Under the auspices of CCB’s The Two Hundred Project, we filed a lawsuit after failing to convince the California Air resources Board (CARB) to modify its new scoping plan so it does not unfairly and disproportionately affect families of color. The Two Hundred filed a civil rights discrimination lawsuit on April 27, 2018.
Enclosed is a background description and explanation of why we had to take this action.
Also, on July 23, 2018 a settlement hearing was held to see if we could reach a compromise to avoid the suit. Their attorneys warned me that I could not disclose details of this meeting however you can guess by the tone of this communication how well that went. They will get back to us in three weeks and perhaps I will be free to share the results with you.
The Two Hundred (The 200) has filed a civil rights violation lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to stop implementation of their scoping plan. A plan that is very detrimental to the health and economic welfare of California’s communities of color. CARB is supposed to be the clean air agency protecting Californians from unhealthy and polluted air. It has 1500 employees to do this with 15 board members.
CARB’s scoping plan has four measures that expand the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and make it even more expensive to build homes. As we know, CEQA has been for a long time, misused by wealthier white homeowners (NIMBYS) to keep minorities out of their neighborhoods they do this by filing numerous anonymous CEQA lawsuits on workforce and affordable housing developments that eventually discourage builders or stops projects.
The scoping plan four measures include:
● A “net zero” requirement that all new houses produce an equal amount of renewable energy as it consumes through efficient design and “renewable” sources like solar; it adds $40,000 to home construction costs (CARB estimate)
● A numeric per capita threshold or a per person polluting quota. (Can you believe this?). Cities and counties are supposed to come up with ways to enforce this.
● A mandated “vehicle mile travelled” mileage quota for each person with a per mile charge. This charge will hit communities of color hardest because they commute farther to work from lower cost of living regions.
● And a “vibrant communities appendix” which quite frankly we have tried but failed to totally understand. It directs eight, (yes eight) state agencies to act as big brothers and block the few housing projects already approved by local governments. They can also block voter approved new infrastructure transportation projects.
The stated purpose of this “scoping plan” is to address climate change by decreasing greenhouse gases (GHG). A good cause but not a critical one because California only contributes 1% GHG worldwide and this scoping plan will only decrease this amount by 1% (yes, 1% of 1%). Last year California’s grass and forest fires created nearly five times more air pollution than the goal they are trying to achieve.
The unintended consequence of this scoping plan increases the already astronomical cost of housing and cost of living in California. These costs disproportionately attacks low and moderate income families and endangers the economic future of the state.
The high cost of housing affects the communities we are most counting on to keep California afloat and to fund the senior entitlement programs our elderly are planning on.
California has the highest housing and living costs in the nation – 2 million Californian children live below the national poverty line. Our housing shortage and housing prices are a primary source of our huge and growing homeless. The primary cause of this catastrophe is the shortage of 3 million homes to meet the need. The scoping plan raises the cost of housing by making it easier to file CEQA lawsuits that reduce overall supply at a time we need it most.
Families of color are disproportionately affected. Thanks to decades of redlining, predatory lending and the recent mortgage meltdown African American wealth is 16 times less than that of white families (Forbes).
In spite of this, CARB’s scoping plan would add additional cost to home building to meet the net zero goal. And in doing so would push working families farther away from work to find low cost housing and then charge them a per mile fee for driving more.
The scoping plan also contributes to gentrification by encouraging destruction of workforce housing to build expensive apartment towers current residents will not be able to afford.
The Two Hundred (The 200) believes in preserving the environment for our children too – but our families shouldn’t have to shoulder most of the effort and cost.
Millennials, Minorities, and Students (M&Ms) will be the first generation to be less well off than their parents. How will they afford homes, families and student debt and still pay California seniors’ entitlement programs they have become accustomed to?
California needs to develop legislation similar to CEQA that measures the actual impact of protecting the environment policies on people and livelihoods, perhaps, a California People’s Quality Act (CPQA). In this way, laws such as CEQA could be forced to distribute the cost and benefits of environmental protection more fairly. This is particularly important for communities of color which are often disproportionately negatively impacted by public policy. We should pay our share to clean the environment but only our fair share.