Assemblymember Cristina Garcia Assembly Bill 1778 to Prohibit California from Funding or Permitting Freeway Expansion in Environmental Justice Communities Passes the Assembly Floor

For immediate release:

(Sacramento) – Today, Assembly Bill (AB) 1778 (Garcia) passed off the Assembly Floor. This bill would prohibit the State of California from funding or permitting transportation projects of freeway expansions/widening in Environmental Justice Communities adversely affected by vehicle emissions and/or in areas with a higher rate of population below the poverty line. Specifically, AB 1778 would make it so that neither state money, personnel hours, nor permits are allocated to construction projects in disadvantaged communities. More than 200,000 people have lost their homes nationwide to federal road projects over the last three decades, according to a Los Angeles Times[i] analysis of federal transportation data. The actual total is higher because many states fail to report how many homes are taken annually. In large projects in California and four other states the families that lost their homes were disproportionately residents in Black and Latino neighborhoods. “If we are truly going to govern with equity lenses we must stop the seizure of family homes in poor brown and Black communities and acknowledge that the freeway system, since the 1950’s, has been used as a tool to further disenfranchise low income communities and communities of color like mine,” stated Assemblymember Garcia. Evidence also indicates that expanding freeways isn’t easing congestion problems. Experts have found that widening freeways can actually increase traffic, because it leads to urban sprawl and encourages more vehicle trips. This simply leads to more pollution and further exacerbates the community’s health problems. AB 1778, is inspired by the threat of the proposed widening of Interstate 710 from the port of Long Beach to the railyards in my district. Brown and Black communities along the I-710 corridor are already plagued with bad air quality, congested city streets, and expanding the freeway will increase vehicle emissions effectively choking community members to death and displacing many low income Latinos.