Community Rejuvenation Project and The Greenlining Institute Announce Mural Project

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — The Greenlining Institute and the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) announced today a large-scale mural project in downtown Oakland. Over the next few months, CRP will design and install the Greenlining mural on the west-facing exterior wall of Greenlining’s 360 Center at 360 14th Street. in downtown Oakland. Additionally, CRP will be hosting a series of free community engagement events and public activities throughout the mural production process, including design workshops, a panel discussion, an art exhibition, and an artist talk.

The mural will incorporate themes related to Greenlining’s equity policy issue areas, along with content developed directly from community engagement events. Born from a multi-ethnic coalition that first came together in the 1980s to fight redlining, Greenlining works to expand economic opportunity for communities of color. Its work now embraces a wide variety of policy areas, including banking and economic policy, health, tech, energy and the green economy. The Greenlining 360 Center, opened in January 2017, has become a center for organizing and education, hosting hundreds of community events, meetings and trainings.

The project is a follow-up to CRP’s beloved “Universal Language,” also referred to as the Alice Street Mural, a tribute to the cultural history and resilience of the Afro-Diasporic and Chinese American communities centered around the intersection of Alice Street and 14th Street, which is no longer visible due to a new development at that location.  CRP founder and Director Desi Mundo, the lead artist for both “Universal Language” and the Greenlining Mural, said in a statement, “As the new development at 14th and Alice eclipses our ‘Universal Language’ mural, we’re heartened by the opportunity to re-engage in an in-depth dialogue with our community around our local cultural heroes and Oakland’s resiliency as a whole. Collaborating with The Greenlining Institute feels like a beautiful partnership because so much of their work has been creating systemic equity that will protect vulnerable communities from the forces of displacement. While we intend to continue the previous project’s reflection of our shared values and heroes, we need to be clear that this is a new piece that requires an equally thoughtful approach. This presents the opportunity to build on our past work, while evolving with Oakland.”

”We created the Greenlining 360 Center to be much more than an office building for nonprofits, but a true community hub,” said Greenlining Institute President Debra Gore-Mann. “As Oakland fights to maintain its identity in the face of gentrification and economic inequality, we hope this mural will not only add beauty to our city, but will also be a source of connection to the history and soul of Oakland.”

In addition to Mundo, artists selected for this project include Dave Young Kim, Marina Wong,  and Rachel Wolfe. Kim, an alumnus of CRP, has gone on to become a prolific muralist in his own right. Wong, a member of Twin Walls Mural Company, is one of the Bay Area’s rising stars in mural arts. Wolfe is the co-founder of the Bay Area Mural Program, a non-profit organization which combines public art with education. Funding for this project was made possible by Creative Work Fund (a program of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation), the California Arts Council, and a contribution from Bay Development.

Specific activities include:

  • February 5, 2020 at The Greenlining Institute: State of the Arts, a panel discussion with Francisco Sanchez, Dave Young Kim, and Dan Fontes, moderated by Eric Arnold;
  • February 11-14, 2020 at Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC), Malonga Casquelourd Center and Greenlining: community listening and input sessions;
  • March 11, 2020 at the Malonga Center:  Mural design and feedback session;
  • April 8 at OACC:  Mural design and feedback session;
  • April 15 at The Greenlining Institute: Mural design and feedback session;

Additional events at The Greenlining Institute:

  • May 1, 2020 Opening reception for art exhibit;
  • May 14, 2020:  Artist talk;
  • July 25, 2020: Mural dedication ceremony.

For a complete list of events, activities, dates, times, and locations click here.

Media contacts:

Bruce Mirken, The Greenlining Institute, (510) 926-4022 or brucem@greenlining.org.

Eric Arnold, CRP: (510) 681-8213 or escribe68@gmail.com; Desi Mundo, CRP: (510) 551-1096 or crpbayarea@gmail.com; For more information on The Greenlining Institute, please visit www.greenlining.org. For more information on CRP, please visit www.crpbayarea.org

 

Newsom’s Budget Omits Some Key Priorities for Communities of Color

Budget Strong on Health, Homelessness But Weakens Climate Efforts in Underserved Communities

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute expressed great concern about important programs left unfunded in the proposed state budget released today by Gov. Gavin Newsom, while applauding proposals that can help preserve and enhance economic opportunity for California’s communities of color.

Greenlining applauded the governor’s proposed infusion of capital into the fight against homelessness. “Affordable housing and homelessness represent critical challenges for California, and particularly for communities of color,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Adam Briones. “Black Californians represent about six and a half percent of our state’s population, but nearly 40 percent of California’s homeless. We look forward to seeing more bold leadership from the governor and legislature on this issue.”

