Climate Planning in Galt

On June 29, 2020, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Sierra Club Sacramento Group and 350 Sacramento submitted comments on three projects being planned for the City of Galt. Our comments focus on potential (Greenhouse Gas) GHG impacts.

Click the links below to view each letter.

Summer Days Often Feel Much Hotter If You Live In One Of California’s Historically Redlined Neighborhoods

May 26, 2020 | By Randol White | Capital Public Radio

California’s triple-digit heat is back — and new research shows residents in the state’s most underserved neighborhoods suffer the most when the mercury rises.

Portland State University’s heat-mapping project tapped volunteers last summer in four California metro areas to attach GPS-equipped temperature collection gadgets to their cars and drive along set routes for an hour in the morning, afternoon and evening. They drove through the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Victorville and Sacramento.

The research project was led by Vivek Shandas, a professor who believes this form of heat-data collection can help city planners solve decades-old problems.

“We’re trying to bring the understanding of climate change and the changes happening on a planetary scale down to the individual person and down to the individual city block,” Shandas said.

The data collected that day indicates the temperature differentials between neighborhoods can vary by as much as 20 degrees.

Wealthy, tree-canopied neighborhoods are typically cooler, and low-income, asphalt-heavy communities run hotter.

Click here to read the full article.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

Putting Vehicle Miles Traveled Guidelines Into Action

On May 26, 2020 the Environmental Council of Sacramento joined a large coalition of organizations in sending a letter to the Governor of California urging our state to move forward in implementing the Vehicle Miles Traveled guidelines for transportation impact analysis per Senate Bill 743 (2013).

We, the undersigned organizations, are grateful for the decisive actions you’ve taken to protect Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 and know that difficult choices will need to be made. We are aware that there are requests from some parties to postpone the implementation of SB 743 (2013); we urge you to not further delay the implementation of this very important statute.

COVID-19 has created an economic crisis for California, and the magnitude of the challenges ahead for our state’s recovery are immense, but postponing implementation of SB 743 would be a mistake. Rather, expeditious implementation of SB 743 is now all the more important to ensure a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient future for California.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker via Pxhere

City Announces Temporary Ban On Residential Tenant Evictions

The Sacramento City Council adopted an ordinance on March 17 to establish a temporary ban on evicting residential tenants unable to pay rent due to a loss of income caused by the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

“It is vital for us to protect residential tenants during this tenuous time,” said Assistant City Manager Michael Jasso. “This ordinance is part of the City’s efforts to address the financial impacts of the disease on renters locally, the population most at-risk of swift housing displacement.”

Click here to view the article on the City of Sacramento’s website.

Why is this an environmental issue? People need to have the option to live near their jobs and other every day destinations. This means making sure there are enough affordable, quality residences in the urban core of Sacramento, even in the face of a pandemic. If people who work downtown cannot afford to live downtown, we are not going to meet our region’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. To do our part as a city, Sacramento must find ways to reduce the need for workers to commute every day.

Requesting Sacramento County Greenhouse Gas Report

General Plan Annual Report: GHG Measures

On February 20, 2020, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, 350 Sacramento and the Sierra Club Sacramento Group submitted a request to the County of Sacramento for a report on greenhouse gases as part of their general plan.

CA Government Code §65400 requires the County to report by April 1 of each year the status of the general plan and progress in its implementation. We expect the Board of Supervisors to review the pending report at a March 2020 hearing.

General Plan Policy LU-115, adopted November 2011, states a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, and presents four implementation measures:
• Adopt by resolution a first-phase Climate Action Plan.
• Complete a GHG emissions inventory every three years.
• Prepare a second-phase Climate Action Plan within three years.
• Enact and fund a Sustainability Program to provide ongoing oversight, monitoring and maintenance of the Climate Action Plan.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Image by kuanish Sarsenov from Pixabay

Regional Transit: Fare-Free Program for Youth is a Success!

February 12, 2020
Sacramento Regional Transit

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) announced today that student ridership has doubled since implementing the fare-free program for youth/students in grades transitional kindergarten (TK) to 12th. SacRT launched the RydeFreeRT program in October 2019, which offers youth/students access to the entire SacRT network, including buses, light rail and SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit service, for free.

Last month, SacRT experienced record ridership increases with 176,500 student trips taken on bus, which is a 106% increase from January 2019 student ridership.

“One of our top priorities at the City of Sacramento is offering more opportunities for young people,” said City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Having a free transit pass makes it easier to get to that paid internship, to that sports practice or that afterschool program. It’s amazing to see so many students take advantage of their new freedom to move around the Sacramento region and take advantage of all the opportunities it offers.”

The City of Sacramento provided SacRT with $1 million, as well as additional funds from other cities and school districts to counter revenue loss for the year-long RydeFreeRT program.

“Young people have told us the number one reason for chronic absence is lack of transportation. By eliminating transportation barriers, we’re increasing chances for more young people to succeed in school, career and in life,” said SacRT Board Director and City Council Member Jay Schenirer.

“SacRT is setting a new standard that will be emulated across the nation.”

“This program is the first in the nation to offer students free transit seven days a week, anywhere, any time,” said SacRT Board Chair and City Council Member Steve Hansen. “We are seeing a spike in students riding SacRT after school and on weekends, which confirms that there is a strong need for students to get to jobs, internships and extracurricular activities – Exactly what we hoped would happen with the implementation of this program.”

“Free fares for youth not only opens the door to opportunity, it creates lifelong public transit riders by instilling the habit at a young age,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “Research shows that people who ride public transportation at a young age are more likely to use it as adults, which could have a tremendous impact on traffic congestion and air quality.”

Researchers at University of Texas, Austin who recently completed a study with three Sacramento City Unified School District schools to assess the barriers students face in traveling to school and other activities, are conducting a study on the impact of fare-free transportation on these students’ lives in areas including, but not limited to, school attendance, engagement in out-of-school time enrichment activities, participation in work-based learning, and attitudes towards SacRT in general. The study is expected to be complete this summer.

More than 300 schools in the Sacramento region are enrolled in the program. Most students automatically received a RydeFreeRT sticker with their student ID. For students and youth not attending a participating school, stickers and cards are available for free at local Sacramento County public libraries and SacRT’s Customer Service and Sales Center.

Partners and participating school districts include Sacramento Public Library, Center Unified School District, Elk Grove Unified School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Natomas Unified School District, Robla School District, Sacramento City Unified School District, Sacramento County Office of Education, San Juan Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District, City of Citrus Heights, City of Folsom and City of Rancho Cordova. The RydeFreeRT program runs until September 30, 2020. SacRT is working to secure funding to continue the program in future years.

Within fiscal year 2020, SacRT has seen an estimated 6% increase in ridership system-wide. More information on the program is available at RydeFreeRT.com. Watch a student testimonial about the RydeFreeRT program here.