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San Diego Creates 'Climate Equity Fund' For Disadvantaged Communities

A pedestrian crosses a street in City Heights, June 19, 2017.
Nicholas McVicker
A pedestrian crosses a street in City Heights, June 19, 2017.

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday voted to establish a climate equity fund that aims to help disadvantaged communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

Low-income communities of color already suffer disproportionately from poor air quality and extreme heat, and often lack parks, safe streets and other amenities that make neighborhoods more livable in a warming planet.

San Diego Creates ‘Climate Equity Fund’ For Disadvantaged Communities
Listen to this story by Andrew Bowen.

The fund, which was proposed by Councilmember Vivian Moreno and Mayor Todd Gloria, would dedicate a portion of city tax and fee revenues to make up for those deficits. Projects could include bike lanes, sidewalks, streetlights and park improvements.

"The lack of investment by the city of San Diego has had a domino effect in other public and private investments within these areas, including insufficient access to goods and services," Moreno said.

Eligibility for funding would be based on the city's climate equity index, which compiles environmental, health, economic and other data. The vast majority of eligible neighborhoods are south of Interstate-8.

VIDEO: San Diego Creates 'Climate Equity Fund' For Disadvantaged Communities

Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera noted many of those neighborhoods have also historically been the victims of racist government policies like redlining, which excluded people of color from living in high-opportunity neighborhoods.

"People, decision makers in similar positions to what we are in today, made intentional decisions to set these communities back," Elo-Rivera said. "We're not going to stumble into equity. We're going to have to be very, very committed and intentional about how we get there."

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The vast majority of the dollars would come from the franchise fees the city charges San Diego Gas & Electric to operate its equipment on public land. Gloria is preparing to restart a bidding process that will determine how much the city receives from those fees going forward.

The climate equity fund is expected to receive about $4.8 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.