Briones added, “Greenlining also applauds the Governor for addressing some pressing needs of small businesses, especially those owned by people of color. We are especially excited about his decision to propose an LLC fee waiver and look forward to assisting him in passing that legislation.”

Greenlining has long argued that addressing poverty and pollution at the same time must be core to the state’s fight against climate change. Unfortunately the proposed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund allocation eliminates funding for the most comprehensive, equitable, and transformational program, the Transformative Climate Communities Program, as well as for other programs critical to low-income communities. This follows a troubling pattern of underinvestment in programs known to deliver the most measurable, direct, and assured benefits to California’s disadvantaged communities.

“We are deeply troubled by the Governor’s decision to eliminate funding for the Transformative Climate Communities Program,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez. “We call on the governor and the legislature to reestablish funding for this important program and to invest more, not less, in programs that deliver real climate solutions to low-income communities of color that are hit hardest by climate change.”

Greenlining urges that these key programs be funded at the following levels:

  • $100 million for Transformative Climate Communities (zeroed out in Gov. Newsom’s proposal)
  • $100 million for Low Carbon Transportation Equity Programs  ($75 million in Newsom’s proposal)
  • $5 million for Regional Climate Collaboratives (also zeroed out in Newsom’s proposal)
  • $75 million for Low Income Weatherization (also zeroed out)

In addition, the governor proposes a $4 billion Climate Resilience Bond.  “Unfortunately,” Sanchez said, “this includes insufficient funds to build the resilience of the populations most vulnerable to climate change, so we will strongly urge more funding for communities most at risk.”

Greenlining’s Health Equity team applauded Gov. Newsom’s inclusion of funding for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented seniors as well as his $695 million proposal to transform Medi-Cal to provide comprehensive, coordinated physical and mental health services, especially for Californians lacking secure housing. “Coordinating funding to address housing as a health intervention is an important example of working across sectors to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable. We want to see more investments in jobs and economic opportunities as a health intervention as well,” said Greenlining Health Equity Program Manager Kelsey Lyles.

In light of the Jan. 1 expansion of Medi-Cal to cover all low income Californians under age 26 regardless of immigration status,  Greenlining emphasized the need for investments in health workforce and loan forgiveness programs so that providers are equipped to serve the diverse needs of communities of color.

Greenlining’s Technology Equity Team applauded the governor’s inclusion of resources to map the state of broadband connectivity in California. “These maps are critically needed and will finally provide the state the data necessary to ensure that everyone has access to a robust, open internet at reasonable prices,” said Greenlining Technology Equity Director Paul Goodman. “More accurate data, combined with the Governor’s commitment of $900 million over five years to improve California’s broadband infrastructure, will ensure that all Californians see the benefit of a robust, competitive market for internet service.  We are especially encouraged that governor acknowledges that California can include the construction of broadband infrastructure as part of other state projects.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Cable Companies Fail to Hire Minority-Owned Suppliers, New Report Finds

Comcast, Cox Communications Both Get “F” Grades in Greenlining Supplier Diversity Report Card  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Utility, telecommunications and water companies regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission continue to report overall growth in contracting with suppliers owned by people of color, women, disabled veterans and LGBT people, reports The Greenlining Institute in its latest Supplier Diversity Report Card. Still, some companies lagged, and results for particular groups were decidedly mixed.

Key findings of the report, compiled from 2018 data reported to the CPUC in 2019, include:

  • Comcast trails all other regulated companies in contracting with Minority Business Enterprises. Just 3.99 percent of Comcast’s contract dollars went to businesses owned by people of color, and its spending with businesses owned by women of color also ranked poorly at just 1.04 percent of total contracts.
  • Verizon Wireless sets the standard for diverse spending, with $290 million (33.92 percent) of its spending going towards businesses owned by people of color — more than 10x the amount of Comcast on diverse suppliers.
  • Although 37 percent of California businesses are owned by women of color, they got just 4.16 percent of contract spending in 2018.

Additional findings include:

  • Most companies improved their percentage of procurement dollars spent with Minority Business Enterprises in 2018, with Verizon Wireless and Sprint topping the rankings.
  • The cable industry continues to neglect supplier diversity, with Comcast (see above) and Cox both receiving grades of “F.”
  • Spending with African American-owned suppliers was a mixed bag, with a few companies’ spending dropping sharply.
  • Contracting with Latino-owned businesses increased at two thirds of companies, but overall levels remained low given the large Latino presence in California.
  • Spending with woman-owned businesses remained relatively flat.
  • Contracting with LGBT-owned businesses grew slightly but remained at generally low levels with a small number of exceptions.

