Climate change threatens the very systems on which human life depends – our water, food, shelter, and security. When it comes to transportation, people who ride public transit move more. BARHII works to incorporate principles of health equity into land use and transportation planning and actively focuses on adaptation planning for the Bay Area.
Given today’s major natural disasters and increasing future risks that Bay Area residents are facing, the ability to just withstand urgent shocks is insufficient. Resilience is a need and an opportunity to improve community well being and reverse long-standing health inequities, particularly across race and income groups. Actions to reduce poverty, homelessness, income disparities, and health inequities in low-income communities of color are central to resilience action.
The purpose of Adapting to Rising Tides is to understand how climate change and other natural disasters intersect with ongoing community challenges and to discuss the potential strategies and investments that will increase the physical, economic, and social resilience of neighborhoods. This effort will focus on East Contra Costa and East Palo Alto as two places where in-depth engagement can contribute to creative solutions to increase resilience. This community-public agencies collaboration will contribute to the existing wealth of knowledge and expertise of BCDC and will provide parameters for thoughtful engagement in other communities around the Bay.
Overall, this collaboration includes the co-design of a community engagement process with the support of BARHII, public health departments, BCDC, and BARC. Community organizations, including Ensuring Opportunity in East Contra Costa and Nuestra Casa and YUCA in East Palo Alto, will be framing the resilience issues and possibilities. The process and final product will be a collective design led by community organizations. Public agencies will provide existing information on risk assessment, health indicators, and case studies as well as support on workshops and communication logistics.
BARHII participated in the overall public planning process and secured seats on the Policy Advisory Council to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) as well as several other SCS planning groups (Regional Equity Working Group , Ad Hoc Committee on SCS/RTP Performance Targets and Indicators, SCS Housing Methodology Committee, and the MTC Project Performance Assessment Technical Group). These work groups allow ongoing opportunities for BARHII members to provide guidance on how the process and decisions impact issues of health inequities in the region.
Along with other key health, social, and environmental justice allies, many health equity successes have been adopted into the planning process. Key partners include Urban Habitat, Public Advocates, the American Lung Association (ALA), and Regional Asthma Management Program (RAMP), and the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network. Examples of health equity gains include: adoption of ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets; performance targets aimed at increasing physical activity, improving air quality in the most impacted communities, and reducing the cost of combined transportation and housing costs; the requirement that all projects considered for the final plan undergo an equity analysis prior to inclusion; One Bay Area Grant Program, a grant package incentivizing local communities to increase their affordable housing production and develop more walkable and bikeable communities; the inclusion of an equity-maximizing scenario for study in the plan’s Environmental Impact Report; and the commitment to prioritize the region’s spending priorities for future Cap and Trade revenues for supporting benefits to disadvantaged communities and to adopt a “comprehensive strategy” with a focus on local transit operating support.
Beginning in December 2012 BARHII has expanded its climate change work to efforts focusing on adaptation planning for the Bay Area. BARHII has helped convene several gatherings of local health department representatives and is partnering with the Joint Policy Committee (JPC), the PHI Center for Climate Change, and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity to develop a regional effort to prepare our region’s infrastructure, develop local health department capacity, and build the resiliency of our communities to respond to climate change impacts.