EJ-1 Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice

Gov. Code §65040.12 defines Environmental Justice (EJ) 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.” Planning decisions and actions related to land use practices, density and intensity of uses can have a significant impact on health and environmental justice and influence equity outcomes in various communities. 

In 2016, the State of California became of the first states in the country to pass the law, Senate Bill 1000 (SB 1000) to codify environmental justice through planning process and efforts. According to the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), SB 1000 intends to “integrate EJ principles into the planning process and improve public participation.” The Bill establishes requirements for cities and counties to adopt policies in their General Plan that address environmental justice disparities, particularly in disadvantaged communities. To help identify disadvantaged communities within a city or a county, CalEPA developed an online Global Info Systems (GIS) data tool called CalEnviroScreen. The CalEnviroScreen analyzes data on environmental hazards and exposures, public health factors, and socioeconomic issues to create numerical scores for every census tract in the state of California. The highest scores identify communities that are most disadvantaged. The tool comprises of 4 components that it uses to score: 1) Pollution Burden – Exposures, 2) Pollution Burden – Environmental Effects, 3) Population Characteristics – Sensitive Populations, and 4) Population Characteristics – Socioeconomic Factors. The CalEnviroScreen data can be used to identify communities that have been disproportionately impacted by, or vulnerable to, environmental pollution and contaminants. CalEPA defines disadvantaged communities as those communities with the CalEnviroScreen scores at or above the 75th percentile (or the top 25% highest scoring census tracts). 

The City of Menifee utilized the CalEnviroScreen 3.0 to identify disadvantaged communities within the City. At the time of the search (February 2021), Menifee’s CalEnviroScreen scores were below the 75th percentile and therefore, the results did not show any disadvantaged communities in Menifee (CalEnviroScreen 3.0). 

Although the CalEnviroScreen 3.0 did not identify any disadvantaged communities within the City of Menifee, the City still values the health and well-being of our communities and aims to improve overall public health, increase fairness and equity, as well as lessen the imbalanced and/or disproportionate environmental burdens throughout our city through Environmental Justice Goals and Policies.

Goal

  • EJ-1: Reduced Rates of Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Chronic Disease Such as Heart Disease and Breast Cancer. Improve individual and community health through prevention, screening, education, and treatment strategies regarding nutrition and physical activity related health issues.

Policies

  • EJ-1.1: Support neighborhood-oriented, specific sources of healthful foods, such as farmers’ markets and local outlets. Support food banks, pantries, and other sources that help provide federal food assistance to low-income residents so that all families, seniors, schools, and community-based organizations are able to access, purchase, and increase intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods.
  • EJ-1.2: Support community education programs on healthy eating habits and lifestyles, including topics such as nutrition, physical activity, and vegetable gardening.
  • EJ-1.3: Collaborate with the Riverside County Department of Public Health, Menifee Global Medical Center and other non-profit health sector groups to encourage existing neighborhood markets or convenience stores in nutrition deficient neighborhoods to sell fresh fruits and vegetables.