“The groundbreaking supplier diversity efforts taken on by utility companies under the guiding principles of the California Public Utilities Commission’s General Order 156 have helped break the ‘old-boy network’ and create opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “We have seen that when commissioners make this effort a priority, it can generate unprecedented results. If our state is to remain competitive, regulated firms and their spending should reflect the demographics of our state.”

In 2018, the firms analyzed in Greenlining’s Supplier Diversity Report Card spent a combined $39.2 billion with outside contractors. Supplier contracts represent enormous opportunities for a wide variety of businesses owned by people of color and other marginalized groups and include things like construction, transportation, and business and legal services. Greenlining analyzed how much each company spent on Minority Business Enterprises (including African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Latino, and Native American-owned companies) and women-, LGBT- and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises. Overall, the utilities spent a combined $9.2 billion on businesses owned by people of color, a slight improvement over 2017.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Greenlining Institute Announces New Board Co-Chairs, Executive Committee

Founding Co-Chairs Ortensia Lopez and George Dean Step Down After 27 Years  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute is pleased to announce the election of new co-chairs and a new Executive Committee, as founding Co-Chairs Ortensia Lopez and George Dean step down after 27 years of service.

The new executive committee consists of:
Co-Chairs: Robert Apodaca and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk
Treasurer: Tate Hill III
Secretary: Noemi Gallardo
Member at large: Ortensia Lopez

“It has been an honor and a privilege to be a co-founding member of The Greenlining Institute and board co-chair for the past 27 years,” said Ortensia Lopez. “Having been in the nonprofit sector for over 45 years, co-founded organizations and served on many boards, I know that Greenlining has always been a respected icon that ensures that our communities thrive. Greenlining’s Leadership Academy continues to inspire as it trains and develops leaders who continue to work with, for and in our communities.”

This has been a year of momentous change for Greenlining. As co-chairs, Ortensia Lopez and George Dean entrusted Tunua Thrash-Ntuk and Robert Apodaca to head the Transition Committee that culminated in the selection of our new President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann.

“We are incredibly thankful and owe a debt of gratitude to our founding co-chairs George Dean and Ortensia Lopez, who have guided and supported the growth of this organization for the past 27 years,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “Their tireless commitment and investment in the organization and its staff cannot be underestimated. I look forward to working with the new Executive Committee as we continue to expand economic opportunities for communities of color.”

On behalf of Greenlining’s entire staff, Gore-Mann saluted Lopez and Dean for shepherding the organization to where it is today and building the leadership needed to further advance racial equity. “They built the organization and consistently invested in the next generation of leaders – who will now carry our mission forward,” she said.

More about Greenlining’s new co-chairs:

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk: Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is the Executive Director of Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation. She is a seasoned community and economic development practitioner with nearly two decades of experience in both nonprofit and private sectors. Her strengths range from community advocacy to asset and real estate development around neighborhood revitalization. She has already led a number of important urban initiatives throughout Los Angeles County focused on affordable housing, economic and commercial development, as well as transit-oriented projects. Tunua holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree from MIT.

Robert Apodaca: Robert J. Apodaca, Founder of ZeZeN Advisors, Inc., has a 45-year professional and civic career that spans both private and public sectors and several industries.  Following his service as Chairman and Trustee of Alameda County Retirement Board (pension fund), he joined the investment industry as a Senior Vice President & Partner of Kennedy Associates, an institutional investor for pension funds. New and retained accounts credited to his leadership included CalPERS, Chicago Transit Authority, San Diego County Retirement Board, Dallas Police & Fire, Kansas City Public Schools, NYC Fire Fighters and International Glass Molders. Apodaca has consistently devoted much time and energy to community service and serves on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute and the board, visit www.greenlining.org.

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Trump Administration Proposes Weakening Vital Anti-Redlining Law

Community Reinvestment Act Has Played Critical Role, Greenlining Institute Says

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today the Trump administration’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released a proposal for updating the Community Reinvestment Act, a landmark anti-redlining law first enacted in 1977. The Greenlining Institute urged a stronger, more specific focus on modern forms of redlining that continue to keep communities of color largely locked out of homeownership.

“The CRA has been a strong, and important tool to curb redlining and assure fair access to credit for all, but it needs to be modernized and strengthened,” said Greenlining Institute Senior Economic Equity Program Manager Rawan Elhalaby. “It appears that the Trump administration wants to move in the wrong direction and seeks to weaken this vital law. This would be a serious blow to communities of color, and especially women of color, who are already on the wrong side of the homeownership gap.”

