In an effort to ensure all San Diego neighborhoods are better protected from environmental and health hazards and have access to resources to facilitate a healthy lifestyle, the City of San Diego is in the process of updating its General Plan with a new chapter titled the Environmental Justice Element. As part of the information gathering process, the City is soliciting input from residents to help shape this important update.
Results from the recently launched public survey will be used to draft the Environmental Justice Element. When finalized, the Element will help ensure people of all races, cultures and incomes are equitably valued and protected and served by laws, regulations and policies that impact the environment around them. This includes policies regarding buildings and uses of land, transportation, parks and natural spaces, the urban landscape and city services.
“Under my watch, every decision we make at City Hall will be viewed through the lens of equity,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “This is particularly necessary when it comes to environmental issues. Not only will we protect communities that have been subjected to pollution; we will also ensure that all communities share in the benefits of our environmental and sustainability initiatives. I strongly encourage San Diegans to participate in this survey, especially those who live in historically underserved neighborhoods. Help create a city for all of us."
City staff will use residents’ input from the survey and other information sources to identify issues and areas that may be experiencing a lack of equitable services and protections. Other specific topics that will be covered in the Environmental Justice Element include:
Access to safe spaces for physical activity, health care and paramedic services.
Exposure to increased health risks due to the influence of climate change.
Access to safe and healthy housing.
Ability of residents to engage with each other and the City to make decisions that impact community and environmental health.
“We recognize that not every neighborhood in San Diego has the same level of environmental conditions, and that race, ethnicity and income affect residents’ ability to access safe and healthy neighborhoods,” said Mike Hansen, director of the City’s Planning Department. “This initiative is needed to identify which neighborhoods are most affected by pollution, limited access to healthy foods and insufficient infrastructure and public facilities. It will provide new policies about how we can improve neighborhoods and help guide future investments in an equitable manner.”
The development of a draft version of the Environmental Justice Element will continue over the year and will require City Council approval. To learn more and take the survey, City residents are encouraged to visit the project webpage. The survey will be open until Feb. 28 and is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Tagalog, Arabic, Somali, Swahili, and Karen.