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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 17, 2019
Jenny Park, email@example.com, 415-867-1166
Nahal Ipakchi, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-464-5114
SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) voted today to amend its plan to support more just and equitable management of the San Francisco Bay. Environmental Justice and Social Equity policies were developed in close collaboration with five Bay Area community groups that formed the Environmental Justice Review Team (EJRT).
The community groups are calling today's vote a historic moment given the deep-seated inequities that have resulted in people of color and low-income communities disproportionately bearing the environmental and public health burdens of the climate crisis.
"Climate change creates a multiplier effect for communities who are already grappling with threats from skyrocketing rents, displacement, rising sea levels, just to mention a few," said Carl Anthony, co-director of Breakthrough Communities. "Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy taught us that the development of public infrastructure cannot keep happening without thoughtful consideration of vulnerable communities' needs. BCDC's amendments send a strong signal that development proposals should—and must—account for their needs."
With BCDC's jurisdiction over shoreline development around the Bay—where many under-resourced communities live near oil refineries, ports, and other industrial sites—the new policies have important implications for change as they require involvement of impacted communities in project development and the equitable distribution of public access and benefits. Specifically, the new policies will:
BCDC's new policies reflect a commitment to fully embrace principles of environmental justice, and to implement policies and practices that acknowledge historically marginalized communities. With this amendment, BCDC is joining a growing movement among state agencies, such as the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission, that have developed similar approaches to advancing equity in their respective decision making.
"Most government agencies typically assign a staff task force or informal committee to address environmental justice," said Sheridan Noelani Enomoto, a community organizer with Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. "That BCDC formed a working group of commissioners who took the time and energy to work on these amendments is a really big deal. It sends a powerful signal that private developers' gains cannot come at the expense of local communities' needs."
Members of the Environmental Justice Review Team remain committed to working with BCDC staff to ensure an effective implementation of the new policies.
"Just two weeks ago, we had to mobilize around a massive project proposed in Bayview-Hunters Point, where residents have historically been excluded from developments going up in the area, much less been welcomed into places in their neighborhood that have been designated as public access areas," said Enomoto. "These policies give BCDC staff concrete guidelines for how to review and manage proposals like this in a transparent, equitable, and accessible way. We look forward to working with the agency and community members to build a resilient San Francisco Bay Area where even the most vulnerable among us can thrive."
BCDC's amendments were developed through a strategic and targeted community engagement strategy, with input from the public and the following group of five Bay Area equity and social justice organizations that form the Environmental Justice Review Team:
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice (Sheridan Noelani Enomoto, email@example.com) is a multiracial grassroots organization that fights for health and environmental justice alongside low-income and working class, urban, rural, and indigenous communities. Founded in 1997 by grassroots community leaders, Greenaction has been at the forefront of the environmental justice movement for more than two decades.
Nuestra Casa (Julio Garcia, firstname.lastname@example.org) works with Latino and other underrepresented families in East Palo Alto and the mid-peninsula through community education, leadership development, and advocacy. Since 2002, Nuestra Casa has been accelerating plans to address systemic issues by lifting up the voices of the most marginalized and vulnerable by building their leadership and advocacy skills. Over the past few years, Nuestra Casa has focused on Environmental Justice issues and conversations; working to lead their community with the necessary education and skills to not only survive, but to thrive in this climate reality.
Breakthrough Communities (Carl Anthony, email@example.com) offers proven strategies that demonstrate that every voice matters, as we re-imagine the future of our cities and of the planet. These are grounded visions of hope and possibility, where social justice forges a new road for economic and environmental sustainability.
Shore Up Marin City (Terrie Green, firstname.lastname@example.org) is a culturally diverse, environmental, and social justice community organization, advocating for equitable inclusion of low-income vulnerable communities focusing on resiliency planning, emergency preparedness, sea level rise/flooding, community leadership, and air, soil and water quality.
EcoEquity Consulting (Nahal Ipakchi, email@example.com) is a woman-of-color owned Environmental Justice and Social Equity advocacy and policy research consulting firm, working in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the state of California. With a growing reputation as a trusted and strategic bridge-builder among underrepresented communities and government, EcoEquity designs and facilitates collaborative projects to help embed environmental justice and social equity into agency and organizational policies, programs and operations.