Bay Area Tries to Screw the Poor

It’s bad enough when folks from the Bay Area pretend that they are smarter and more sophisticated than everyone else. It’s bad enough that they trash southern California (inaccurately) for “stealing” its water from the Owens Valley while enjoying water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

But trying to undermine environmental justice while pretending to be progressive is going too far:

Bay Area public officials are challenging a state plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fight climate change by cleaning the air in some of California’s poorest and most polluted communities, most of which are in Southern California.

The officials say the state’s method of determining which communities are helped is flawed because it would exclude some of their region’s most at-risk residents….

To pinpoint the neediest communities, the California Environmental Protection Agency spent years and about $1.5 million developing a screening tool that uses 19 measures of environmental exposure, health risk and socioeconomic status.

Using that analysis, more than half the funds would go to Los Angeles County communities and most of the rest to other areas of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. Less than 5% would go to the Bay Area.

Twenty Bay Area legislators have decided that since, under an objective funding formula, they don’t get as much money as they want, there must be something wrong with the formula. They don’t actually specify what’s wrong with the formula, but…you know…there has to be something. (The reporter is Tony Barboza, who is very good and thorough: if there were an argument there, he would have reported it).

This is precisely the sort of political mucking-around with funding formulas that has undermined justice efforts in the past. Them that’s got shall get, them that don’t shall lose, and the devil take the hindmost. Enough with this. Either you have data or you don’t: “we don’t get as much as we want” is not data.

Oh yeah: and the Giants suck.

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Reader Comments

6 Replies to “Bay Area Tries to Screw the Poor”

  1. That fact that I am blissfully unaware of the facts of this post in no way inhibits my offering the following comments:

    1. I am shocked, shocked that there are regional disputes in California over the distribution of funds for worthy causes. (Apologies to Claude Rains)

    2. How many ways does the Bay Area screw the poor? Let me count the ways. (Apologies to Elizabeth Browning)

    3. It goes without saying that any formula developed by a government agency at the cost of $1.5M is objective. (Apologies to Rand Paul)

    4. Where does all this resentment against the Bay Area come from oh yee inhabitants of the entertainment capitol of the WORLD? (Apologies to Jonathan Zasloff)

    5. The Giants? What sport do they play? (No apologies)

  2. Tom Adams, in his comment below gets it almost right when he states….”That fact that I am blissfully unaware of the facts of this post in no way inhibits my offering the following comments:”

    Of course, the real matter at hand is that Jonathan M. Zasloff, Professor of Law, is the one in the blissful state of ignorance. Not only does Mr. Zasloff himself seem unaware of the basic facts, as he makes plain by quoting the flawed LA Times story, but seems the good professor is simply substituting laziness for actual effort and study in order to indulge in this faux regional rivalry.

    There is a higher standard, counselor.

    Randy Rentschler
    Metropolitan Transportation Commission
    Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

    1. Faxu regional rivalry? It’s the Bay Area that is making it a rivalry by saying that southern California is getting too much money. In any event, if there is a criticism of the model based, send it along and I will comment.

  3. I used to work for the agency that developed that screening tool.
    I tried repeatedly to get the office funds for GIS systems, back when they cost way a lot, only to be rebuffed seemingly because GIS systems could be used for environmental justice analysis.
    TImes have changed, and it’s great that the agency is doing such important work.
    Serious public health professionals staff that office.

    See also:
    Similar issues there.

  4. Mr. Zasloff,

    I often admire your well-reasoned, well- written columns for this site.

    As a Northern Californian, I admit we can sometimes be hypocrites.

    But as for the Giants: they do what now?

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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