Extensive research has found that the CRA did much to curb redlining, the now-banned practice of denying loans and investment in communities of color. But the Great Recession sent the homeownership gap between Blacks, Whites and nonwhite Hispanics back to pre-CRA levels. Reporting by the investigative news outlet Reveal has shown that lending discrimination, effectively a modern-day form of redlining, persists.

As stated in comments to the OCC last year, The Greenlining Institute and 54-member Greenlining Coalition believe that CRA needs an update, but changes should modernize and maintain the spirit of the law, reflecting persisting needs in low and moderate-income neighborhoods and communities of color as well as changes in our financial systems. Changes should not weaken the law by making it easier for banks to fulfill their CRA obligations. This appears to be the intent of Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who in the past has expressed hostility to the law.

Advocates and organizations representing communities that have been victims of financially discrimination are urged to contact The Greenlining Institute at rawane@greenlining.org to learn more about the fight for financial fairness.

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Greenlining Institute Urges Tougher CA Clean Truck Standards

Urges CARB to Take Steps to End “Diesel Death Zones”  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As the California Air Resources Board prepares for a public hearing on its proposed Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation, The Greenlining Institute is urging CARB to greatly strengthen its proposed rule.

“Too many California communities of color live in ‘diesel death zones,’ areas where pollution from heavy-duty trucks leads to high rates of cancer, asthma and heart disease,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Program manager Leslie Aguayo, who will be testifying at the hearing. “Zero-emissions trucks exist today for a variety of uses, and we need a faster transition in order to protect lives and health.”

In comments filed with the board, Greenlining calls CARB’s proposal to have four percent of California’s trucks be zero-emission by 2030 “insufficient,” and urges that the mandate be increased to 15 percent. Longer-term, Greenlining asks CARB to set a target date for when all trucks should be zero-emission, with specific dates for each class of trucks.

Greenlining also urges CARB to accelerate both the inclusion of Class 2b pickup trucks (trucks with a GVWR of 8,501 to 10,000 pounds) and the adoption of fleet purchase requirements.

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Comments: California Air Resources Board Must Adopt a Stronger Advanced Clean Truck Rule

The California Air Resources Board Must Adopt a Stronger Advanced Clean Truck Rule

Greenlining supports a stronger Advanced Clean Truck rule standard. As it stands, the ACT proposal would result in zero-emission trucks comprising four percent of California’s trucks by 2030; this is an insufficient standard and will fail to address the imminent, severe climate and public health consequences our state faces. We urge the California Air Resources Board to strengthen its proposal through the following mandates:

  1. Increasing the overall mandates to ensure that by 2030 no less than 15 percent of medium and heavy-duty trucks on the road are zero-emitting.
  2. Including Class 2b pickup trucks in the mandates beginning in 2024.
  3. Outlining CARB's longer-term objectives for achieving 100 percent zero-emission trucks in various categories, and explaining how this phase of the rule is consistent with those objectives in attaining federal and state air quality and greenhouse gas objectives.
  4. Committing to adopt corresponding fleet purchase requirements in 2021.

Los Angeles bids to bridge the EV divide

E&E News
By David Iaconangelo and David Ferris

LOS ANGELES — This city is trying to turn electric vehicles — often derided as playthings of the rich — into transportation for the masses.

At street corners and curbsides in Los Angeles’ lower-income neighborhoods, members of an electric car-sharing service called BlueLA can unlock and drive off in a utilitarian Bluecar.

The mission of these cars is fundamentally different, and so are the cars themselves. The interior is more like a no-frills U-Haul than the latest Tesla model. To take off from a standstill, the accelerator has to be mashed to the floor. There’s no “park” gear. There’s only the brake.

Partly funded with grant money from California’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, BlueLA launched in spring 2018. It’s the largest pilot of its kind in the nation, and it’s intended to be cheaper than Uber and more flexible than public transit.

These little motor pods also signal a seismic but little noticed trend in electrification. Starting in California and spreading around the country, they are a rickety sort of magic bullet: a bet that electrifying cars can clean the air in poor urban communities while solving some of the transportation problems that keep poor people poor.

Many of its riders are millennials of color who live in gentrifying but still working-class immigrant or black neighborhoods that ring LA’s downtown. Half come from households with incomes low enough to qualify for reduced rates.

With the cost of producing electric cars falling and the rapid scale-up of the EV market coming, advocates from environmental and public health groups to faith-based organizations are taking up the mantle of electric transportation. They’ve urged state officials across the country to invest in electric buses and car shares for impoverished, asthma-plagued communities.

