Identifying Disadvantaged Communities

SB 535 directs the Secretary for Environmental Protection to identify disadvantaged communities for investment of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. The CalEnviroScreen tool identifies these communities by ranking each of the state’s 8,000 census tracts using data on 20 indicators of pollution, environmental quality, and socioeconomic and public health conditions.

Under SB 535 (de León, Chapter 830, Statutes of 2012), a minimum of 25 percent of the total investments are required to benefit disadvantaged communities; of that, a minimum of 10 percent are required to be located within and provide benefits to those communities. 

Investments in Disadvantaged Communities

For projects implemented to date, 51 percent of investments are benefiting disadvantaged communities, and 31 percent are located within disadvantaged communities.

Cumulatively, agencies have implemented projects in 98 percent of disadvantaged community census tracts, which are providing a variety of benefits to those communities.

For example, through CAL FIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry program, the City of Modesto Tree Replanting Activity Project has planted over 1,400 trees that provide shade, result in energy savings, and create a more comfortable environment for active transportation and recreation. Caltrans’ Low Carbon Transit Operations Program is supporting Visalia Transit system’s V Line bus service expansion to seven days a week. CSD’s Low-Income Weatherization Program is helping low-income residents in disadvantaged communities reduce their energy use and energy costs; in Kern County alone, over 600 homes received energy efficiency upgrades. 

In September 2016, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed AB 1550 (Gomez, Chapter 369, Statutes of 2016), which modifies the SB 535 disadvantaged community investment minimums.

AB 1550 requires that a minimum of 25 percent of the proceeds be invested in projects that are located within and benefiting individuals living in disadvantaged communities; it requires an additional minimum of 5 percent of funds be invested in projects that benefit low-income households or communities statewide; and that an additional 5 percent be invested in projects that benefit low-income households or communities that are within a 1/2 mile of a disadvantaged community.

Administering agencies are in the process of transitioning to full implementation of AB 1550 as part of FY 2017-18 funded programs. Guidance on implementation will be included in the 2017 update to the Funding Guidelines 

More information of AB 1550 implementation and identification of disadvantaged and low-income communities.  

Disadvantaged Community Outreach

Many disadvantaged community residents and groups have interest in applying for funds, but may lack awareness of available programs or capacity and resources to access funds. These communities require information about the range of funding opportunities and the various program application requirements, and technical assistance to fully leverage the opportunities these funds present. 

The State and administering agencies have undertaken a broad effort to help disadvantaged communities better understand and access program information, and promote effective engagement and participation in the California Climate Investments program. This coordinated effort comprises several components, which are shown in Figure 8 and described in more detail below. 

Many of the existing outreach efforts for disadvantaged communities under SB 535 will extend to low-income communities and households defined under AB 1550. Administering agencies are committed to providing ongoing and enhanced outreach to disadvantaged and low-income communities across the State. This coordinated outreach effort will improve funding access, build community capacities, and strengthen partnerships with these communities for effective and successful implementation of climate investments that benefit and strengthen California’s most vulnerable communities.