Prevention Institute applauds two park equity bills as they move forward in the California Legislature
This was an important week for healthy, equitable land use in our nation’s largest state. California’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water reviewed and analyzed Senate Bill 5 (de León), The California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018, which would create a statewide bond to increase access to parks, open space, and critical water infrastructure. Prevention Institute supports SB 5 and a similar bill progressing through the State Assembly, AB 18 (Garcia), the California Clean Water, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018.
Prevention Institute thanks Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León for his longtime leadership to increase safe access to parks for all Californians and applauds the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee for moving SB 5 forward!
Parks and open space are fundamental building blocks of healthy, safe, vibrant communities. Across California and the nation, the leading causes of death—heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, injury, and violence—occur with greater frequency, severity, and earlier onset within communities of color and in low-income communities. This is in large part because these communities are less likely to live in places that provide the bedrock social, economic, and physical supports that lead to good health outcomes in the first place. Parks, open space, and natural resources like clean air, water, and soil are fundamental determinants of health—the building blocks of healthy, safe, vibrant communities.
SB 5 sends a clear message that all Californians deserve access to these critical resources; it also provides a strategic framework to achieve its equity-focused objectives. In our commentary on the legislation, we’ve elevated opportunities to:
- Highlight the health equity impacts of park deficits in communities, and how parks support public health.
- Provide resources for the ongoing operation and maintenance of parks and natural resource systems.
- Prioritize projects that leverage active transportation and transit investments to promote sustainability.
- Link park development resources with local displacement prevention solutions.
- Incorporate program evaluation to analyze how effectively bond spending meets the specific priorities identified in SB 5.
These proposed investments in California’s parks and natural resources come at a time when, at the federal level, we’re seeing rollbacks of environmental protections and programs that have helped keep communities healthy and safe for half a century. Prevention Institute is committed to protecting these critical environmental resources across the nation, and supporting bold, innovative investments in healthy, equitable land use at the local and state levels.
We call upon health and equity advocates working across the spectrum of issues—environmental justice, housing, anti-displacement, transportation, public health, and beyond—to come together and support park equity as a key resource for the health, safety, and prosperity of all California communities.
What’s next for SB 5: In the next 1-2 weeks, the bill will go before the State Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, which is an important opportunity to voice support for park operations and maintenance funding. Prevention Institute is working on a comment letter for the Committee; please contact Rachel Bennett (RachelB@preventioninstitute.org) if you’re interested in signing on or learning more about how you can support park equity and public health.