Our objection to the continued racist conduct of the California Air Resources Board.

October 20, 2020

California Air Resources Board Members

California Air Resources Board Executive Staff

1001 I Street

Sacramento, CA  95814

RE:  Agenda Item 20-11-6  Public Meeting to Consider an Update on Race, Equity, and the California Air Resources Board’s Activities – Comments and Public Records Act Request

We write to again to object to the continued racist conduct of the California Air Resources Board. 

  • CARB willfully elected to increase housing costs and make it more difficult for members of our communities to close the wealth gap with homeownership, and then you had your lawyer argue – unsuccessfully – that it was constitutional for CARB to engage in racially discriminatory housing policies.  Subsidizing rental housing for the poor does not excuse unlawful and immoral housing discrimination.
  • CARB’s discriminatory mandate to reduce vehicle miles travelled even by electric cars deprives members of our community, forced by high housing costs to drive until qualify for housing we can afford, of the basic mobility necessity you take for granted as you drive to work or take your parent to the doctor.  You want us to spend hours riding nonexistent buses with COVID-19 exposure while you glide around in a Tesla. 
  • Your leader equates the desperate plea of a choking victim of police brutality who can’t breathe with your agenda of killing well-paid jobs held by members of our community so you can import what you need from countries with environments you don’t care about.
  • You don’t even count greenhouse gas from catastrophic forest fires in the state’s GHG emission inventory, and instead of reducing GHG spend cap and trade dollars to impede evacuations from towns like Paradise who fall prey to your “road diet” propaganda of intentionally increasing congestion.
  • You happily subject the children and other residents living near Ports and highways with more air pollution from aging diesel vehicles instead of responding to our asthma and other health emergencies by supporting available cleaner truck technologies and instead holding out for an all-electric truck fleet that can navigate across the Mojave desert and beyond.  You trade away the health of our communities for bragging rights about your “visionary” climate leadership in supporting nonexistent technology at the next Paris conference.  You care more about the upward mobility and health of people in India and other developing countries than your care about our own communities of color.
  • In the data you shared with us, your promotion of only a token member from our communities into your top leadership ranks.  Under its current management, CARB is aligned with the description of white elitist environmental organizations that former Sierra Club President, and it’s first African American president in history, decried when he confirmed that racism has been and remains pervasive in the environmental movement.

Not even we, however, could have predicted that in the wake of Black Lives Matter and an outpouring of long-overdue recognition of racism, this Board would have convened a “Public Meeting to Consider an Update on Race, Equity and the California Air Resources Board’s Activities” to “provide staff guidance via resolution on work to remediate race-based harms” that included:

  • ZERO DISCLOSURE.  In fact, CARB’s “comment deadline” is October 19 even though CARB’s agenda makes clear that there will be ZERO information or documentation available on this item until two days later, at 9am on the day of the CARB hearing.
  • ZERO CONSULTATION.  CARB tried and failed to dismiss our civil rights lawsuit against the 2017 Scoping Plan, which includes thoroughly documented evidence of CARB’s racially discriminatory activities – as admitted by CARB’s own counsel who argued in writing, twice, that it was constitutional for CARB for engage in racially discriminatory housing measures.  CARB isn’t just racist, your own lawyer has admitted it’s racist.  Yet all you’ve done is watch – from the comfort of the homes virtually all of you on this Board own – as California’s housing prices escalate, housing production plunge, homeless and poverty rates increase, minority community members living in overcrowded and substandard housing get and die from COVID-19 more than white Californians. 
  • ZERO PARTICIPATION.  CARB’s meeting agenda website demands written commends be filed two days in advance, but the website does not make it possible to submit comments on this Agenda item – it’s just not important enough.

Notwithstanding our collective decades of civil rights advocacy and leadership against bureaucracies of all kinds, we continue to be shocked by CARB’s egregiously racist conduct for this item and its overall regressive (which in California equates to racist) actions.

We hereby file this comment letter and demand that the report, as well as any potential resolution, on CARB and racism be postponed until we and other members of the public have reviewed the referenced report and planned resolution.

We also hereby file this Public Records Act request for all documentation, including but not limited to emails and texts among and between Board members, staff, and third parties, relating to this Agenda item.  We request that this information be provided in electronic format to minimize our cost. 

And we take this opportunity to note that CARB’s failure over more than two years to complete its to our Public Records Act request just on select search terms related to housing and racial discrimination is a shameful obstruction tactic to avoid being held to account in our civil rights lawsuit.

Finally, we condemn what has long been known in the civil rights community (which includes the environmental justice community) as a DAD – Decide, Announce, Defend – whitewash of the issue of clearly acknowledging and taking aggressive corrective measures against CARB’s racism. 

Even in the heart of the ongoing COVID-19 calamity, which continues the unrelenting assault against communities of color already targeted by CARB’s anti-homeownership, “those people should just ride the bus” policies waged in your so-called war against climate change, this latest furtive secretive decision to try to sweep CARB’s racist conduct under the radar screen with an unreleased, unreviewed report and resolution on race is a shockingly hurtful Trump-like tactic to achieve the Trumpian goal of keeping suburbs, homeownership, and efficient local mobility white. 

CARB wants to put our communities back into the all-affordable rental housing “projects” that state and federal civil rights laws outlaw.  CARB is long overdue for fundamental reform to align the global climate grandstanding of your leaders with the urgent housing and mobility needs of our communities.

Sincerely,

John Gamboa, Vice-Chair of The Two Hundred