Environmental Justice Element

Environmental Justice Survey

Learn about this project and tell us what is important to you and your family!

The City of San Diego will be working with its communities to update the policies in the City’s General Plan through the development of an Environmental Justice Element, or chapter. This survey begins the update process by providing background information and asking for your thoughts on what areas and issues the City’s Environmental Justice policies should focus on.

What is the General Plan
and what does it do?

The General Plan is a document that provides values and guidelines for management of land within the city, including private and public buildings, sidewalks, streets, utilities, parks, natural habitat, and activities on that land. The values and guidelines in the General Plan are consulted by the public, city staff, advisory groups, decision-making boards and commissions, and the City Council when they develop recommendations and make decisions regarding topics covered in the General Plan. Proposals and decisions should be consistent with the guidelines in the General Plan.

The General Plan does not directly result in projects in our communities, but instead it plans for and guides future city actions. Community plans, City Council policies, infrastructure and facility improvement programs, and annual City budgets work together with the General Plan to plan for improvements in neighborhoods throughout San Diego. Updating policies and guidelines in the General Plan to work toward Environmental Justice is an important step to achieving equity and supporting all San Diegans to reach their full potential.

General Plan graphic

What is environmental justice?

There are many ways to think about Environmental Justice. This survey is guided by the definition of Environmental Justice as “Fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” (California Government Code Section 65040.12(c)). In other words, Environmental Justice ensures that people of all races, cultures, and incomes are equally and equitably valued, protected, and served by laws, regulations, and policies that impact the environment around us, including those about buildings and uses of land, transportation, parks and natural spaces, the urban landscape, and city services.

Some specific topics that are included in Environmental Justice are: 

  • Exposure to air pollution from automobiles and pollution from industrial businesses and activities
  • Access to resources for good health, including healthy food and grocery stores, safe spaces for physical activity, health care, and paramedic services
  • Exposure to increased health risks due to the influence of climate change
  • Access to safe infrastructure and facilities that support physical activity, including sidewalks, bicycle lanes, parks, and recreation centers 
  • Access to housing, including safe and healthy housing
  • Ability of residents to engage with each other and the City to consider and make decisions that affect community health and environmental issues

Identifying Areas That Aren’t Served or Protected Equitably

One of the outcomes of the Environmental Justice Element is to identify neighborhoods in San Diego that are low-income and disproportionately exposed to or affected by environmental pollution and other hazards that can lead to negative health effects or environmental degradation. Following the identification of these neighborhoods, neighborhood conditions will be analyzed to try to identify conditions that contribute to health and environmental hazards as well as policy and action steps to address these conditions. Your responses to this survey, along with scientific and infrastructure data, will be used to help identify these neighborhoods and steps to address neighborhood needs.