Mission Gorge Regional Park. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously to create a Climate Equity Fund Tuesday, allowing the city’s underserved neighborhoods an easier mechanism to secure city funding for climate-related infrastructure projects.

Beginning in fiscal year 2022, the city will set aside a portion of its revenue — $4.8 million this coming year — when creating its annual budget for projects allowing “communities of concern” to adapt to climate change.

“I was pleased to propose the creation of the Climate Equity Fund in partnership with Mayor [Todd] Gloria,” Councilwoman Vivian Moreno said. “We not only accomplish the goal of increasing the equity infrastructure investment to our disadvantaged communities and addressing our Climate Action Plan goals, but we send a strong message to our underserved residents that it is a new day in the city of San Diego.”

According to a city staff report, the city’s disadvantaged communities experience a lack of infrastructure including deficient park acreage, unimproved streets lacking pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and insufficient street lighting.

“For too long, our communities of concern have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate,” Gloria said. “The approval from City Council to establish the Climate Equity Fund is an important step to ensure underserved communities directly benefit from our efforts around climate action.”

“No one in any community should have to fight for the inalienable rights they’ve been given — which include clean air, water, and a climate-safe environment,” he continued.

The fund will be financed annually through allocation of a percentage of revenue from a gas tax, Transnet — the regional half-cent sales tax for local transportation — and annual gas and electric franchise fees.

Funding allocations to specific projects will be made during the city’s annual budget process. The council and mayor’s office will seek input on allocation of the funds from the Office of Race and Equity regarding recommendations for project locations and from the Sustainability Department regarding the impact a project would have on the city’s Climate Action Plan goals.

“The creation of the CEF is a strong step in the right direction for climate justice,” Councilman Raul Campillo said.

The Climate Equity Index is a tool that measures the access to opportunity residents have within a census tract. To be funded, projects must be in areas determined to have very low, low, or moderate access to opportunity in the index.

The budget is proposed in April and finalized in June.

— City News Service contributed to this article

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