“It’s still so new outside of California,” said Alvaro Sanchez, environmental equity director at the Oakland-based Greenlining Institute. “But you’re starting to see groups come to vehicle electrification for justice and equity.”

Low-income riders

BlueLA’s private-sector patron, France-based Bolloré, has made a $10 million bet on the first five-year phase, with the option of renewing for another half decade. The California Air Resources Board contributed $1.6 million, and city agencies chipped in about $2.8 million.

Bolloré, known in Europe mainly as an energy logistics company, operates five other car-share programs in the United States and abroad, though none aim to attract low-income users.

The special “community” rates for low-income riders — which include a $9 package for three hours — can compare favorably with a $7 day pass for the Metro. Those members also use the service more often, accounting for almost 60% of the rides taken.

That’s a sign of success for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, which won the state’s competition to host a car-share pilot and recruited Bolloré to run the service. The initial 40 chargers and 100 cars slated for BlueLA’s first phase will keep growing with a second grant disbursement from CARB.

The program raises many questions, for LA and other communities experimenting with low-income electric transportation. Can this program, or others like it, be lucrative enough to keep a company like Bolloré interested for the long run? Can it cover the high cost of maintaining vehicles that are heavily used and abused, while keeping costs low enough for its low-income riders?

City officials aren’t sure.

“I think the jury’s out,” said Marcel Porras, chief sustainability officer at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. “Is this something that is viable? And in the case that it isn’t, what kinds of lessons can we take from it?”

The pilot comes to LA as the city reconsiders its one-person, one-car transportation model that clogs the freeways. Downtown, its sidewalks are littered with scooters and bike shares. Ballot measures have guaranteed $120 billion in public funds over the next 40 years for new bus and Metro lines.

BlueLA’s creators see a use case that falls between the cracks of public transit: short trips that involve lugging groceries or children, or job interviews and doctor’s appointments where punctuality is of the essence. These could help solve barriers to health care and services that have dogged the poor zones of cities for generations.

Growing pains

On a late October evening, 32-year-old Caty Barrera spoke to an E&E News reporter in the blue glare of a charger station just west of downtown, occasionally admonishing her cocker spaniel puppy, Led Zeppelin, for treading on her foot.

An administrative assistant for an autism therapist, Barrera had signed up months ago for the mile-long drive home from a downtown Petco, where she would toss a 50-pound bag of dog food into the back seat and head back to her apartment in Westlake.

Now she was a lapsed member. “They’re not clean. It’s the reason I stopped using it,” she said.

That complaint was echoed by several other members and even one employee of BlueLA, who expressed exasperation at finding graffiti on charger stations, as well as trash, bad smells and even needles in the cars.

But Barrera and others also defended the idea of a car share for neighborhoods where many people can’t afford cars or pricey ride-hailing services.

A few described the Bluecars as having a rickety charm.

“It reminds me of [the video game] ‘Mario Kart,’” said Tyler Collins, a 33-year-old resident of Boyle Heights and aide at a special-needs school. “If you hit a turn too hard, it shakes, like you’re hitting a banana peel.”

Designed by Italy-based Pininfarina SpA and manufactured by Renault, it has a lithium-metal polymer battery. It’s cobalt-free and probably won’t catch fire, but it also isn’t designed to go farther than 90 to 100 miles on a charge.

The pilot takes inspiration from a car share that launched over a decade ago in Buffalo, N.Y., where executives were surprised to find that half of their riders were from households that earned $25,000 a year or less. After six years in operation, its insurer dropped them from their coverage. Zipcar bought it and refashioned it for more affluent riders.

By then, California had passed a landmark law, S.B. 1275, that laid out a new target of placing 1 million electric cars in operation and directed air regulators to create new programs that would popularize EVs across lines of class, race and region. One type of program, specified in the law, would use cap-and-trade proceeds for car shares in disadvantaged areas.

A coalition of nongovernmental organizations that led work on that law, known as Charge Ahead California, introduced mayor’s office staff to a former executive at Buffalo Carshare, Creighton Randall.

Randall and Garcetti’s office drafted the outlines of the program for CARB. The plan promised to “bring carsharing services within walking distance of hundreds of thousands of Los Angelenos” and increase public awareness of EVs.

They also met with community advocates from LA neighborhoods, who were initially suspicious that it would increase upward pressure on rent. “They would ask, ‘How is this not going to be a form of gentrification?’” recalled Randall. “And I would say, ‘That’s why I need you at the table, to help us figure that out.’”

