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Activists Push For Environmental Justice In San Diego Neighborhoods

October 23, 2018 1:49 p.m.

Activists Push For Environmental Justice In San Diego


Carolina Martínez, policy director, Environmental Health Coalition

Related Story: Activists Push For Environmental Justice In San Diego Neighborhoods


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is Kate PBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with San Diego be in a better position to reach its climate action goals if it focused more resources on low income communities. The answer from the Environmental Health Coalition is yes the E H C Monday issued a report on the progress the city is making toward its renewable energy goals including the potential to make big changes in San Diego's communities of color. State Assemblyman Todd Gloria spoke about the release of the E H C report.

I know that communities like City Heights like Barrio Logan like saying are the communities that are most directly at harmfully impacted by the problems of climate change and as a consequence they also provide the opportunity to have the most transformational change the investments that we had the SES says transportation justice is the most important message of this report.

Joining me is Catalina Martinez a policy director at Environmental Health Coalition. Catalina welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having us tonight. Now why is transportation justice.

Well so what the report is saying that 54 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions in the city of San Diego actually in the region and at the state level. Pretty similar. It's coming from transportation. So it means that we need to stop driving single occupancy vehicles if we really want to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and we need to transform our mass transit system in the next 10 years. And so the report is saying reduce our vehicle miles travel by taking streets out of the taking cars out of the street and increasing the number of buses. And also how frequent people are able to access the trolley and the bus. Our communities also say that mass transit in Sandy was really expensive. So we need to make it affordable. A lot of jobs are not being able to be accessible via mass transit. Seventy percent of jobs are not reachable within 90 minutes of public transit. And new. That's a lot. And so it's limiting the way the region grows and also people being able to access jobs.

Now what is an environmental justice community. Those communities that have been identified as environmental justice communities where are they located in San Diego.

Environmental justice communities are low income communities of color that are impacted more by climate change and toxic pollution. And so in San Diego they are located in modern Logan in City Heights Sherman Heights because they're mean a lot more exposed to pollution that's coming from the board from the freeways. If you if you look at a map of the freeways in San Diego you'll see that they're all located next to low income communities of color.

And why is Ocean Beach and Mission Beach and parts of Pacific Beach also included in that category.

Well because if you look at the definition of the cities in the Climate Action Plan of disadvantaged communities it includes all communities that are at the top 30 percent of most impacted communities at the state level as well as CBG areas. And so that includes 60 per cent of the city's population. So we should face the implementation and and look at the top 30 percent.

What does the city's plan say about how to allocate funds to communities of color impacted by climate change.

Well that's one of the outcomes of start here. Now in 2015 the city approved in the Climate Action Plan a priority for EJA communities because the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and toxic pollution are in EJA communities. So we are at the front lines of the issue but also the solution. If we if our communities are not seeing benefits that means there is a question of how effective the Climate Action Plan Implementation is overall. So if we see progress in environmental justice communities that means the whole city is going to benefit. And that's demonstrating that we're actually tackling climate change at the city level.

Now what other initiatives would the Coalition like to see in these communities besides public transportation.

Well I think we should also talk about what type of mass public transportation we have to emphasize that the buses need to be cleaned vehicles if we want to see improvements we need to ensure it's a fordable and that there is a full network. So that means that it links peoples to It links people to jobs and then we also have to include freight because San Diego is a port of entry. So we have to ensure that the city is tapping into resources to transition trucks into clean vehicles so that. So those are very important components. And it's also important to highlight that the city doesn't have to do this alone. Transportation it's a regional issue and sandbag and empty areas are the bigger decision makers. And so the city has to make sure that the regional agencies are doing their part.

I've been speaking with Carolina Martino's policy director at the Environmental Health Coalition. Carolina thank you so much. Thank you.