Stockton residents in some neighborhoods will be able to breathe more easily thanks to separate efforts being leveraged to achieve a common goal — reducing air pollution.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently approved the Community Emissions Reduction Program (CERP) for Stockton mandated by state Assembly Bill 617 and intended to reduce harmful emissions in disadvantaged neighborhoods. A broad-based community steering committee worked with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to develop plans to reduce those emissions. Over the next four years, $32 million will be invested to improve Stockton’s air quality, according to a city press release.
The steering committee’s recommended priorities for those Stockton neighborhoods include vegetative barriers and urban greening; home weatherization, solar panels and air filtration; residential and commercial lawn and garden equipment; bike paths and infrastructure; clean vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations; a truck rerouting study; and incentives to replace wood burning devices. Countywide recommended priorities include a car share program, school air filtration, zero-emission heavy duty trucks, job training programs, truck idling switches, and locomotive switcher.
That effort will complement separate efforts by the San Joaquin Council of Governments that is using grants not connected to AB 617. CARB awarded SJCOG $7.4 million from its Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (STEP) and another nearly $1 million from its Clean Mobility Options Voucher Pilot Program (CMO). SJCOG will use the grants to increase transportation equity by providing residents access to electric carshare and bikeshare programs for trips to schools, grocery stores, workplaces, doctor’s appointments and more, while also reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality. The agency is developing a workforce development program to train workers to maintain the electric vehicles and bicycles in the carshare and bikeshare programs.
SJCOG is also in the early stages of a truck planning study that may potentially redirect routes to reduce congestion, which may also improve air quality.
Stockton is in the top 5 percent in most disadvantaged communities in California, according to the city’s statement on the CERP approval, and has an extremely high amount of tiny solid and liquid particles — dust, dirt, soot and smoke — in the air. The particles can settle deep in the lungs when breathed in and cause serious health and socioeconomic problems, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, low birthweight, low educational attainment, poverty and unemployment.
SJCOG will continue to work with the city and San Joaquin County in a coordinated and collaborative effort to reduce emissions from air pollution sources identified by the air district and the community steering committee.