, or vulnerable to, environmental pollution. The City will use the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen) and the Department of Water Resources Disadvantaged Communities Mapping Tool to identify disadvantaged communities. The City used these screening tools and various supplemental datasets to conduct a preliminary assessment of the City’s disadvantaged communities in order to better understand the drivers of inequality.
Public engagement is a critical component in the development of the City’s Environmental Justice Element. There will be multiple opportunities to participate throughout the development of the element.
A survey conducted earlier this year helped identify conditions, issues and potential improvements important to ensuring all community members have access to healthy living conditions and environments. Presently, a second survey is underway to further understand key concerns by asking for feedback on the following three questions:
- What public facilities or services do you feel are missing from your neighborhood (such as parks, recreation or community centers, community gardens, daycares, bus stops, health clinics, etc.)?
- What would help you live a healthier lifestyle (such as affordable health insurance, farmers or produce markets closer to your home, recreational programs, improved bike/pedestrian paths, etc.)?
- What would make it easier for you to participate in local planning or decision making processes (such as affordable internet access, transportation to meetings, more information about local planning, etc.)?
Help us determine how and where to prioritize environmental justice strategies, policies and programs to promote a more equitable community by taking the Environmental Justice Survey. Here are links in English and Spanish:
To ensure the Environmental Justice Element reflects local conditions and community priorities, the City developed a Community Advisory Committee, composed of people with experience and knowledge about the community and environmental challenges. For this Environmental Justice Element, the City will host two Community Advisory Committee meetings to inform and support the Environmental Justice Element planning process.
- Community Advisory Committee Meeting #1: March 25, 5:30-7:00 PM (agenda, presentation slides, video)
- Community Advisory Committee Meeting #2: Date/Time TBD
For more information or to request informational materials please contact:
- Justin Meek, AICP Principal Planner, City of Watsonville
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: (831) 768-3050
Image credit: One Day by Kelli MacConnell