The City of Placentia received special acknowledgement from the California Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Environmental Justice to commend the City on the recently adopted General Plan, with special compliments on the Health, Wellness, & Environmental Justice element (HW&EJ Element). The City saw an opportunity to intertwine environmental justice with the broader topic of health and wellness to not only satisfy SB 1000, but to ensure the General Plan was the most comprehensive and visionary plan for all communities within Placentia.
In October 2019, the Placentia City Council adopted the General Plan update entitled “Rich Heritage, Bright Future – Placentia General Plan.” The General Plan update is a blueprint for the community’s future growth, establishing a vision for the City for the next 20-30 years. Although minor updates have occurred throughout the years, this is the City’s first comprehensive General Plan update in 40 years. The City took this opportunity to not only address required General Plan elements but seized the opportunity to address optional topics with an innovative and modern approach.
The HW&EJ Element focuses on addressing SB 1000 requirements, which compels local governments to address “disproportionate pollution burdens and the unique health risks that accompany the exposure experienced by low-income communities.” Placentia’s HW&EJ Element focuses on improving the conditions in disadvantaged communities with elevated pollution burdens and provides specific, holistic policies and goals that ensures the health of these communities is prioritized as future projects and plans are considered.
The City was specifically recognized for the precedence given to improve the conditions of disadvantaged communities over competing interests. The General Plan states it will prioritize the well-being of these communities which “is a positive step towards remedying inequitable allocation of pollution burdens and environmental benefits,” said Deputy Attorney General Jessica Wall.
“Our General Plan has been a crucial aspect in planning for equality and future growth for the City,” said Placentia Mayor Ward Smith. “It was vital to create a General Plan that would carry our vision of Placentia into the future and we are excited that the effort to create a meaningful, forward looking General Plan has been recognized by the State.”
The letter from Deputy Attorney General Jessica Wall describes the HW&EJ Element as “an innovative model for compliance” and the office “applauds Placentia’s efforts to improve health and equity in the city.” The Attorney General’s Office has listed Placentia’s Health, Wellness, & Environmental Justice section on their website as an example to be used by other jurisdictions when creating their Environmental Justice element/policy.
“The comprehensive General Plan is a shining example of Placentia’s efforts to create a future that plans for all resident’s well-being while still maintaining a clear path forward for our community,” said City Administrator Damien R. Arrula.
“The City is elated that the State will use our HW&EJ Element as an example for other cities to update their General Plans in compliance with State law,” said Joseph Lambert, Placentia’s Director of Development Services. “The City saw an opportunity for innovation in pairing the critical topics of health and wellness along with environmental justice to prioritize healthy living and equity in all Placentia communities.”