By Jim Miller
In a recent interview, Naomi Klein discussed the reality facing anyone interested in promoting meaningful climate action. The “structural problem” we face, according to Klein, is that people can “simultaneously understand the medium and long-term risks of climate change” and continue to believe that it is in their “short-term economy.” [or political] interest ”to continue business as usual. This is precisely the situation that the people of San Diego face when dealing with the limited vision of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) when it comes to taking the necessary steps to deal with the pressing threat of climate change at the local level.
As Doug Porter pointed out here in the San Diego Free Press, given SANDAG’s history, it’s easy to be cynical about our regional planning efforts. Nonetheless, our future hopes depend on our ability not to give up. We must continue to campaign for a just and sustainable future.
Last Friday, the San Diego Quality of Life Coalition, a group of labor, environmental, social justice, affordable housing and transit organizations representing more than 150,000 San Diego County residents submitted a vision statement to SANDAG Meetings of the Transport and Land Use Planning Committee for consideration as the basis for the sales tax voting measure currently under discussion in SANDAG.
This coalition, historically unique to San Diego, is made up of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 569), the Climate Action Campaign, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and its Environmental Caucus, the Federation American Teachers (Local 1931), Plumbers and Pipefitters (Local 230), San Diego 350.org, San Diego Coast Keeper, Center on Policy Initiatives, Surfrider Foundation, Environmental Center of San Diego, Environmental Heath Coalition, Sierra Club Chapitre de San Diego, Circulate San Diego, San Diego League of Conservation Voters, Mid-City Community Action Network, Bike San Diego, Community Budget Alliance, San Diego Audubon Society, Save Our Countryside, Save Our Cities, the Bike Coalition of San Diego County and the California Nurses Association.
After months of collaboration and discussion, the Quality of Life coalition has united around a vision centered on taking meaningful action on climate change with a focus on climate justice. The Quality of Life Coalition asked SANDAG to develop a voting measure aligned with these priorities. The goal is a measure that invests public money in a socially and environmentally equitable way (as needed). This coalition believes that the measure is an opportunity to invest in building a dynamic and inclusive economy that uplifts families, creates healthier communities and fights against climate change.
The Quality of Life Coalition’s vision, if implemented, would benefit residents across the county and allow communities in San Diego to leverage state and federal funds and accelerate regional efforts to reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases that cause climate change, a state requirement and a necessity.
You can read the vision statement here:
COALITION OF SAN DIEGO FOR QUALITY OF LIFE
Investing our public money in a socially and environmentally equitable manner to build a vibrant and inclusive economy that uplifts families, creates healthier communities and fights climate change.
OUR GOAL: PASS A QUALITY OF LIFE INITIATIVE SUPPORTING THIS VISION
- Adopt more sustainable and socially equitable land use patterns; preserve open space.
- Protect and improve water quality.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through enforceable measures in accordance with state law.
- Create good jobs for the middle class, especially in vulnerable neighborhoods.
- Develop affordable housing.
- Expand transit, cycling and walking options to reduce driving, traffic jams and air pollution.
HOW CAN WE GET THERE?
Preserve and expand open space
- Fund the completion of land acquisition for critical habitat for endangered species to support multi-species habit conservation plans, including support for the planning process, land acquisition at- beyond what is required for Transnet Project mitigation, habitat restoration and long-term management and monitoring.
Protect and improve regional water quality by improving stormwater management
- Fund improvements and expand maintenance of stormwater systems that prevent waste and pollution from being transported through storm sewers, watersheds and the ocean.
- Eligible projects must address source control and / or include regional multi-benefit projects that capture, infiltrate and reuse stormwater and support a sustainable local water supply.
Ensuring meaningful action on climate change
- Ensure that funding is given as a priority to transport projects in local governments that have adopted climate action plans with enforceable greenhouse gas reductions and performance measures in accordance with the law of the ‘State, including San Diego County.
Invest in social, economic and environmental equity
- Dedicate the majority of funding to communities identified as the most disadvantaged. To this end, disadvantaged communities are defined as the 25% of the 628 San Diego County census tracts that rank the highest in the region on the most recent version of CalEnviroScreen.
- Fair transit operations and fare structures that provide people of all ages with access to transportation essential to a quality life and develop long-term sustainable transportation habits.
- Provide training and employment opportunities to county residents through a project work agreement with three key provisions: 1) participation in state-approved joint labor-management apprenticeship; 2) local hiring with applicable standards targeting vulnerable communities and populations, such as ex-combatants; and 3) labor peace.
Develop a new source of funding to build affordable housing near public transport sites
- Demand earmarked funding for the creation of affordable transit-oriented housing and related infrastructure.
- In order to allow spending for funding earmarked for affordable housing development, demand that SANDAG pursue legislation to expand its spending power for such spending.
Accelerate construction of improvements to transit, bicycles and pedestrians over the next 10 years
- Finance the operations and maintenance of public transport.
- Reallocate the Transnet funds currently allocated to the addition of motorway lanes.
- Require that all future regional transportation plans, starting in 2019, align with QOLI priorities.
- QOLI will not fund freeway expansion (i.e. adding lanes to existing freeways or developing new freeways for greater vehicle capacity), but can be used for comprehensive street improvements in the city. district.
- Dedicate funds from QOLI to accelerate and finance new construction over the next ten years of transit and active transportation projects.
Note: Jim Miller is a member of AFT Local 1931, Chair of the Labor Council Environmental Caucus, and a member of the Quality of Life Coalition.