Oakland City Council Greenlights “Equity Checklist;” Adopts OCAC’s PCA Recommendations
On Wednesday, June 17, the full Oakland City Council voted to approve recommendations for Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) put together by city staff and a coalition of environmental advocates, at the request of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Following the 6-0 vote, which came a day after the hometown Golden State Warriors claimed the NBA title, the advocates declared the outcome a “slam-dunk victory” for both the environment and Oakland’s most vulnerable communities.
The Council resolution formally adopted the “Equity Checklist,” the result of a collaborative process between a coalition which includes members of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC), Urban Releaf, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), Oakland Food Policy Council (OFPC), Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), and Bay Localize. Developed to align Oakland’s PCA selection process with the state’s methodology under landmark environmental justice law SB 535, the Equity Checklist contains guidelines for achieving economic equity, social inclusion, and good health for all – particularly in disadvantaged communities which have been identified by the state EPA’s CalEnviroScreen map as bearing a disproportionate pollution burden. By following these guidelines, these communities will become eligible for millions in funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF).
In addition to the Equity Checklist, the Council adopted into its resolution a motion to create a Community Advisory Committee that will help ensure robust community participation in the planning and implementation of urban greening projects. The Community Advisory Committee will vet PCA projects according to both community benefits outlined in the Equity Checklist and the potential for the project to effectively meet the specific challenges identified by the PCA map. The Council also amended the resolution to include all eight creeks identified in the city’s Open Space, Conservation and Recreation (OSCAR) General Plan, making projects in these greenways eligible for funding from ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
“This is a huge win for environmentalists and an important step in truly making Oakland one of America’s greenest cities. By adopting the Equity Checklist, the city now has a framework for investment which can transform flatland neighborhoods from environmental hotspots to sustainable neighborhoods,” said Eric Arnold of Urban Releaf. Former Oakland city planner and current OFPC member David Ralston called the resolution a “cutting-edge green plan that was shaped by environmental justice advocates.” Yassi Eskandari of SELC noted that, “This is an opportunity to resource new and existing community-based resilience efforts that will increase public health through park access, healthy food, and other projects that mitigate the harmful health impacts of industry, transportation, and development.” Former Port Commissioner Ms. Margaret Gordon of WOEIP stated, “Some of our local infrastructure is over a hundred years old. Designating the PCAs could help the city get some money to fix our broken storm water systems, plant trees, and take care of our neighborhood parks. Flatland residents need healthier neighborhoods. We have been ignored for too long.”
RFPs for grant proposals from ABAG and MTC are expected later this year.
To see the OCAC’s current version of the Equity Checklist, visit here.