Local Jurisdictions in Southern California Getting to Know Senate Bill 1000

Through the Planners4Health initiative, the Inland Empire section of the American Planning Association, in partnership with the Riverside University Health System – Public Health, recently hosted a convening to learn and discuss opportunities for policy development and implementation around the State’s Senate Bill 1000. This convening, SB 1000: From Policy to Action, was designed to bring together stakeholders from the areas of public health, planning, healthcare providers, nonprofits, academics, and others to set a collaborative framework for the regional implementation of Senate Bill 1000 in Southern California.

So what does Senate Bill 1000 require? 

In 2016, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1000 – Land use: general plans: safety and environmental justice (Leyva, Chapter 587), requiring cities and counties with disadvantaged communities to incorporate environmental justice policies into their General Plans, either in a separate element or by integrating related goals, policies, and objectives throughout the other elements. While environmental justice and social equity are important issues to our communities, California state law has not previously required consideration of environmental justice issues as part of the community planning process. In some cases, this has resulted in poorly planned land-use practices where pollution producing industries, freeways, or freight facilities are located in close proximity to homes and schools. Low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to be located in these areas and suffer from exposure to toxic chemicals, leading to higher rates of asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers compared to more affluent communities.

With the passage of SB 1000, all jurisdictions are now required to identify lower-income communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution and other environmental justice issues. Once these communities have been identified, local and regional jurisdictions are required to create goals, policies, and objectives to address a minimum of seven EJ-related issues, which includes: pollution exposure (including air quality), food access, public facilities, safe and sanitary homes, physical activity, community engagement, and the prioritization of improvements and programs addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities. General Plans are (ideally) updated every five to 10 year and so many local jurisdictions have yet to implement this new requirement and are still learning how to effectively put this policy into practice.

At the SB 1000 convening, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about SB 1000 and engage in cross-sectoral roundtable discussions related to topics pertaining to General Plans and effective SB 1000 implementation. The Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is the official state entity that provides guidance on various land use planning policies, including SB 1000. The SB 1000 General Plan Guidelines are available on the OPR website. The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), in collaborations with PlaceWorks Inc., also created a Senate Bill 1000 Toolkit intended for local governments, planners, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders who will be working to implement SB 1000 requirements.

Even though a majority of attendees represented Inland Empire communities, the issues are common to what Harbor area communities face as well, such as truck traffic, close proximity to polluting industries, high rates of air pollution-related health conditions, and other issues. Another common thread is wanting to ensure healthy, just, and livable communities. There is opportunity to learn from each other and engage at a regional level to ensure that SB 1000 is implemented effectively.

A key element of SB 1000 is engaging the community to ensure that local governments and community stakeholders are working together to proactively address environmental justice concerns when developing long-term goals and policies that will impact the future growth of the community.

Here is a starting list of some potential actions to take:

  • Look into the available SB 1000 resources to identify useful strategies for SB 1000 planning & implementation. Good places to start include:
  • Community members can find out where your city or county is in updating their general plan or SB 1000 implementation in order to engage in the process.
  • Planners can also reach out to their local health department, public health entities, local nonprofits, and other community advocates to ensure meaningful community engagement in the SB 1000 implementation process and that EJ concerns are addressed in the long-term planning process.
  • If already engaged in the SB 1000 process in your local community, think about who is missing at the table and make an effort to invite them.

Additionally, the organizers of the convening will release a report based on the discussions and ideas generated during the meeting. In the coming months, HCBF will disseminate the report to stakeholders. Stay tuned!