Second Environmental Summit, September 29th

A summary of the issues

San Diego at the Tipping Point

Leaders gather to addresses Transportation, Climate, Biodiversity, and Housing needs at Environmental Summit.
On September 29, 2018 over 35 organizations were joined by elected officials to identify areas of collaboration on key regional issues. It was clear at the Summit that implementation of transit, increased  density done correctly in urban areas, investment in transit and environmental justice communities, addressing housing affordability and upgrading current housing stocks, stopping sprawl and County General Plan Amendments, and preservation of critical habitats were priorities of most in attendance.
A summary of the issues discussed during the Summit is below.
The themes that seemed to come out in the presentations and questions were these:
1.  The region needs a strong Regional Transportation Plan to provide real choice, mobility and meet climate goals from SANDAG, a transit Master Plan from the City of San Diego, and increased dedicated funding for transit.
If we are to effectively deal with our traffic and transportation issues, engaging with SANDAG is a must.  Whether it is the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, linking the Climate Plans with transportation, withholding funds from cities without climate plans, or developing the right projects to get us to our goals, SANDAG holds the keys to our region’s success related to climate and mobility. People need to meet with and get active with SANDAG and some Board members need to be replaced.
In addition, the City of San Diego needs to deliver the long-promised Transportation Master Plan to serve as a roadmap to meeting the mode share goals in its Climate Action Plan. As we address our housing needs, we should be increase densities where it can be supported by transit and affordable by a wide range of economic levels.
Transportation investment must be equitably pursued in most impacted environmental justice communities first and we need to support and secure dedicated funding for transit in the region and stop the subsidy of cars and more roads.
2. Biodiversity must be protected and defended.
We are suffering from a biodiversity crisis.  As part of one of very few global biodiversity hotspots in the world, San Diego must continue to play its role in a healthy ecosystem. Planning for habitat viability and linkages for wildlife through the Natural Communities Conservation Plans is a high priority. We must continue to fight hard to stop the current Board of Supervisors from undermining the consensus County General Plan, using litigation, legislation, electoral, and ballot actions where necessary.  We must bring a stop urban sprawl/leapfrog development that exacerbates wildfire impacts, support infill development done well, improve the current housing stock as well as increase needed housing in transit supporting areas.  We need to protect the last, best habitats and connect them through linkages, funded by a stable and adequate Regional Funding Source.
As a region, we need to see biodiversity as an integrated part of a key platform of a sustainable future and for life on earth.
3. Embrace Urban Density to bring Affordable Housing and Improve Housing Affordability.
To address may of our issues, we need to find a way to get comfortable with increased urban densities. As critical is taking care to ensure that the density is implemented the right way employing anti-displacement measures, supportive infrastructure, relief on parking requirements, locations away from unhealthful locations like freeways, and, where necessary, done in a gradual pace rather than large up-zones all at once. We don’t have a market-rate housing crisis. We have a housing affordability crisis and only additional units that can be afforded by moderate and low-income families can help address this. There is a significant over supply of luxury units and new housing alone, will not solve the problem.  The most effective effort to ease the housing crisis must be directed toward existing housing stock upgrade and projects for housing affordable to low and moderate-income families.

4. An active local community is critical to creating the future we want.  

Creating a future is not a bystanders sport.  We must all act.
  • Engage Your elected officials
  • Join community groups who share your values and work actively with them.
  • Show Up Attend meetings, share your views, support others who share your values.
  • Educate yourself–  Anyone can learn, because everyone cares and has a stake in the outcome.
  • Volunteer for a campaign of your choice this month!
  • Donate to a campaign and an organization of your values each month.
  • VOTE November 6th.    Get ready to hit the ground running on November 7th.
The Environmental Leadership Summit was organized by the Environmental Center of San Diego and sponsored by Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, Briggs Law Corporation, IBEW Local 569, Pacifica Companies, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, San Diego Coastkeeper, The La Jolla Group, Preserve Calavera, San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance and the Environmental Center of San Diego.


Summit 2017 Wrap-Up

A successful Environmental Leadership Summit was held on October 14, 2017 at the Wyndham Hotel on San Diego Bay.  We will be offering the presentations from the Summit as they are approved.  Please check back often as more information will be added.
Event Program
Power Point Presentations
Sign up for the ECOSD News List
Media Release 
Inaugural Environmental Leadership Summit A Success: 100 environmental, community, labor, housing, justice, climate leaders address local challenges, forge solutions, commit to collaboration.                   
October 14, 2017 — One hundred leaders from local NGO, labor, housing, and community organizations gathered for the first Environmental Leadership Summit.  The leaders heard presentations on a wide range of issues including housing, water quality, habitat conservation planning, labor, transportation, social and environmental justice issues.
The Summit was opened by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher who inspired the group listing successes of the past legislative year.  She challenged the attendees to continue pressure to ensure successful implementation of a legislative landmark victory, the passage of AB805.
Housing was a major topic at the summit with a compelling presentation by Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, Director of Planning and Development for the San Diego Building Trades Council Family Housing Corporation.  His presentation on the history of redlining in our communities and the need for social equity in our housing decisions was one highlight of the event.  Leading environmental and coastal attorney, Marco Gonzalez, challenged the group to consider full support of infill housing projects near transit where it is a means to reduce pressure on open spaces and wildlands and reduce climate change.
Climate action merited two panels at the event with community choice energy, coastal planning, and wetlands restoration of Mission Bay as key priorities.  Nicole Capretz, Director of the Climate Action Campaign reminded the group to stay the course on implementation of clean energy plans and that our region will set a new standard as a national clean energy leader if we persist.
Transportation justice was also a key element of the Summit and there was much interest and support for proposals for free transit passes for youth, innovative parking strategies, and strong implementation of protective air quality thresholds by the Air Resources Board.
San Diego County policies were also a focus area with major commitments to the need to protect  the County General Plan from damaging amendments.  In addition, groups sought support to defeat sprawl developments like Safari Highland Ranch, Lilac Hills, and Newland Sierra, improve  the County Climate Action Plan, continue progress on regional habitat planning, and secure funding for conservation.
Labor leader Brigette Browning of UNITE HERE Local 30 reminded all attendees of the significant gains that have been made in the region when labor, environmental, and justice organizations collaborate and work together in coalition.
A 2018 Environmental Vision is intended to be released soon that seeks to reflect the needs of the environment, working people, residents, climate risks, and supports regional sustainability.
The Leadership summit was organized by the Environmental Center of San Diego and sponsored by Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, Briggs Law Corporation, IBEW Local 569, UNITE HERE Local 30, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, Preserve Calavera, San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance and the Environmental Center of San Diego
The Summit was held at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside Hotel, a union hotel.