San Bernardino

Background Information

San Bernardino County has a population of over two million. Its county seat, the City of San Bernardino, and the bulk of the population lie in the extreme southwest of the county in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The county—the largest by area in the United States—includes dense urban areas, large expanses of desert, and protected federal natural areas, including the San Bernardino National Forest, the Mojave National Preserve, and Joshua Tree National Park.

San Bernardino County’s climate, already hot and arid, is projected to become even hotter and drier. Average temperatures could increase by two to four degrees Fahrenheit, while the western parts of the county could see as many as 18 to 20 more heat waves by midcentury. Reductions in annual precipitation will almost completely diminish snowpack by 2100 and increase wildfire risk.

Team Summary

One of the team’s priorities is to ensure that sustainability projects are properly designed to meet community-identified needs. In response, the team has been working to empower residents to invest in their community by actively listening to their concerns and aspirations and involving community members in the sustainability process. They have worked to provide meaningful opportunities for involvement, including discussions and events open to the entire community, and have proven their commitment to the long-term process of carrying out sustainability activities. The team recognizes that it takes time to plan for ways to involve all partners and stakeholders, and when this is done well, residents feel ownership of the work and acknowledgement that they helped make the changes needed in their community.

Promising Practices

  • In the fall of 2016, members of the team created a San Bernardino Community Coalition made up of San Bernardino County representatives, community-based organizations, community-equity advocates, and regional local government. The goals of this coalition were to identify community projects that could potentially align with each other, and to submit a proposal to help accelerate one of San Bernardino County’s community sustainability plans. The Advisory Council was created to ensure that projects submitted for the State of California grants were designed for authentic transformation of a vulnerable community in the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
  • The State of California Transformative Climate Community grants will be awarded to local community development groups and local agencies in partnership with a community-based organization that has a transformative climate community plan that demonstrates climate, economic workforce, health and environmental health benefits to vulnerable communities.
  • The coalition will be evaluating this project on social equity on the following points: 1) residents need to be involved in designing a plan that clearly articulates social equity goals; 2) social equity will be integrated into sustainability plans through an inclusive process; 3) local non­profits, universities, private partners, other local governments will collaborate to achieve identified common goals; 4) equity goals will be set that specifically address the needs of the vulnerable community; 5) data use and performance measures will track progress toward social equity objectives being achieved; and 6) adequate resources will be committed to implement that plan and assign a staff to administer the plan.

Key Challenges

  • Communities of color are often found to be disproportionately exposed to air pollution and other environmental hazards, therefore community engagement will be necessary for residents living in vulnerable communities. Getting residents involved will expand the number of people contributing to gains toward sustainability objectives and goals such as increasing job employment in green jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. There is a need to ensure social equity activities will assist in increasing community engagement.
  • Engaging communities living in vulnerable areas; communities of color are often disproportionately exposed to air pollution and other environmental hazards. Getting residents involved will expand the number of people contributing to sustainability objectives and goals.
  • Ensuring social equity activities to increase community engagement.