Attorney General Bonta Issues Guidance Promoting Environmental Justice for Marginalized Communities Across California

Friday, September 15, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued comprehensive guidance to local governments on effectively addressing environmental justice issues in their land use planning, as required by Senate Bill 1000. Historically, California’s most vulnerable populations have borne the brunt of pollution from industrial development — breathing in the worst air, drinking the worst water, and tragically, developing cancer at higher rates. Today’s guidance provides cities and counties with the information they need to comply with SB 1000 and to develop land use plans that address these inequities, decrease the pollution exposure of their communities, and improve the overall health of residents.

“Every Californian deserves to grow up, live, and work in an environment that is clean, safe and healthy,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The harsh reality is that some of our most vulnerable communities – particularly low-income communities and communities of color – continue to suffer disproportionate harm from unjust land use policies set into motion decades ago. SB 1000 is one of the best tools we have to address these harms. Today’s guidance is an important step forward in my office’s efforts to help counties and cities comply with the law and look out for their residents. I urge local governments to go through this guidance carefully and use it to develop robust policies that contribute to a happier, healthier California.”

Studies have found that due to poor land use decisions and historic discriminatory housing practices such as redlining, low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to be located near sources of pollution such as oil wells and plastic manufacturing plants, and to have less access to parks and green spaces.

In 2016, the California Legislature passed SB 1000, which requires local governments to address these disparities when developing or updating their general plans for land use. SB 1000 requires local governments to identify disadvantaged communities in their local planning area, engage with communities in developing their plans, and adopt environmental justice policies that address specific topics like reducing air pollution exposure, promoting physical activity, and ensuring communities have access to safe and sanitary homes.

Today’s guidance, prepared by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice, provides best practices, resources, and tools that cities and counties can use as they implement SB 1000. It also includes a chart with more than 120 real-world example policies that have been adopted by local governments all across the state.

The guidance covers all aspects of SB 1000 compliance, including:

  • How to identify disadvantaged communities and prioritize their needs.
  • How to effectively conduct community engagement.
  • How to reduce the health risks faced by communities due to pollution exposure.
  • How to develop policies that promote safe and sanitary homes.
  • How to address disparities in access to parks and green spaces, and amenities such as bicycle lanes and public transit.
  • How to ensure more equitable access to healthy food for residents.

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. In April 2021, he announced the expansion of the Bureau of Environmental Justice – the first of its kind in a state attorney general’s office. In December 2021, he announced a settlement with the City of Huntington Park to ensure the development and adoption of a meaningful, tailored environmental justice element. In March 2022, he sent a letter to the County of Fresno identifying numerous deficiencies in its draft General Plan, including failure to include environmental justice policies and failure to adopt climate adaption and resilience goals, policies, objectives, or implementation measures.  You can find more information on the Bureau of Environmental Justice and its work at:

Today’s guidance and related documents can be found here.

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