Attorney General Bonta Announces Settlement with Huntington Park to Address Environmental Justice in Local Land Use Planning
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a settlement with the City of Huntington Park to bring the city into compliance with Senate Bill 1000 (SB 1000), a law requiring local governments to address environmental justice in their land use planning. The City of Huntington Park faces some of the highest pollution levels in the state, and its residents are at increased risk of asthma, cardiovascular disease, and other health burdens. Huntington Park is exactly the type of community that SB 1000 seeks to protect; despite this, the city failed to meet any of SB 1000's requirements when it adopted its 2030 General Plan. Today's settlement will require the City of Huntington Park to take immediate action to come into compliance with SB 1000. It also sets enforceable compliance milestones to ensure the development and adoption of a meaningful, tailored environmental justice element that considers input from the impacted communities regarding their environmental burdens, concerns, and priorities.
“Time and time again, we've seen environmental injustices perpetuated in our local land use decisions in ways that hurt low-income communities and communities of color for years and decades down the line,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “SB 1000 is one of the best tools we have to ensure that local governments consider the impacts to these disadvantaged communities in their land use planning. Today's settlement builds on a years-long effort by our Bureau of Environmental Justice to promote effective environmental justice planning at the local level. The settlement requires the City of Huntington Park to take immediate action to come into compliance with SB 1000 and to work with the local communities most affected by these decisions as it does so. As the People's Attorney, I won't stop fighting to address historic wrongs and lift up the voices of those communities who live at the intersection of poverty and pollution.”
“With this settlement today, our communities and our environment have won and I want to extend a thank you to Attorney General Bonta for keeping our cities and counties accountable to their residents. SB 1000 was signed into law in 2016, with the goal that the communities directly impacted by harmful environmental practices be appropriately engaged in the planning of their communities and that local governments think holistically about their environmental justice elements,” and Senator Connie Leyva. “We must do all we can to keep our locals accountable for the land use and environmental decisions they make.”
SB 1000, authored by Senator Levya, requires local governments to include environmental justice policies when they update their general plan. To comply with SB 1000, the general plan must identify and describe any disadvantaged communities in its jurisdiction, include meaningful and tailored environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives to address the needs of these communities, and be developed in coordination with the local community.
Today's settlement will bring the City of Huntington Park into compliance with SB 1000. The terms of the settlement include:
- Community Engagement: The City of Huntington Park will be required to develop a robust community engagement strategy. This must include the development of partnerships with community organizations, a series of community meetings, a community survey, and the creation of a webpage with environmental justice and SB 1000-related documents.
- Identification of Disadvantaged Communities: The City of Huntington Park must, in consultation with community members, identify and describe the disadvantaged communities located within the city. For each identified community, the city must include a description of the community’s unique characteristics, burdens, and needs.
- Environmental Justice Policies: The City of Huntington Park will be required to draft meaningful, tailored environmental justice policies that address the specific needs of the city’s disadvantaged communities. This includes policies that reduce exposure to pollution, improve air quality, promote equitable access to public facilities, increase food access, promote physical activity, promote civil engagement in the public decision-making process, and prioritize improvements and programs that address the needs of disadvantaged communities. In order to address climate change and pollution impacts, the city will also be required to expand urban forests through the planting of trees.
- Housing Policies: The City of Huntington Park will be required to adopt policies that address “safe and sanitary homes.” This includes consideration of housing locations, availability, accessibility, quality, affordability, and lead in housing in the policies it develops under this category.
- Compliance Benchmarks: The settlement includes a detailed timeline for compliance and requires the city to participate in monthly meetings with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that the city remains in compliance with the terms of the settlement.
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) also negotiated a settlement on behalf of the California Department of Housing and Community Development to address housing needs in the City of Huntington Park. That settlement was approved in November.
Since 2018, DOJ’s Bureau of Environmental Justice has submitted a dozen comment letters to cities and counties to promote SB 1000 compliance in their general plans. More information on the Bureau’s SB 1000 work can be found here: https://oag.ca.gov/environment/sb1000.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to fighting environmental injustices throughout the state of California and being a voice for frontline communities who are all too often under-resourced and overburdened. On April 28, 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced the expansion of the Bureau of Environmental Justice. You can find more information on the Bureau and its work at: https://oag.ca.gov/environment/justice.
A copy of the settlement is available here.