To our 200 members and friends, because of our discrimination lawsuit vs California Air Resources Board (CARB), we are receiving substantial inquiries. The following most frequently asked questions and our responses may help describe our efforts at addressing the environmental regulatory actions that have inhibited increased homeownership of moderate and lower income families, especially families of color.
Any additional questions can be directed to John Gamboa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What’s the difference between The 200 and California Community Builders?
A. CCB is the nonprofit corporation; the 200 is a project of CCB.
Q. Why is The 200 so vehemently opposed to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
A. If it appears that way, we are not doing a good job at presenting our position. We are not opposed to CEQA, just the opposite. We believe it is one of the most critical laws passed since the Voting Rights Act, but we believe it is being abused in lawsuits against housing by NIMBYs.
Q. Why do so many environmental organizations state you are attempting to weaken CEQA?
A. Because we are trying to make changes that we believe make it stronger. And they believe any modification opens the door to other so-called reforms that would weaken CEQA and harm the environment.
Q. What are the changes you are promoting?
A. First is to get rid of the ability to file CEQA lawsuits anonymously. Plaintiffs should have to identify themselves so they cannot hide like Ku Klux Klan members in their hoods. Second, to limit lawsuits against projects to one. The ability to file lawsuit after lawsuit against projects that already went through CEQA just to increase the building cost so builders become frustrated and quit, needs to end. And third, to make all losing plaintiffs pay all court costs.
Q. Why has CCB become such a target of environmentalists?
A. We believe it is a knee jerk reaction to our demand that CEQA lawsuit abuses end, since housing is the top target of CEQA lawsuits statewide. We also know they are mad about the lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for discrimination against communities of color. And, because some of our Leadership Council members have successfully opposed environmentalists’ actions that were harmful to communities of color.
Q. What is that about – isn’t CARB California’s first defense in the war on climate change?
A. Yes, its goals are critical to the planet and the future quality of life for our children and children’s children. But too many of CARB’s and other environmentalists’ actions have very negative impacts on racial minorities.
Q. How do they do this?
A. By creating policies and legislation that target pollution and promote conservation but have unintended but very harmful disproportionate effects on lower income communities.
Q. What’s an example of that happening?
A. Subsidies for solar panels. Subsidies to purchase solar panels are less than worthless for poor families who are financially unable to redeem the subsidy but are forced to pay through their electric bills for the subsidy to wealthier families, who can afford to redeem the discount. Wealthier families benefit twice, they pay 50% of panel costs and they get the benefit of lower electricity bills. The same goes for electric cars: richer families get financial subsidies to purchase electric automobiles and poorer families pay for the subsidies through their taxes.
Q. That may be the unintended consequence of subsidies but why have you sued the California Air Resources Board?
A. Because CARB’s new scoping plan flagrantly discriminates against communities of color.
Q. That’s a harsh statement, how does it do this?
A. Many ways. It raises the already astronomical cost of new homes, by CARB’s estimate, an average of $40,000. California’s average housing costs have already increased by $120,000 in the last three years. This additional cost pushes too many families of color who are already far behind in their ability to access homeownership, leaving them completely out of the market. This difficulty to become homeowners contributes to the current and growing wealth gap where white families enjoy more wealth than families of color. According to the Washington Post, the median net worth of white families remains nearly ten times the size of black families. YES 10 TIMES MORE! And the gap is increasing.
Q. How does the scoping plan increase new home costs?
A. It requires all new homes to be “net zero,” a requirement that the new homes utilize solar and other means to generate the same amount of energy it uses. It also expands CEQA, and makes it even easier to sue block new housing.
Q. Isn’t this a critical step to lower Greenhouse Gases (GHG) by emitting energy sources like coal?
A. It is but there are many more measures we can take that reduce GHG and don’t disproportionately target low and moderate home buyers. For example, forest lands that have been mismanaged become susceptible to catastrophic wildfires that emit huge amounts of GHGs. Just one forest fire wipes out all the gains of some of CARB’s proposals. Better forest management policies would eliminate the need for some of the regressive policies on communities of color.
Q. Is this all?
A. No, can you believe that the scoping plan also:
● Requires establishing a new polluting quota per person, you can guess who will find loopholes and who will have to comply.
● Creates a mandated vehicle mile travelled (VMT) mileage quota for each driver, a quota which will disproportionately raise commute costs of lower and moderate-income workers who commute much further to get to work from outlying affordable home communities.
Q. Do you believe environmental organizations purposely develop policies and promote programs that disproportionately affects communities of color?
A. Absolutely not, most of those organizations are composed of well-meaning community champions. The problem is because of the lack of ethnic diversity in the composition of their staff and leadership, they have little input or perspectives on how their policies and ideas are injuring our communities.
Q. What makes you believe they lack ethnic and racial diversity?
A. Their historical and current lack of diversity is a very well-known fact. A very recent report “Transparency Report Card” 1/10/19 by Green 2.0, an independent advocacy organization, revealed that their racial diversity of environmental organizations, which has never been very good, actually got even worse in the past year. CARB’s diversity is also lacking. CARB’s upper-management earning over $150 has only one Latino and no Black managers. And can you believe this, in the first lawsuit settlement meeting with us, of the nine people who were representing CARB, zero were Black or Latino.
Q. What do you believe will be the future relationship between environmental and community activists?
A. We have so much more in common than in opposition, eventually we will need to come together to oppose Trump’s administrations attack on climate change policies. And, perhaps support some form of the Green New Deal, which is currently being spearheaded by Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Green New Deal is a set of proposed economic programs that aim to address climate change and economic inequality.