COMMUNITY INVESTMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Excerpt from the Tulare County General Plan
“[T]hese non-viable communities would, as a consequence of withholding major public facilities such as sewer and water systems, enter a process of long term, natural decline as residents depart for improved opportunities in nearby communities.”
Environmental injustices are complex issues that not only sit at the intersection of class and race, but also need to be examined and approached at every level of government: federal, state, county and city. In addition to the environmental and health impacts of polluting industries, environmental justice communities in California also deal with a lack of infrastructure and access to resources. Historically, City and County governments have used local land use policies to racially segregate communities through redlining which restricted where people of color could own property. Often these areas were within or next to areas zoned for industrial use, designated for highway construction, or for waste disposal. As part of long-range plans, Cities and Counties would often include language that would restrict public services such as water and wastewater service, parks, and sanitation. What this looks like is that these communities often don’t have basics such as street curbs, sidewalks or even drinking water. This lack of infrastructure has a variety of health and safety impacts and greatly lowers the residents’ quality of life. While these policies have been removed from the law, the legacy of these policies continues today.
CRPE works with low income communities and communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley to reverse the impacts of these policies. We do this by strong community leaders who understand land use policies and have a vision for how they would like to see their communities grow. These leaders engage with their local decision-makers and hold them accountable to a health protective and equitable community vision. We have a three prong approach to our community investment and land us work:
- Reduce pollution in communities by improving water quality, preventing the siting of polluting industries, or mitigation pollution of existing facilities.
- Working with community members to develop an equitable vision for their communities as reflecting in long-range plans such as General Plans.
- Attracting funding for community-driven projects that are consistent with the community’s long-term vision.