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SB-624 Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act.(2021-2022)



Current Version: 06/21/21 - Amended Assembly Compare Versions information image


SB624:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  June 21, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 19, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 05, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 624


Introduced by Senator Hueso

February 18, 2021


An act to add Division 1.5 (commencing with Section 1000) to the Public Resources Code, relating to the environment.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 624, as amended, Hueso. Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act.
Existing law establishes the Natural Resources Agency, which consists of various departments, including the Department of Conservation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Parks and Recreation. Existing law vests in the Natural Resources Agency various powers, including those related to conservation of lands.
This bill would establish the Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act, which sets forth the state’s commitment to ensuring all Californians can benefit from, and have meaningful access to, the state’s rich cultural and natural resources. The bill would make related findings and declarations regarding the importance of the state’s natural resources and ensuring equal access to those resources. The bill would provide that the Legislature finds and declares that it is the policy of the state to, among other things, promote inclusivity and representation and improve competency, as specified, among staff of the agency and each department, board, office, conservancy, and commission within the agency, to ensure all Californians and visitors of the state feel safe and welcome in the outdoors. The bill would authorize the agency, and each department, board, office, conservancy, and commission within the agency, to take targeted actions, including those that prioritize communities of color, economically disadvantaged communities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, women, and individuals belonging to more than one of these groups, to reduce elevated barriers to access and increased exposure to environmental health risks that disproportionately impact these communities and people to ensure equitable environmental protection and outdoor access is achieved. The bill would require the agency to prepare a report and submit it to the Legislature with information related to the implementation of these provisions on or before January 1, 2024.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Division 1.5 (commencing with Section 1000) is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

DIVISION 1.5. Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act

CHAPTER  1. General Provisions

1000.
 This division shall be known, and may be cited, as the Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act, and sets forth the state’s commitment to ensuring all Californians can benefit from, and have meaningful access to, the state’s rich cultural and natural resources.

CHAPTER  2. Policy

1050.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California is home to some of the world’s most spectacular rivers, lakes, beaches, forests, mountain ranges, deserts, and other natural landscapes.
(b) The many unique plants, wildlife, and other species found in each of these distinct outdoor areas all contribute to the state’s rich and unparalleled biodiversity.
(c) California’s natural resources are a shared heritage that must be stewarded for future generations, and no single individual or entity is more entitled to access or benefit from public outdoor spaces than another.
(d) The Natural Resources Agency has made environmental justice and tribal consultation a priority by adopting both of the following:
(1) An environmental justice policy in 2003 that defines “environmental justice,” in accordance with Section 65040.12 of the Government Code, as the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
(2) A tribal consultation policy in 2012 to ensure effective government-to-government consultation between the Natural Resources Agency, departments of the Natural Resources Agency, and Native American tribes and tribal communities, to provide meaningful input into the development of regulations, rules, policies, programs, projects, plans, property decisions, and activities that may affect tribal communities.
(e) Countless Californians still face significant barriers to visiting and enjoying the state’s natural resources and outdoor spaces, including, but not limited to, all the following:
(1) Lack of safe, reliable, and affordable routes to outdoor spaces, including transportation and pathways accessible for people with disabilities, to local, regional, state, and federal parks and beaches, and other public lands and outdoor spaces.
(2) Cost of admission, parking, and overnight accommodations at or near state parks, beaches, and other public lands and outdoor spaces.
(3) Lack of accessible public information and exposure to the outdoors necessary to ensure familiarity and comfort with being in these spaces.
(4) Lack of culturally relevant and multilingual programming.
(5) Cost of outdoor recreation equipment.
(6) Lack of local, quality outdoor spaces and amenities, including parks, pedestrian tree canopies, green streets, greenways, trails, community gardens, and other greenspaces.
(7) Lack of outdoor programming opportunities, including, but not limited to, recreational, cultural, and educational activities.
(8) Lack of diversity among staff at all levels of the Natural Resources Agency and each department, board, conservancy, and commission within the agency.
(9) Lack of job training and career pathway opportunities for employment at the Natural Resources Agency, and each department, board, conservancy, and commission within the agency, that allow for upward mobility within the agency.
(10) Need for additional competency training around cultural, racial, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality and other implicit biases among staff employed at local, regional, and state parks, beaches, and other outdoor spaces, that interface with the public.
(f) There is also a substantial lack of representation to reflect the The actual diversity of California and its residents. residents is not well reflected among outdoor users.
(g) The Legislature acknowledges that barriers to access and lack of representation of California’s diversity in the outdoor space and sector are a result of years of environmental racism and the marginalization of low-income communities. Practices such as redlining, forced migration, and economic segregation have left lasting impacts on communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities. These communities face the brunt of environmental impacts, and receive little, if any, of the benefits from the activities that caused them.
(h) Recognizing the systemic disadvantages that some people and communities face, the Legislature further acknowledges that achieving environmental equity and promoting equitable access necessitates targeted attention to, and prioritization for, demographics that have been left with the least access to the state’s natural resources and most vulnerable to environmental harms.
(i) The Legislature further recognizes that ensuring that every Californian can access and connect with the state’s prized natural resources is essential to cultivating the appreciation and respect for nature that is necessary to instill environmental stewardship and support overall state conservation, biodiversity protection, and climate goals.

1051.
 (a) The Legislature further finds and declares that it is the policy of the state to:
(1) Ensure all people of the state have access to natural resources and recreation opportunities, with special emphasis provided to creating and promoting access to those people and communities who face disproportionate barriers to access.
(2) Prevent and minimize the intentional and unwarranted limitation of public access to public lands, including, but not limited to, local, regional, state, and federal parks, rivers, lakes, beaches, forests, mountain ranges, deserts, and other natural landscapes.
(3) Ensure all people of the state have equal protection from environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change, with special emphasis provided to those people and communities who face elevated risks and exposures to environmental harms and climate impacts in order to eliminate those disproportionate impacts.
(4) Promote inclusivity and representation of marginalized groups to improve competency around cultural, racial, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality, and other implicit biases among staff of the Natural Resources Agency and each department, board, office, conservancy, and commission within the agency, to ensure all Californians and visitors of the state feel safe and welcome in the outdoors.
(b) In implementing this section, the Natural Resources Agency, and each department, board, office, conservancy, and commission within the agency, may take targeted actions, including those that prioritize communities of color, economically disadvantaged communities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, women, and individuals belonging to more than one of these groups, to reduce elevated barriers to access and increased exposure to environmental health risks that disproportionately impact these communities and people to ensure equitable environmental protection and outdoor access is achieved.
(c) (1) On or before January 1, 2024, the Natural Resources Agency shall prepare a report and submit it to the Legislature with information related to the implementation of this division.
(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(3) The requirement for submitting a report imposed under paragraph (1) is inoperative on January 1, 2026, pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code.