(Sacramento, Calif., Sept. 30, 2022)—Tonight, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that, for the first time, establishes that basic access to nature for all Californians is state policy. Assembly Bill (AB) 30, authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San José), partnered with Audubon California to craft the Equitable Outdoor Access Act, declaring that “it is state policy, among other things, to ensure that all Californians have equitable opportunities to safe and affordable access to nature and access to the benefits of nature, and to prevent and minimize the intentional and unwarranted limitation of sustainable public access to public lands.” The bill requires relevant state agencies to consider public access to the state’s incomparable coasts, including mountains, forests, state and urban parks when developing budgets or establishing state policies.
“Time spent outdoors has been linked to lower levels of disease, depression and violence,” said Gaylon Parsons, Interim Executive Director for Audubon California. “Yet, millions of Californians, including in some of the state’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, lack even a basic city park or urban street trees where they can seek shelter from the sun. All Californians benefit from AB 30 as it contributes to undoing more than a century’s worth of planning decisions that marginalized people of color and lower-income Californians.”
Communities across the state still suffer from the pervasive impacts of community redlining – lending and housing practices that relegated African American, Latino, Jewish, Asian and other marginalized communities to less-desirable areas, with tree-lined streets, parks and other greenspaces concentrated in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods. While redlining today is illegal, the lowest-income and most segregated communities across California often have the least access to nature. 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.
The Governor’s signature of AB 30 is a step forward in righting these historic wrongs by prioritizing equity in state policy decisions to achieve greater access to the outdoors for all.
The bill will take effect January 1, 2023.
Jason Howe, firstname.lastname@example.org; 415-595-9245
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.