Department of Pesticide Regulation finalizes on rules for application near schools

After almost a year of deliberation, the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) new rule prohibits pesticides from being applied within a quarter mile of schools and daycares on school days. Overall advocates are pleased with the new ruling because it provided protections to schoolchildren who were vulnerable to exposure from pesticide application in agriculture hubs near schools. The National Partnership submitted a comment letter last winter with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and took special note on how exposure has impacted low-income and Latino students in Coachella Valley area schools. In our letter, we also called for a 1-mile buffer to protect kids walking and biking to school. The final ruling falls short in that it fails to address low-dose daily exposure and pesticide drift for kids who walk to and from school.The ruling also fails to address how racial disparities impacts of Latino students in particular due to poor land use planning of agricultural farming, lack of affordable housing and how environmental racism plays out near many low-income communities like the Eastern Coachella Valley and other communities throughout California. In fact, Californians for Pesticide Reform reported that Latino schoolchildren in California twice as likely to attend the most toxic impacted schools as their white peers. Read more in the Pesticide Action’s network press release and the official ruling for the DPR.

California Leaders Making Moves

Congratulations to two of our partners (and former National Partnership California Senior Policy Managers) who made big professional moves this month: Jeanie Ward-Waller, Policy Director of CalBike, will be leading the Sustainability Program at CalTrans, and Chanell Fletcher will be the Director at ClimatePlan after serving as Associate Director since January 2016. Jeanie and Chanell have been tireless and effective advocates for equitable active transportation in California for many years, and we’re proud to have had them in our ranks. ClimatePlan and CalTrans will benefit enormously from their leadership, and we look forward to working with them in their new roles.

State Legislation Progresses

We are tracking progress on several pieces of state legislation:

  • We are pleased at the passage of AB 390 (Santiago), which amends traffic law to clarify that pedestrians may enter an intersection and cross during a flashing countdown signal as long as they reach the other end of the intersection before the hand or “Don’t Walk” signal goes steady. This bill marks a big shift towards decriminalizing walking in the state and ending the regressive enforcement of perfectly safe pedestrian crossings, which disproportionately affects the poor and communities of color. We urge Governor Brown to sign it.
  • The Governor, Assembly, and Senate have come to an agreement on this year’s allocation of the 40 percent of Cap and Trade proceeds subject to annual budget negotiation. We were disappointed, but not surprised, that the Active Transportation Program was not included; decision makers in Sacramento had made clear that they believe the ATP was “taken care of” through the additional $100M/year provided by SB1. We were also disappointed that there was no funding for free or discounted transit passes for students. We do applaud the inclusion of $20 million for Urban Forestry, which is a key tool for making cycling and walking in urban areas more comfortable and safer.

National Partnership staff is in Sacramento for a two-day campaign planning and spokesperson training for SB 760, which would reform CalTrans’ State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) to ensure that when state highways in urban areas—which in many cases are also local streets and roads—are repaired, rebuilt, or redesigned, the safety of everyone who uses the street is considered, from design to completed project. We will be coordinating with allies across the state to ensure passage of the bill in the State Senate in January, after which we will dedicate the rest of the legislative session to pushing it through the Assembly.

Dozens of New Active Transportation Projects Funded

Earlier this year, the SB1 transportation bill included an extra $100 million each year for the Active Transportation Program. And those funds are already making their way to communities in need: 54 cities and counties have been newly funded. In this augmentation cycle, Caltrans reconsidered applications from the 2017 cycle, and were able to fund projects that scored a 79 or higher (the prior cut-off was 89). This serves as yet more proof that there is no shortage of worthy active transportation projects throughout the state; it’s only a question of finding enough resources to fund them all. While we are grateful for the additional money made available by SB 1, we will continue to advocate for more funding in future cycles, which will be necessary for the state to achieve its goal of doubling the rate of walking and tripling the rate of cycling.

Lessons Learned at the 2017 Orange County Active Transportation Forum

Held on September 22, the 2017 Orange County Active Transportation Forum was a great success! Now in its sixth year running, the theme of this year’s forum was The Intersection of Housing and Transit—highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration to support growth of active transportation and sustainable, healthy, and equitable communities across Orange County.

The day started off with a keynote address given by Charles “Chuck” Marohn, Founder and President of Strong Towns. His presentation examined different approaches to thinking critically about development and financial resilience in how we plan our cities. He concluded by highlighting differences between the values of engineers and the public in how they prioritize what is important in street design (see image below). The big takeaway being that it is crucial that public stakeholders ensure their voices are heard in how we plan for safer and more active transportation solutions in Orange County. Check out more coverage and a recap of Chuck’s time spent in Santa Ana here and here.

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Four group panel sessions throughout the day opened up conversations about a range of topics, including: The Intersection of Transit and Housing Affordability, The Digital Revolution, A Tale of Three Cities in Central Orange County, Advocacy, Education, & Political Leadership in Orange County. The innovative moderators and panelists provided great insight into planning and policy issues around active transportation and sustainable community planning in Orange County and how to collaborate to address them moving forward.

There were also opportunities to learn about and explore resources and efforts up close through the Innovations Showcase and Solutions and Engagement Sessions. The National Partnership presented on its work leading the Orange County Active Transportation Network and developing the Orange County Active Transportation Vision.

