Ribbon cutting for microgrid
A 2022 ribbon cutting for the microgrid serving the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians tribal government complex. Tribal leaders are set to be part of a new San Diego County environmental working group.

San Diego County supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved the creation of an environmental justice working group.

Proponents say it will give residents more of a voice and allow for better agency cooperation.

The board directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to establish the Regional Social Equity Working Group, which will consult with the county Office of Sustainability and Environmental Justice.

As proposed by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas, the working group will consist of residents or native American tribal leaders who have experienced environmental injustice, community/tribal groups and academics or researchers with expertise in the underlying causes of health, social, economic or environmental disparities.

The proposal also includes a workshop that will allow labor unions, non-profits, economic development groups, universities/colleges and environmental organizations to develop strategies for job growth, decarbonization and a workforce development pipeline.

Supervisors will later review the workshop results.

Robbins-Meyer also will consult with the San Diego Air Pollution Control District and the California Air Resources Board on funding issues related to air quality.

Vargas, the board’s chairwoman, said the proposal revolves “around creating healthier and stronger communities (for the county) by removing structural barriers, especially for those communities that have been left behind for many years.”

She said the working group will serve as a hub for community leaders, and a one-stop shop for agencies to discuss environmental justice and social equity issues.

Lawson-Remer, the board’s vice chair, said the group will create a deeper strategy for decarbonization and a greener workforce.

In a related action, supervisors unanimously approved spending a total of $2 million on vendor contracts to plant 3,500 trees in the county.

According to the Parks & Recreation Department, the money also will cover the installation of watering systems, removal of dead or diseased trees, and planting and maintenance equipment. Planting should begin this spring and be completed by the fall season.

Lawson-Remer said planting thousands of more trees a year “is the least we can do” for more livable and sustainable communities.

City News Service