California ReLeaf, its Network Members, and its statewide coalition partners have significantly raised the visibility and awareness of urban forestry in Sacramento over the past several years. Together, we have augmented the Urban Forestry Act of 1978 with language and objectives that bring this landmark legislation into the 21st Century. We have helped create new programs that support active transportation, and protected old ones that provide funding for environmental mitigation. We have helped preserve the rights of all Californians to volunteer their time and spirit to each and every one of our tree care and tree planting projects. And we have led the charge in securing $33 million in California Climate Investments funding for CalFIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Our commitment to be the voice of urban forestry in California’s capitol continues, and can only get stronger with the support of our local and statewide partners.
The following is a synopsis of our current advocacy efforts, and a review of past successes.
Current Advocacy Efforts
Updating the Urban Forestry Act
California ReLeaf, TreePeople and the California Urban Forests Council are sponsoring Assembly Bill 1530 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D – San Diego). The bill further amends the Urban Forestry Act of 1978 to reflect and further incorporate such priorities as tree care and maintenance, stormwater management, pest control, social equity, and climate adaptation. There are 110 public, private, and nonprofit organizations in support of the bill including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Click here and here to see the support letters.
Both the Senate and Assembly have introduced park bonds that are intended for the November 2018 ballot. Assembly Bill 18 (Garcia) currently does not contain an appropriation for urban forestry, but may be amended prior to its next committee hearing. Senate Bill 5 (De León) includes no less than $15 million for CalFIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. See the position letters for both bills here and here.
Cap and Trade Extension
Governor Brown is urging the Legislature to extend California’s Cap-and-Trade Program through 2030 with legislation requiring a 2/3 vote. Such a bill passed by a supermajority in both houses would effectively make this a tax, thus removing legal uncertainties surrounding the program but also allowing the Administration and Legislature to spend revenues on things other than GHG reduction projects and programs. Governor Brown has stated a cap-and-trade expenditure plan for fiscal year 2018 will not be considered until after the extension is achieved.
State Administrative Actions
The Brown Administration has released two draft reports in 2017 that could help determine the viability of sustainable urban forestry support at the State level. The 2030 Target Scoping Plan Update draft and California Forest Carbon Plan draft both offer goals and strategies to support urban forestry in the long-term by setting 5% canopy increase targets over the next 13 years, and focusing on protecting our existing green infrastructure too. See California ReLeaf comment letters here and here.
Federal Funding for Urban Forestry
The Trump Administration’s proposed budget zeroes out the Federal Urban and Community Forestry Program – the first time this has been proposed by a sitting President. California ReLeaf has joined with multiple organizations across the nation in supporting testimony developed by the Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition that recommends an investment of $31.3 million in the Program for Fiscal Year 2018. See the letter here.
Keeping California Great – The Bigger Environmental Picture
In order to show solidarity on the big picture of protecting California’s environmental health, California ReLeaf has joined dozens of non-profits from multiple sectors in support of several bills introduced to combat threats posed by the current Federal Administration. SB 30 (Lara) would limit any contractor’s ability to do business with the State of California if that contractor is employed to help build a California-Mexico border wall, which would severely inhibit wildlife corridors. SB 49 (De León and Stern) establishes certain minimum federal environmental, public health, and labor standards in California as baselines in the event the Congress or President repeal or weaken corresponding federal standards, especially as related Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. And SB 50 (Allen) establishes a policy of the state to discourage conveyances of federal public lands in California to third parties and deem such conveyances void unless the State Lands Commission is provided with the right of first refusal or the right to arrange the transfer to a third party.
Past Advocacy Highlights
California State Budget 2014-2017
Governor Brown and the State Legislature have invested record levels of funding in myriad programs over the last three years that support urban forestry in multiple ways. Cumulatively, this includes $850 million for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, $380 million for the Active Transportation Program, $140 million for the Transformative Climate Communities Program, $101 million for the Stormwater Management Program, $80 million for the Urban Greening Program, $39 million for the Urban and Community Forestry Program, $24.4 million for the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, and $26 million for river parkways, urban rivers, and urban streams.
Preserving the Right to Volunteer
Assembly Member Rich Gordon (D – Menlo Park) carried AB 327 in 2015 that creates a seven-year extension on the 2017 sunset provision from the previous Gordon measure passed in 2011 (AB 587). California ReLeaf and 40 Network Members joined with another 140 state, local and regional organizations to support this effort and get it signed into law. The new sunset date in 2024.
AB 32 Extension
Over 300 businesses, local governments and nonprofits banded together to help pass Senate Bill 32 (Pavley) in 2016 which extends California’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Though the bill does not extend the Cap-and-Trade Program, it does send a clear market signal that California is determined to continue the spirit and implementation of AB 32 into the next 14 years and beyond. See some of the support materials for SB 32 here and here.
Equity for Investments
Environmental justice advocates supported by nearly 90 nonprofits and other stakeholders spearheaded successful efforts to pass Assembly Bill 1550 (Gomez). AB 1550 revises the investment markers created by SB 535 in 2012 to ensure 25% of all Cap-and-Trade dollars are for projects located in and benefitting DACs, with another 10% for projects providing benefit to low income communities and households as defined. See support material for AB 1550 here.
Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP) and Active Transportation Program (ATP)
California ReLeaf lead a coalition of conservation partners in 2013 that successfully preserved the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program while simultaneously working with a broader coalition of stakeholders to create a new Active Transportation Program (ATP).
The EEMP is now run through the Natural Resources Agency and focuses primarily on funding resource lands and urban forestry, receiving $6.7 million annually for local grants assistance. The “parks and trails” component of the EEMP was moved to the ATP, which is administered by the Department of Transportation and seeks to encourage active transportation through a variety of eligible projects that include safe routes to schools and bicycle trails. The ATP receives approximately $130 million each year, making it the largest program of its kind in the U.S.
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Links to biographies, home pages, and committee assignments for all California State Senators and Assembly Members.
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