We did it! Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Equitable Outdoor Access Act (AB 30) into law, a historic milestone toward achieving equitable opportunities for safe and affordable access to nature for all Californians.
Implementation of AB 30 will result in more parks and open space across California, especially in communities that are deprived of natural areas. Expanding green space will improve healthy outdoor recreation, connect communities with nature, create bird habitat, and build bird-friendly communities.
Tens of thousands of Audubon California members raised their powerful voices in support of AB 30 over the last two years and helped to deliver this enormous victory for California communities.
Millions of Californians still lack access to even a basic city park or urban street trees that shade homes and beautify neighborhoods. AB 30 helps to right this wrong by establishing it as the state's policy that all Californians should have access to nature and its benefits and that state agencies should implement this policy through their programs, grants, and policies.
A recent study by the Hispanic Access Foundation and the Center for American Progress found that communities of color are three times more likely than white communities to live in park-poor and nature-deprived areas. Nearly 70 percent of low-income communities lack access to trails or neighborhood parks compared to more affluent areas.
Communities across the state continue to suffer from the pervasive impacts of illegal redlining, lending, and housing practices that relegated African American, Latino, Jewish, Asian, and other marginalized communities to nature-deprived areas. In contrast, tree-lined streets, parks, and other greenspaces were concentrated in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods.
Access to nature for communities is about more than just having pretty green spaces in a neighborhood. Time in natural areas reduces levels of depression, disease, and violence. It invites wildlife and native plants back into people’s daily lives and offers a respite and balance from the stresses of everyday life.
Everyone in California deserves these benefits, which have been kept from too many for too long. Implementation of this bill will bridge gaps in access to natural spaces for people of color and lower-income Californians who have suffered due to over a century’s worth of planning decisions that have limited, and in some cases eliminated access to the outdoors.
So as AB 30 is implemented, Audubon expects to see more parks, open space, and wildlife areas in communities that lack access to nature. That will mean more Western Tanagers and Yellow Warblers migrating through people’s neighborhoods. It will mean more trees and native plants blossoming in green spaces that are an easy walk from people’s homes. It will mean healthier, happier Californians connecting with the state’s remarkable natural resources.
Thank you to our Audubon community for making history with us!