OurCounty Sustainability Plan Honored for Excellence in Sustainability by American Planning Association
The American Planning Association has honored Los Angeles County with the Award of Excellence in Sustainability for its groundbreaking 2019 OurCounty Sustainability Plan. The organization annually awards the Excellence in Sustainability Prize to municipal, state, or regional public agencies across the nation for plans that demonstrate how planning helps to create stronger, more equitable communities.
The OurCounty Sustainability Plan was developed in a collaborative process that included hundreds of stakeholders, thousands of hours of equity-centered dialogue, substantial research, and cutting-edge analyses in a process led by the County’s Chief Sustainability Office. Over the course of two years, the County took a comprehensive, community-based approach to crafting the nation’s most ambitious regional sustainability plan that is bold, inclusive, and sets a vision for the present and future generations of Los Angeles.
“Our communities are counting on us, now more than ever, to realize the goals of the OurCounty Sustainability Plan,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Historically, we know that low income neighborhoods and communities of color have suffered the most from pollution and environmental hazards. Representatives of these same communities made sure that the County’s plan is centered around equity and environmental justice. Now, it is our turn to deliver on the plan’s multifaceted approach. By lowering air pollution along freeways, ensuring safe, clean water, and eliminating single use plastics, we can make our communities’ vision a reality.”
“We’re proud and grateful for this recognition, which we share with the hundreds of stakeholders who challenged us to make OurCounty the most ambitious regional sustainability plan anywhere,” said Fesia Davenport, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer. “It is a special honor to share this award with the community-based organizations that led the equity-focused engagement process that produced our sustainability roadmap.”
Unlike other sustainability plans, the OurCounty plan is unique in its regional focus as it moves to confront a wide range of environmental, social and economic challenges. The plan’s goals and milestones include:
- Powering unincorporated areas and County facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025
- Increasing urban tree canopy coverage by 15% by 2035
- Diverting more than 95% of waste from landfills
- Developing land-use tools to limit new development in high climate-hazard areas
- Phasing out single-use plastic by 2025 to ensure a cleaner ocean and less landfill waste
- Cutting back on imported water by sourcing 80 percent of water locally by 2045
- Ensuring that all residents have safe and clean drinking water, and that rivers, lakes and the ocean meet federal water quality standards
- Leading efforts to make sure that at least 65% of new housing is built within 1/2 mile of high frequency transit by 2035
- Supporting construction of more than half a million affordable housing units by 2045 to improve public health and community sustainability.
The American Planning Association will bestow the 2021 APA Sustainable Communities Division Award for Excellence in Sustainability in the Municipal, State, or Regional Plan category to the County in a virtual ceremony on June 17, 2021 The County will share the honor with BuroHappold Engineering and the five community-based partners who served as integral members of the OurCounty Sustainability Plan stakeholder engagement team: East Yard Communities for a Better Environment, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), Pacoima Beautiful, Communities for a Better Environment, and Day One. The award recognizes the visionary stakeholder engagement process employed by the County to center equity by integrating community vision into a sustainability plan.
Community leaders engaged in the OurCounty Sustainability Plan said the recognition honored an innovative, inclusive process that put communities first.
“OurCounty reflected our voices, the voices of the community. The County’s process is a new model that other agencies should follow when establishing long-term goals that directly impact communities. We look forward to working with County Sustainability Office and other departments to achieve tangible and timely results based on the goals and targets to benefit all residents.”—Darryl Molina Sarmiento, Communities for a Better Environment Executive Director
“Often times, communities like ours are not part of the process or just don’t know how to be engaged. The OurCounty Sustainability Plan process flipped that dynamic around and instead let the communities lead.”—Veronica Padilla-Campos, Pacoima Beautiful Executive Director
“Building authentic partnerships with community-based organizations like ours ensured that an inclusive and equitable process was in place—a process that captured diverse, local voices from all members of our community. Those ideas, visions, and priorities are at the heart of this plan and help guide its progress."—Christy Zamani, Day One Executive Director
“When government fully values partnership with community organizations, you end up with a plan that’s not only more inclusive, but also more representative of what our community needs to look like.”—Jan Victor Andasan, Member & Organizer for East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
“This plan not only set ambitious goals for advancing sustainability, but it did so in a way that centered communities like South Los Angeles in that ambition. We have much work to do to help make it reality, but we are ready to move it forward to protect the health and economic mobility of our members.”—Gloria Medina, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education, Interim Executive Director
BuroHappold Engineering, Liberty Hill Foundation, UCLA, Fehr & Peers, Studio-MLA, Raimi + Associates, and Gladstein, Neandross & Associates provided consulting services to develop the plan.
Matt King, May 77 Communications
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