A ‘viable model’

Advocates knocked on doors and held workshops at libraries and schools, informing parents, shop owners and principals about the program and asking for input on how to best tailor it.

There was a lot of curiosity among the largely Central American locals, said Jocelyn Duarte, interim executive director at the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF). “A lot of people said, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of [electric cars], but I didn’t think they were for me.’”

For older generations, at least, BlueLA may not have made much progress. Almost none of the more than a dozen users interviewed by E&E News at two BlueLA hubs was over 40 years old. One employee at an advocacy group acknowledged that they had found it hard to appeal to immigrants in their area.

The presentation of the charging hubs might be one reason. The screen on one station at Sixth and Bixel, an area with a large Central American population, was in English. Its Spanish translation would appear only by tapping a small Spanish flag, not a Guatemalan or Honduran one.

Randall, now a consultant on BlueLA, has built his consultancy business on the bet that low-income car shares can be profitable.

Buffalo Carshare’s eventual decline as a low-income service, he said, owed to a quirk in New York state laws that makes insurers liable for medical expenses even in accidents caused by the other driver.

“This is absolutely a viable model,” he said of car-sharing programs.

Bolloré made a “flagship investment” in the BlueLA program, Randall said. “Los Angeles is an important, high-profile market. I think that’s a big part of the motivation for this.

“It’s very capital-intensive,” he went on. “And more so than other forms of shared mobility, it’s taken time to build stations out. But these are highly visible, on-street hubs, and utilization has grown quicker than anticipated.”

Bolloré and its energy-storage subsidiary Blue Solutions did not respond to a request for more information about the LA program and its business plans.

The pilot may not seem like an obvious moneymaker. In Europe, where Bolloré is based, most car-share users are “millennials with an above-average income,” said Mario Franjicevic, principal analyst for future mobility at consultancy IHS Markit. “Even with that, it is not the most profitable business.”

Randall of Buffalo Carshare estimated that the Bluecars would reach the end of their useful lives every two to three years, given the levels of use. But even if the program turned out to be a loss for Bolloré and the company abandoned the partnership after the first five years, he said, the city would probably rebid the contract for the program.

“Every indication I’ve had is that the city’s committed,” Randall said.

‘Democratizing’ electric cars

Car shares for the low-income remain a novelty even in California, where energy policy has come to be steeped in the ethos of environmental justice.

The story of California’s conversion to that cause might begin with Proposition 187, the hard-line anti-illegal immigration ballot measure passed in 1994 that ignited political participation among Latinos.

Two decades later, LA-area state Sen. Kevin de León (D) became the modern era’s first Latino president of a chamber that had swung definitively Democratic.

“I can say this without any hesitation: If it were not for Prop 187, most of us would never have thought about running for office,” wrote de León this month in a Sacramento Bee editorial.

De León, now a candidate for an LA City Council seat and a policymaker-in-residence at UCLA, was part of a cohort of Latino progressives who transformed the state’s energy policies, refocusing environmentalism on the effects of pollution on impoverished areas.

One 2012 law sponsored by de León, S.B. 535, required 25% of the state’s cap-and-trade funds to benefit communities deemed “disadvantaged.” Another proviso had a profound ripple effect. The bill assigned California EPA with inventing a formula for deciding who qualified.

The resulting tool, CalEnviroScreen, folds together socioeconomics, health outcomes, exposure to pollutants and other measures of vulnerability. Race was excluded for fear it would run afoul of state law, though most policymakers believe the remaining factors are a proxy.

In subsequent years, the 25% carve-out was amended to channel those funds into projects located directly in disadvantaged tracts, with an additional 10% of funds going to low-income areas.

Its influence now extends well beyond cap-and-trade money. Utilities and other private entities, like Volkswagen AG subsidiary Electrify America, have since won over regulators by featuring identical carve-outs in their plans to build EV chargers.

A second de León law, S.B. 1275, would later merge state ambitions for EV sales with the new focus on equity. By then, air regulators had begun putting aside hundreds of millions of dollars for low-income weatherization, solar and affordable housing close to public transit.

“There was a lot of focus on energy and on buildings, and not as much on transportation,” said Vien Truong, a former director of environmental equity at Greenlining and principal at consultancy Truong & Associates. “We wanted to make sure it became an issue people were paying more attention to.”

The eight-group coalition Charge Ahead California, made up of environmentalist, consumer advocacy and public health groups, began meeting in 2013 to discuss a legislative fix. They were trying to entwine two seemingly incompatible aims.

