Delivering on California’s clean transportation promises ~ California

As the dust settles across California for the 2022 election, let’s take stock of where we’ve made progress in tackling the state’s most persistent source of climate pollution — traffic; namely the cars and trucks that drive through our communities.

The state has made bold and necessary pledges to zero out gas-powered vehicles by committing to selling 100 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2035. But meeting our climate goals also means helping more Californians get around without having to use polluting vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which regulates climate pollution for the state, has determined that meeting our climate goals is imperative both clean vehicles and enabling more people to walk, bike and use public transport instead of driving.

And we must do it in a way that addresses long-standing environmental injustices and creates good-paying jobs. Highways and shipping continue to disproportionately burden communities with increasing pollution and direct displacement from homes and neighborhoods. With billions more dollars flowing into California for transportation through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we have no time to waste.

On these fronts, we made some tangible progress in 2022.

  • The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2147 (introduced by Assembly Member Phil Ting), known as the Freedom to Walk Act, a sensible reform of the traffic law that reduces the likelihood of walkers being fined for jaywalking violations, the People of Color affect disproportionately.
  • With Senate Bill 922 (by State Senator Scott Wiener), lawmakers streamlined green transportation projects such as B. Pure bicycle and bus lanes.
  • Legislatures passed bills to streamline infill housing and eliminate harmful parking requirements.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed $1.1 billion in new funding to the state’s Active Transportation Program, which funds local bicycle and walking projects. It was an important down payment towards a total investment requirement of $2 billion in local bike/pedal projects.
  • The governor continued to nominate climate and justice champions for the California Transportation Commission (CTC).
  • The CTC established a new Inter-Agency Advisory Board on Equity.
  • Voters rejected two grossly misguided mass transit ballot measures in Fresno and Sacramento counties, showing the public’s rejection of a highway-centric approach to mobility.

But in several other priority areas for reform, the legislature and governor have not emerged as of this writing.

  • Despite broad support from environmental, transportation and environmental justice groups, the governor vetoed AB 2438 (by Member Laura Friedman), which would have codified into state law the requirement to link our transportation investments to our climate goals.
  • The governor vetoed AB 1919 (by Assemblyman Chris Holden) to create a free transit pass program for youth.
  • Unfortunately, voters rejected Proposal 30, which would have spurred $100 billion in investments in electric vehicles and zero-emission transportation.
  • Legislators failed to pass two key bills to ensure communities benefit from our infrastructure investments: AB 1778 (by MP Cristina Garcia) would have banned the use of government funds and resources to construct or upgrade highways in communities that already are affected by environmental pollution and public health impacts; AB 2419 (by Assemblyman Isaac Bryan) would have required that at least 40 percent of federal infrastructure funds flowing into California from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act be prioritized in communities of color that have been overlooked or harmed by previous infrastructure decisions.

What will work look like in 2023 and beyond? In essence, it is about placing our financing priorities where our climate and share values ​​lie.

Despite some progress in aligning our transportation investments with our climate goals β€” through legislation like SB 375 and SB 743 β€” state and local governments continue to spend billions on harmful and counterproductive highway projects.

Bigger, wider highways create more air pollution without relieving congestion. We need the Legislature and the Governor to prioritize funding and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, connect communities and support healthy places. And we must also scale back and ultimately zero out investments that encourage more car driving, undermine our transit services and drive greater urban sprawl.

Here are some key actions that we hope to see next year:

  • Laws that embed the principles of Justice40 in our infrastructure investments.
  • Laws that put sustainable transport projects such as rail lines, electric bus fleets and bicycle networks at the forefront of prioritization and funding.
  • Legislation that builds on AB 1778 (Garcia) by protecting communities from the harmful effects of highways.
  • Government budget support for public transit companies still recovering ridership and on the verge of depleting key federal government COVID-19 aid funds, which could result in service cuts or higher fares. Investments are needed in operational funding, as well as driver- and equity-driven improvements that can help agencies restore and grow ridership, such as: B. Free fares for young people.
  • Maintaining budget support for active transportation investments needed to meet our climate goals and carry out community supported projects.

Such reforms, combined with our progress to date, will ensure that California remains at the forefront of equitable transportation and climate protection.