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Environmental Justice

Long Beach is very diverse, which can be a source of strength and resilience. However, it also has racial and economic disparities that are manifested spatially across the city. Climate change will impact all of Long Beach, but some of the city’s communities already experience disproportionate environmental health burdens today. Tools such as CalEnviroScreen help identify the California communities that are most affected by many sources of pollution and the areas where people are often especially vulnerable to pollution’s effects. For Long Beach, CalEnviroScreen shows how Central, West, and North Long Beach experience some of the highest pollution impacts in California. It reveals that many areas are worse off than 95 percent of the state. Only 2.2 miles away, communities in eastern Long Beach face a less cumulative burden than 85 to 90 percent of the state. Extreme heat stemming from climate change is expected to affect the greatest number of people in Long Beach, and its impacts are more concentrated in Central, West, and North Long Beach.
Long Beach Indicators of Social Vulnerability Map

History of Environmental Justice

It is no coincidence that the populations living in these areas tend to be low-income communities of color. Low-income communities and communities of color in Long Beach are more likely to live in areas with poor air quality, in regions with little green space, and along the Los Angeles River channel where the risk of urban flooding is expected to increase. These geographic patterns exist due to socioeconomic inequality caused by long-standing discriminatory practices in education, housing, employment, local political representation, and access to resources. Low-income communities of color were historically excluded from neighborhoods with less environmental pollution and greater public investment, and these practices partly explain why low-income communities of color today are still concentrated in the portions of the city with the poorest air quality and environmental health indicators. Looking further back, it is important to acknowledge that the land that became the city of Long Beach, like other cities throughout the region, state, and the country, was originally occupied by Indigenous Peoples, in particular, the Tongva/Gabrieleño and Acjachemen/Juaneño Nations. We should recognize them as the first stewards and traditional caretakers of this area we now call Long Beach.

Sustainable Planning in an Environmental Justice Context 

Inclusive planning is based on meaningful community engagement and strategies to address social inequities. While the CAP development process reached out to people throughout the city, it placed a significant focus on reaching those communities most impacted by climate change, including young people and communities of color.

How the LB CAP was developed with a focus on  communities most impacted by climate change