Fewer trees, more asthma. How Sacramento can improve its canopy and public health

By the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board
October 15, 2019
The Sacramento Bee

We often plant trees as a symbolic gesture. We plant them on Earth Day in honor of clean air and sustainability. We also plant trees to commemorate people and events.
But trees do more than provide shade and improve landscapes. They are also critical to public health.
In Sacramento, which the American Lung Association named fifth worst U.S. city for air quality and where temperatures increasingly reach triple-digit highs, we must take the importance of trees seriously.

https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article236197713.html

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Placer County Sustainability Plan Comments

On September 05, 2019, ECOS and 350 Sacramento wrote a comment letter to the Placer County Community Development Resources Agency in regards to the Placer County Sustainability Plan.

Below are a couple of excerpts from the letter, click the link below to read the full letter.

We encourage all efforts to expedite the transition to a carbon-free economy and are gratified by the County’s aspiration to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We offer these comments in the hope they will help the County reach that goal.

It is evident from the draft Plan’s strong monitoring and update commitments that it is meant to be a “living” document, subject to ongoing community dialogue and further refinement. We look forward to working with the County to advance the Plan’s important role in mitigating climate change.

Click here to view the comment letter in full.

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Reminder to City to follow State Law on Surplus Land

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA) have sent out letters to City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as well as the Facilities & Real Property Superintendent Richard Sanders (at the Department of Public Works). These are to remind the City of Sacramento to follow the Surplus Land Statute.

In the letter to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA) write:

We are prompted to offer this reminder of the Surplus Land Act because of concerning trends in the sale of city properties. Reviewing recent sales of seven city owned lots, only one was sold to an affordable housing non-profit (City of Refuge, who plans to build a homeless shelter for women and children on the land). The other six were sold to for-profit entities. Most alarming is the case of 4722 9th Ave and 4601-4625 10th Ave, where the city rejected a proposal to build 130-195 affordable rental units in favor of market rate apartments.

We are requesting city officials be particularly mindful of a few key provisions in the Surplus Land Statute.

1. Prioritize proposals that make at least 25% of the housing units affordable to low income households.

2. Give priority to the proposal with the most affordable units at the most affordable level.

3. Enforce the inclusionary requirement tied to the sale or lease of surplus land.

4. The City of Sacramento can sell or lease the land at a discount to affordable housing developers.

Click here to view the full letter to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and the four key provisions in the Surplus Land Statute.

In the letter to Superintendent Richard Sanders, The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA) write:

The City has a real opportunity to lead on this important issue and we urge you to do so. For example, the City could serve as a clearinghouse for public surplus lands available in the city, including parcels controlled by other public agencies (local utilities, Regional Transit, RASA, etc.). Having a centralized location to get information about all public sites would support getting the most public benefit from the use of these sites and facilitate access to critical information to affordable housing developers and the public.

In summary, the Sacramento Housing Alliance and the Environmental Council of Sacramento specifically request [that] the City:

1. Establish specific policies and procedures to:

• Provide clear, consistent standards for evaluating the potential of publicly owned sites for disposition.
• Provide timely notice to public agencies and interested parties that a surplus site is available.
• Prioritize proposals for use of surplus properties that commit to making at least 25% of the housing units affordable to low income households.
• Prioritize proposals with the greatest number of affordable units at the most affordable price or rent.
• Ensure surplus property developed with 10 or more residential units include at least 15% of the units as affordable to lower income households.

2. Play a leadership role in maximizing the use of public surplus properties for affordable housing purposes by establishing a clearinghouse of sites available from all public agencies within the City including Regional Transit, public utilities, and RASA. In addition, the City should ensure all public agencies understand the law and their responsibilities regarding the use of public surplus property for affordable housing.

3. Evaluate establishing a phasing policy to maximize the potential reuse of surplus properties for affordable housing purposes.

4. Engage in a robust and transparent public process to establish such policies.

5. Encourage the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to establish a policy, similar to one adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area, that incentivizes local governments using surplus public property for affordable housing purposes.

Click here to view the full letter to Facilities & Real Property Superintendent Richard Sanders.

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