Their campaign had organized around the goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road. But they didn’t want to just sell more EVs. They had to get rid of the perception that EVs were “just toys for rich white guys,” said Max Baumhefner, senior attorney for the Natural Resource Defenses Council’s climate and clean energy program.

“We needed to democratize the EV market,” he said.

Advocates and residents in poor exurbs and urban areas, said Truong, told her they sometimes had trouble finding a reliable way to travel short distances, particularly if they were carrying groceries or children, or had to arrive somewhere punctually. “That was the genesis for car shares.”

The campaign drew up a list of ideas that would marry electric transportation with equity and handed it to the office of de León, who had already collaborated with member groups on previous laws.

Passed in 2014, S.B. 1275 required regulators to create new incentives and programs to buy used electric cars, or trade in gas cars for electrics, and called for zero-emission, car-sharing programs for disadvantaged areas.

“BlueLA is a direct manifestation of S.B. 1275,” said de León, the law’s sponsor.

It also codified the 1 million EV goal, which encompassed both new and used models.

“It’s always been my belief that we can’t meet our macro targets unless we democratize the benefits of our climate change policies,” said de León. “If you allow the marketplace to dictate, then working families will never be able to access those innovative products.”

California’s targets for emission reductions, he added, depended on policymakers’ success at getting the middle classes out of private vehicles.

“The way I look at it is, we’ve got to double down on these car-sharing programs,” he said. “We have no choice.”

Governor Signs Bill to Promote Supplier Diversity Across California’s Hospital Industry

AB 962 Requires Hospitals to Report Their Supplier Diversity Starting July 1, 2021

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)
Anthony Galace, Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director, 510-926-4009; 619-633-5185 (cell)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Over the weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 962, introduced by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) and coauthored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). This bill establishes California’s first-ever reporting requirement for hospitals’ contracting with businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, and LGBT individuals to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. This bill will shed light on the degree to which California’s $230 billion hospital sector contracts  with and outreaches to diverse businesses for various products and services.

“AB 962 is the embodiment of some of the values that are at the core of our state: transparency, economic opportunity, and diversity,” said Assemblymember Burke. “The signing of this measure furthers California’s storied history of promoting opportunity for the communities that comprise the backbone of our economy, and shows that we value diversity across all levels of this state, whether it is in the hospital industry, utility industry, or in the makeup of the legislature. Continuing this history of promoting diversity is crucial because when our diverse communities thrive, all Californians thrive.”

“AB 962 introduces a proven formula to increase diversity,” said Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director Anthony Galace. “Requiring hospitals to report their supplier diversity will lead to significant contracting opportunities for diverse businesses, which will directly benefit the populations and communities those businesses serve. We applaud Assemblymember Burke’s leadership on this important issue and look forward to working with hospitals across the state, and with OSHPD to ensure proper implementation of this bill.”

This bill, sponsored by The Greenlining Institute, is modeled on several successful supplier diversity programs overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Department of Insurance. After both programs were enacted, the number of contracts going to diverse businesses skyrocketed, and advocates credit the reporting and transparency requirements created by these programs. They anticipate similar results from AB 962

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

New Research: Moving off of gas in buildings can have significant benefits for low-income communities

Housing and energy experts say building electrification can be a transformative force, but policies must prioritize environmental and social justice communities 

Contact: Sage Welch, Principal at Sunstone Strategies, sage@sunstonestrategies.org, 615.715.6714

OAKLAND, CALIF. – As a wave of local governments move to kickstart a new era of cleaner, healthier all-electric homes and buildings, Equitable Building Electrification: A Framework for Powering Resilient Communities, produced in partnership between The Greenlining Institute and California’s Energy Efficiency for All coalition, highlights the benefits the move away from gas in buildings can have for low-income residents as long as policies are designed with communities at their center. 

More than 50 California cities have passed or are considering measures to accelerate all-electric buildings – moves that have been attacked by the gas industry on a number of fronts, including how they may impact low-income Californians. However, this new resource shows that through community-led, intentional policymaking, building electrification can actually help close the clean energy gap and lead to greater affordability for working families in California by putting environmental and social justice communities at the front of the line to access healthier, fossil fuel-free homes and high-quality local jobs that may come from greening the building sector.  

“The gas industry is working overtime to stoke fear around building electrification, and is specifically targeting low-income residents and communities of color with this message,” said Carmelita Miller, an author of the report and legal counsel for The Greenlining Institute. “We’re here to say that getting off of gas will have important benefits for these communities if policies are rolled out with a mission to improve the health and resilience of environmental and social justice communities.”