A huge thanks to the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County for organizing the forum and to all groups, agencies, and individuals that participated.

Warehouses vs. Safety of School Children: Conflicts in Bloomington

San Bernardino County’s Bloomington residents and local advocates have packed recent School Board meetings over concerns regarding a logistics industry development project near two elementary schools. A 680,000 square foot warehouse project was recently approved by San Bernardino County’s Planning Commission and it is scheduled to be developed within 700 feet of Walter Zimmerman and Crestmore Elementary schools. The development of warehouses near schools concerns us for two major reasons. First, children exposed to particulates from freight truck exhaust (especially while trucks may be idle) experience higher risks of health problems such as asthma and weaker lungs. Second, children walking and biking to school will be at significant risk given high volumes of truck traffic going in and out of the warehouses.  

The Partnership has been working with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) to provide public testimony to the school board and the San Bernardino County planning commission. Public testimony from advocates and community members have included an action calling on the board to adopt a school board resolution. Efforts against the development of warehouse projects near schools was also opposed by Senator Connie Leyva, as her staff representative provided testimony on her behalf. The resolution would serve as an acknowledgement of air quality environmental hazards and traffic safety concerns of freight trucks routed near schools and encourage agencies to work together address concerns.

Two school board meetings on August 3rd and 17th have yet to result in any board action on the resolution. The board might feel pressure to react as the story has now received local and regional attention.

Bloomington area schools lacks a safe routes to school plan or any such programming that could help ensure the safety of children walking to and from school. Currently, San Bernardino County is working on a Countywide SRTS Plan that includes two Bloomington schools but are not either Zimmerman or Crestmore schools. We look forward to continuing to work with CCAEJ, community members and allies to strategize on uplifting policies to ensure the safety of schoolchildren and the health and well-being of all residents.  

 

Concerned parent testifies about her son’s safety.IMG_4516

IMG_4365Packed room for public testimony on Bloomington area schools at the August meeting of the Colton Unified School Board Meeting.

 

 

Asking the Bay Area to Do Better on Active Transportation

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) unanimously approved adjustments to Plan Bay Area 2040 and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) at a joint meeting on Wednesday, July 26. Plan Bay Area 2040 is a long-range plan to guide transportation investment and land-use decisions through 2040, while accommodating future population growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with SB 375. The National Partnership believes in strong planning efforts to address the health, safety, and climate goals of the region and are pleased that MTC and ABAG have committed to reducing by 10 percent the adverse health impacts associated with air quality, road safety, and physical activity. However, the adopted plan falls far short, with only a very small reduction of 1%. In a comment letter, the National Partnership recommends MTC and ABAG take stronger steps to create a healthier and more active Bay Area by hiring additional planning staff, devoting more resources to improving active transportation data, and increasing support for active transportation programming.

Join Us at the 2017 Orange County Active Transportation Forum

The Alliance for a Healthy Orange County is excited to host the 2017 Regional Active Transportation Forum on Friday, September 22. This year’s forum will focus on the intersection of active transportation and equitable development and how policy makers, active transportation advocates, and other partners can join forces to make Orange County communities smarter, equitable, healthier and sustainable for ALL. Please RSVP today!

Southern California Sets the Stage for Future Planning

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is beginning to gather information needed for the development of the 2020 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS).  The RTP/SCS is a long-term planning framework to coordinate regional transportation, climate, and land use issues. Advocates from non-governmental organizations such as the National Partnership play a role in providing input on specific issue areas that will help our region achieve better outcomes. For example, we along with our partners were able to quadruple the amount of funding allocated for active transportation in the 2016 RTP/SCS.  

 

As a first step, SCAG is creating a Local Input Survey, which will collect information from jurisdictions on current local plans, policies, and land use practices. The current draft has 64 questions and is currently being reviewed by SCAG’s Technical Working Group; we will be reviewing to ensure the survey will collect useful and actionable information on active transportation. The release of the Local Input Survey will be this fall.  We will be regularly updating you on the RTP/SCS in the coming two years.

Speaking Up in Support of Vision Zero Projects

As part of its Vision Zero effort, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has proposed a mile-long road diet on Venice Boulevard to calm traffic and improve safety for bicyclists.  A number of residents have organized a campaign to defeat the project due to concerns over loss of parking and increased traffic–including circulating a petition that got more than 2,000 signatures. Our staff has attended a neighborhood meeting, an LADOT town hall, and the Mar Vista Community Council to speak out in support of traffic calming and smart street design as a way to save lives.  At the Mar Vista Community Council meeting on July 11th, there was a nearly even split in attendees with 60 community members testifying in support and 54 speaking against the project. The council ultimately voted 9-2 to support the project and requesting more LADOT studies on the project’s impact on safety and traffic.
Misinformation among speakers at those events shows how much we all need to educate the public on the dangerous connections between fatalities and  high speeds. A particularly compelling argument is the statistic that if a pedestrian or bicyclist is hit by a car going 40mph, their survival rate is only 20%. We anticipate concerns like this will continue; if you want to help speak up please consider joining the LA Vision Zero Alliance.

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