Data from Energy and Environmental Consulting (E3) shows gas rates rising steeply in California in coming years, as the cost to safely maintain the aging gas system rises following two major disasters and the demand for gas dries up as California moves forward with its clean electricity and climate targets. Those left on gas in coming decades could be looking at massive bill increases. 

“As gas costs increase and we learn more about the detrimental health and climate impacts of burning gas in our homes, we expect many Californians who can afford to will choose to get off gas on their own,” noted Isaac Sevier, co-author of the report and coordinator of California’s Energy Efficiency for All coalition. “Policies and support must focus on empowering entire communities who cannot afford new appliances or new homes to access all-electric housing – which is more affordable and will have long-term health benefits.” 

The framework notes that African Americans, Native Americans, immigrant communities of color, low-income communities, and others have long suffered systemic exclusion from housing and job opportunities and it urges electrification policies to address this inequity as the state seeks to transform its building stock.

“There’s no room for polluting gas in California’s future. We also can’t afford another market-based, trickle down clean energy initiative that doesn’t reach low-income people,” said Mad Stano, program director for the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “This framework explains how we can design building electrification policies with community resiliency at their core to help working families and communities of color be first in line to receive benefits and continue leading on climate solutions.”

 The framework offers five steps on how equitable electrification can be implemented: 

  • Assess community needs.
  • Establish community-led decision-making.
  • Develop metrics and a plan for tracking.
  • Ensure funding and program leveraging.
  • Improve outcomes.

“This framework makes it clear that through strategic, targeted and sufficient investment, we can make the transition to a clean energy future equitable,” said David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission. “This is exactly the kind of direction that California agencies and policymakers need as we explore how to cost-effectively reduce emissions from our buildings,  improve public health and increase the quality of life for all Californians – especially those struggling with affordability.”

The framework identifies building electrification as a potential boon for high-quality jobs and careers, including a just transition plan for those who currently depend on gas and other fossil fuels for their livelihood. The inherently local nature of work in the built environment means that, with the right policies and programs, electrification can produce strong careers in communities all across the state. In addition to ensuring that fossil fuel workers have access to good jobs, equitable electrification policies should include workforce development programs that create pathways for people with barriers to employment, so that they too can access good quality electrification jobs.  

“Ultimately, building electrification policies must be designed to improve people’s everyday lives,” said Sevier. “If we focus on people-centered policies, electrification can provide solutions to existing household problems – by providing jobs that can’t be exported, lowering bills, improving health, and making homes more comfortable. Community-led planning initiatives that put local needs at the center will be key.”

 San Joaquin Valley pilot serves as model

The framework emphasizes the importance of community-driven decision making in policy, noting  that community members are the experts on what challenges they face, and how policy can help address them.

The report holds up the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) San Joaquin Valley Disadvantaged Communities Pilot Project as an example of what community-driven policymaking means in practice. The program allowed communities that have never had access to gas infrastructure to work in partnership with an on-the-ground team to identify alternatives that would best suit residents, with a deep focus on long-term engagement and outreach.

Through a process that put community needs center stage, nine host communities were offered a variety of options to move from wood or propane as a heating and cooking source – to electric appliances powered by clean energy – all driven by community-led choices ensuring the result would benefit their daily lives.

“With building electrification policies being in their nascent, developmental phase, local and statewide decisionmakers and advocates have the opportunity to design these policies in a manner that will lift up communities in California that have previously been left behind,” added Miller. “That’s what was achieved in the San Joaquin Valley, and that’s what we want to replicate around the state.” 

Buildings are responsible for more than a quarter of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. To date 10 cities have passed local measures that incentivize all-electric new construction or place restrictions on gas in new buildings. The PUC has undertaken a proceeding to implement SB 1477, which creates incentives for clean heating technologies, and is looking at pathways to cut pollution from buildings using electrification. Under AB 3232, the California Energy Commission is currently studying the most cost-effective pathways to cut pollution from buildings by 40 percent by 2030.

The framework can be found on our website: http://bit.ly/ElectrifyCaNow

ABOUT THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE:

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. Because people of color will be the majority of our population by 2044, America will prosper only if communities of color prosper. The Greenlining Institute advances economic opportunity and empowerment for people of color through advocacy, community and coalition building, research, and leadership development.

ABOUT EEFA:

California’s Energy Efficiency for All coalition is committed to an equitable clean energy future and works to advance healthy, affordable energy solutions for underserved renters at the state, regional, and city levels, with a key focus on expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in frontline communities. To learn more about our state and national partnerships, visit energyefficiencyforall.org/states/california/

 

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining