What is building electrification?

By Jeanne Brown

Building Electrification is the term used when converting all your energy uses to electricity rather than natural gas. “Natural” gas is almost 95 % methane. Methane has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 28-36 times that of CO2. San Diego’s Climate Action Plan’s goals will not be achieved without cutting this fuel from our energy budget.So let’s look at how we can achieve this. The most logical change is to make sure that new construction doesn’t include the installation of gas infrastructure.  That will save money in construction, will make those communities safer from explosions and they will never have the inevitable expense of conversion to all-electric. For the rest of us, what could we be doing?

Induction Cooking: This is not your mother’s electric stove! A number of groups, including the Sierra Club and the San Diego Green Building Council, have a free 3-week Induction cooktop trial. Try www.ehomecooktops.com. The scare tactics are that you have to go out and buy a whole new expensive set of cookware. My cast-iron pans worked as well as my wok and one of my fry pans.  It was as sensitive as gas, if not more so. Gas stoves combust and release pollutants to our homes. Children who live in homes with gas stoves have a 42% increase in asthmatic symptoms and a 24% increase in being diagnosed with asthma.

Heat pump heating and air-conditioning: Electric heat pumps move warm air from outside to the inside for heating, and from inside to the outside for air conditioning. They are many times more efficient than natural gas. In San Diego with our relatively mild climate, heat pumps work very well. 

Heat pump water heaters: These water heaters are extremely efficient for electrification as well.There is a $500 instant rebate from SDG&E for changing to a heat-pump water heater and a $300 tax credit from the IRS.

Electric Clothes drying: Electric clothes dryers are one solution. A clothesline is another. The electric dryers vary in efficiency and whether they require 120V or 240V.

Are you a renter and don’t have control over any of this?  What can you do? (1) Be sure to support Community Choice Energy that will allow us to have the choice of clean renewable electricity. (2) Continue your membership with SD 350. San Diego 350 is a founding member of the San Diego Building Electrification Coalition. (3) Volunteer to help us change the codes in cities around our county.There is also more legislation coming from Sacramento. SB 1477 provides $50 million in annual incentives through 2023 to jumpstart the market for clean, low- emission heating technologies.  California’s updated building code requires all new single-family and low-rise apartment homes in the state to have access to renewable electricity. This is the perfect time for us to begin to electrify our homes and businesses.

Want to get involved with electrifying the county? Volunteer at info@sdbec.orgwww.sdbec.org
@SDBECoalition on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Celebrating Pride 2021

By Mel Viloria

San Diego Pride, best known for the San Diego Pride Parade and Festival—the largest civic-event in San Diego—also operates as a year-round education and advocacy organization, providing over 30 programs such as Youth Leadership Academy, She Fest, Transgender Day of Empowerment, QAPIMEDA & Latinx Coalitions, Art of Pride, DevOUT and more (if you are in any part of the LGBTQ+ community, there is a space for you in our organization). In addition to our annual festivities, San Diego Pride has donated over 3 million dollars to LGBTQ-serving nonprofits through our Pride Community Grants, making us one of the most philanthropic Pride organizations in the world.

While COVID-19 has prevented us from putting on our normal celebration, we hosted over 38 community events in the month of July 2021, ensuring that our community can celebrate together, but in smaller, limited capacity satellite events. You can view the full list here. On Sunday, July 11, we hosted our Resilient Community march, highlighting that our community has made it out of multiple pandemics, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and COVID, while acknowledging that Black trans women are still being murdered at a disproportionately higher rate, and thus, our work for equality is far from over. The Black LGBTQ Coalition, Latinx Coalition, and QAPIMEDA coalitions led the Resilient March last weekend to the tune of 16,000~ attendees that marched from Balboa Park to the Hillcrest Pride flag.

July Member of the Month

Steven Gelb works on the SD350 Transportation Team. We interviewed him to learn more about his valuable contributions to our mission.

How did you first get involved with SD350, and when was that?
Until recently I was involved with the Alternatives to Violence Project co-facilitating workshops with inmates in California state prisons and volunteering at the immigrant/refugee shelter run by Jewish Family Service. When the pandemic arrived those programs closed down.  Last summer, I participated in a SD350 webinar on transportation and afterward received an invitation to join the transportation committee. Bee reached out to me and spoke of the need to have a transportation team member be a liaison to BikeSD. As a passionate advocate of bicycling for transportation and member of BikeSD (and many other bicycle organizations) I was happy to be that person.

What drives your activism?
I have a personal need to be of service to the larger collective we all belong to. It’s a special joy for me to work together with others in a spirit of generosity and community.  The enormity of the climate emergency motivates me to work for the sake of my grandchildren and all life on this planet.

What do you recommend to people who want to have a larger impact through the environmental movement? What do you prioritize in your own activism? 
I honestly don’t feel like I’ve been in the movement long enough to advise others. But I do know that growing a movement is crucial and I admire the democratic, inclusive, and supportive culture of SD350.  I’ve learned from SD350 members with more experience and knowledge, not only about technical issues related to climate change, but also about the political context and how to negotiate it to good effect. It’s not enough to be right on the issues. We have to draw in more people to work with us and build relationships with people who are indifferent or working for the status quo..

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
As a teenager I went to the August 28, 1963, March on Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. That experience has had a lasting influence..

An Interview with Community Organizer Joshua Piedra

Joshua Piedra works at the intersection of labor and environment—a critical area when building coalitions to enact change. We interviewed him to gain more insights into the work he does to further the movement.

What first got you interested in environmental causes? And how do you think that your current work reflects that inspiration?
I developed an interest in environmental issues as I grew up living in communities of color in South Park and City Heights. My family and our neighborhoods have historically been underinvested in and lacked support due to systemic racism. These experiences have made me an advocate centered on equity. A part of my advocacy puzzle is uplifting environmental causes. Effectively addressing the impacts of pollution on our communities, unsustainable infrastructure, and inaccessible community-resources requires that we look at policy through an environmental justice lens. I am currently working as a political organizer at a local labor union and I think that advocating for workers does not stop at uplifting wages and workers’ rights, it also includes ensuring that workers as community members have all the resources they need to thrive in their communities. I believe that our community will not be able to thrive without addressing climate change.

You probably spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between labor and environmental issues. What do you think is most promising about the current collaboration between those causes, and what do you think could still use some work?
As a region, there has been a progressive shift, a direct result of the hard work of coalitions of community organizations and labor unions. I think this will continue to grow stronger and result in more progressive policies. That being said, there is still a lot of change left to work on. For instance, our society reinforces the belief that there is a distinction between work life and private life. This is not true. For example, policies that uplift worker protections and rights but that don’t address climate change, negatively impact families and our community. At the same time, when policies address climate change but do not uplift worker protections and rights, they also negatively impact families and communities. Fundamentally, community members are also workers with their own lives but these two aspects are heavily intertwined and not separate entities. Our communities will not thrive without equitable policies that holistically uplift the needs of workers and address environmental issues.  

What role do you think questions of climate justice, especially understood intersectionally, have to play in organizing?
Climate justice is the understanding that our current relationship with the environment is negatively impacting the wellbeing of the planet and in turn is harmful to our society. For example, relying on nonrenewable energy sources has led to an increase in pollution and severe weather conditions. These conditions increase health disparities and decrease access to healthy nutrition in our communities, create unmanageable workloads and dangerous working conditions for workers, and puts all of our well-being at risk as a result of stronger storms and frequent wildfires. Whether we like it or not, climate has a direct impact on our communities and we have a direct impact on our climate. If we do not create policies that center equity and holistically address the needs of workers and climate justice, then we only create situations where communities face more barriers to thriving.

Lastly, what advice would you give activists and organizers who are interested in bridging the divides between labor movements and environmental movements? 
We live in a racist and classist system that intentionally makes it difficult for our communities to survive. While climate change will undoubtedly have irreparable harm on our future and communities, a lot of people are currently overworked, underpaid, and too worried about meeting their immediate needs to think about the future or lasting impacts. Everyday people are worried about having enough money for rent, food, healthcare, meeting their children’s needs, and so on. Climate justice is a key piece of the puzzle in order to meet the needs of our communities. If we want to bridge the divide between the labor movement and environmental movement, we have to center people and uplift their stories so that we can create holistic policies that are equitable and address the dangers of climate change. 

Celebrating Juneteenth

By Lorenzo Nericcio

Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the day, June 19th, 1865, that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Texas to inform the city that the war had ended, and that slaves could no longer legally be held by their enslavers. Though President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years before, the Union could not enforce it in the South until the war was won. 

In the century and a half that followed, the celebration has grown from a local tradition to a national holiday, one that is celebrated annually with feasts, parades, festivals, and prayer.

While the celebration remains an important reminder that a large portion of Americans remained unfree until very recently (and, to be sure, many still remain unfree to this day), and a joyous celebration of the end of legal enslavement, the holiday has seen renewed vitality in recent years. 

The uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement especially brought attention to Juneteenth’s importance. The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others have underscored the fact that the fight for justice for the Black community is ongoing, and systemic racism continues to be an active and destructive force in the lives of millions of Americans. Juneteenth, while always a day of celebration, also serves as a call to continue the emancipatory efforts that began centuries ago.

SD350 would like to wish all celebrating members of the Black community a happy Juneteenth, and invite our non-Black members to consider the ways in which they can be better allies in the continuing fight for justice. Our commitment to a just and equitable solution to climate change is inseparable from our commitment to racial justice. To support the empowerment of Black communities, consider donating to the San Diego ACLU chapter, or one of the charities in this list.

Member of the Month: Susan Duerksen

This month, we are featuring Susan Duerksen of the Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Team, to find out what she prioritizes in her environmental advocacy. 

How did you first get involved with SD350, and when was that?

I don’t remember when I first became a SD350 member, but I got actively involved as a volunteer after I retired from the Center on Policy Initiatives in early 2019.

What drives your activism?

As a secular humanist, I believe we humans are responsible for taking care of each other and the planet. I believe in science, so I’m terrified of the destruction ahead if we don’t change how we treat the earth. I’m also outraged at the destruction already happening to the people around the world who are least to blame for the problem and have the least resources. We have to stop letting corporate capitalism call the shots, always putting profit ahead of human life.

What do you recommend to people who want to have a larger impact through the environmental movement? What do you prioritize in your own activism?

I recommend everybody read as much as you can on the intersection of racial/economic justice with climate – and the importance of unifying efforts. And join the SD350 JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion) team!  The climate crisis is overwhelming, obviously, so just pick one part of it to work on and dive in!  Maybe try something that stretches you beyond your usual realm, for the excitement of learning. I started out helping with SD350 communications, because that’s what I know from my career, but switched to focusing on the JEDI work.  I also have deep respect for everyone working on public policy, which is essential for major change.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

I love fuyu persimmons and have a ton of kumquats and lemons to trade. 

I’m a brutal editor, so please accept my apologies if I ever work with you on writing something, or have in the past. I mean well.

Update: Last Call for the Franchise Agreements

By Heather Hofshi, leader of SanDiego350’s Franchise Committee

By now many of you have heard that Mayor Gloria’s flawed franchise agreements with SDG&E have passed the first round of voting at the City Council. The second and final vote is slated for Tuesday, June 8th, and we urge everyone to turn out and let the mayor and council know that San Diego deserves better. 

So how did we get here? And where are we going next? 

The last energy franchise agreements, which give a utility company the right to use city streets and other property for their infrastructure, and give it a monopoly on providing gas and electricity, were signed in 1970 and expired in 2020. Mayor Faulconer had issued an ITB, an invitation for any qualified energy company to bid, for the new franchise agreements. When the bidding process ran up against the elections last year, then-Council President Gomez put off opening the bids until the new council could be sworn in.

The only bid was from San Diego Gas & Electric, subsidiary of fossil fuel giant Sempra Energy. As our franchisee for the last century, SDG&E has consistently fought any attempts to transition to renewable energy and deal with climate change, charged the highest rates in the state, and repeatedly broken faith with the city in pursuit of their profits. 

The bid was immediately deemed non-responsive by the new mayor, due to the massive changes the corporation demanded. Mayor Gloria instead initiated his own process, which included an early public feedback effort. Many members of SanDiego350, our allies, and the community showed up and consistently demanded:

  • A short term, preferably five years
  • Lower rates for ratepayers and families, especially in communities of concern
  • A strong Right to Purchase clause or “off-ramp”
  • Stronger accountability measures, including penalties
  • Strong commitments to partnering with the City to achieve 100% renewable energy
  • A Climate Equity Fund to invest in communities of concern
  • A serious commitment from the City to explore public power

The terms of Gloria’s new ITB, unfortunately, did not reflect the views of the community. And SDG&E submitted, not a contract with clear terms, but a memo pledging to work with the mayor’s office to negotiate one. Off into the backroom they went. They emerged with a deal broadly similar to Faulconer’s, despite Gloria’s insistence that it was vastly superior.

Of course, as in any business deal, the devil’s in the details, and these devils were particularly wicked:

  • A twenty year deal: ten years with an automatic ten-year extension, complete with a requirement that the City repay millions of dollars if it voted against the extension
  • A supermajority required to vote down the extension
  • No commitment to abide by the city’s Climate Action Plan
  • A payment structure that allows SDG&E to stretch the payments for their ten-year bid over twenty years– and if we leave, they never have to pay the full amount
  • No resolution to the ongoing litigation between the City and SDG&E
  • No payments into the City’s Climate Equity Fund until 2037
  • Climate Equity Fund payments of a mere $20 million over four years, a pittance compared to what SDG&E makes off of city residents

It came to the City Council for the first vote on May 25th. Unfortunately, despite nearly every councilmember and the mayor admitting in their comments that the deal was not a good one for San Diego, it did pass the first vote. Councilmember Elo-Rivera (D9), who had previously cast himself as a champion for both disadvantaged communities and the environment, broke with the other progressive councilmembers to vote in favor of the deal. However, we were excited and grateful to see Councilmembers LaCava, Montgomery Steppe, and Moreno stand up for their constituents and vote no.

Thanks to sustained efforts by our amazing volunteers and everyone who wrote or called in to the council meeting, we were able to move a few Councilmembers to demand some amendments:

  • Climate Equity Fund payments moved up to the first years of the agreements
  • A public power feasibility study in 2022
  • A fund to hold the necessary penalty fees aside in case the City opts to leave
  • A solar access fund, overseen by the City’s Environment Committee, revised to ‘at least’ (instead of ‘up to’) $10M

None of these provisions will happen by themselves. It will be up to us to help keep SDG&E and the City Council accountable for the promises they’ve made. Contact me (Heather) to get involved.

So what’s next? The final vote for this bad deal is slated for June 8th, 2021. Right now is our chance to stand up and let the council, the mayor, and this dirty fossil fuel corporation know exactly where we stand! 

  • If you live in Districts 1, 4, or 8, contact your councilmember and thank them for doing the right thing for San Diegans, and urge them to stand strong
  • If you live in Districts 5, 7, or 9, call and remind your councilmember of the promises they made when we voted for them– all ran on environmental and justice values that they are not living out
  • If you live anywhere in San Diego, make your voice heard! Write or call in to the council meeting, write a letter to the editor of your favorite newspaper, and spread the word on social media. 
  • Find your council district and how to contact your councilmember here.

Find our toolkit with call-in instructions and talking points here!

Thanks to everyone in our amazing community who have carried us this far. Let’s keep going and get San Diego the green future it deserves.

Celebrating Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Today and everyday, SanDiego350 strives to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and climate injustice. Wondering how you can help? Check out a few ideas below.

Get involved 

With more than 14 teams and coalitions, SanDiego350 has an opportunity for everyone. Fill out the volunteer interest form and commit to getting involved. 

Meatless Mondays 

Livestock production contributes an estimated 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities — more than the entire transportation sector. Learn about how going meatless even once a week can make a difference here.

Swap single use plastics 

Replacing plastic bags and water bottles is a great place to start, but what about toothbrushes, soap containers, and food storage? Find inspiration here. 

Go thrifting

Did you know the fashion industry is the second largest consumer industry of water according to a UN report? Next time you need a new look, visit a local thrift store!

Start a garden 

There are many environmental benefits to planting your own garden. Find out which plants will thrive in your backyard or window box then get to growing! 

Attend an event

SanDiego350 hosts a variety of events, including webinars, rallies, book clubs and more. Check out our upcoming events to RSVP today!

Watch a documentary 

We’ve been in quarantine long enough that you’re looking for something new to watch right? We recommend Purple Mountains or The True Cost

Plan to actually bike and/or use public transportation more often

Did you know that the Metropolitan Transit System approved a plan to convert San Diego’s bus fleet to all zero-emissions vehicles by 2040? There are already several green buses in action; find the right route for you! 

Read more

Climate change is a complex, intersectional issue and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the information. Check out Earthday’s list of book recommendations to dig deeper on a range of topics.

Donate to support the Youth4Climate program 

Support SanDiego350’s youth fellowship program! We work to empower and engage youth throughout the region and they’re accomplishing incredible things. Learn more and donate to the program here. 

These suggestions probably sound familiar; we all know plastics are bad for the environment, right? But my challenge for you is to make these long term practices instead of just one time Earth Day actions. If this last year has shown us anything, we know that when we work together and advocate for change, we can make a difference. Commit to taking action today!

Can San Diego County Reach Zero Carbon by 2035?

By Lorenzo Nericcio, Newsletter Editor

With a progressive-leaning, newly-elected San Diego County Board of Supervisors, there is hope for an ambitious new plan: a zero-carbon San Diego County by 2035. The County will work with UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy to get the plan moving, which involves transitioning the County toward more sustainable sources of transportation, sustainable housing, and a general push for environmental justice. 

SanDiego350 is helping to craft the policies and proposals that will make this effort possible—and, importantly, equitable for all San Diegans. 

David Harris of the Policy Team had this to say, “We applaud the Board for its commitment to bold climate action and encourage the supervisors to adopt a new Climate Action Plan to demonstrate how they plan to meet this ambitious target of zero carbon by 2035 […] To reduce San Diego County’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035, our elected leaders must focus on decarbonizing on-road transportation, electricity, and natural gas in buildings. These three sectors account for 78% of the County’s carbon emissions. This plan must center climate and equity, what we call a ‘just transition’, while also establishing aggressive targets to reduce emissions.”

SanDiego350’s priorities, thoroughly outlined in a letter to the County Planning & Development Services department, include the following areas of importance:

  • Sustainable built environment and transportation, including improved land use, expanded public transit, and incentives for telecommuting
  • Renewable energy, including microgrids with battery storage, and expanding electrification of new building projects
  • Sustainable food supply that incentivizes purchasing and producing less carbon-intensive foods
  • Consumption-based GHG inventory to assess the lifecycle of carbon and other greenhouse gasses originating from within the County. 
  • Social equity plans, including a Climate Equity Index built to advocate for a just distribution of renewable energy and other green advancements

As the County’s ambitious plans continue to take shape, SanDiego350 will continue to advocate for sustainable, equitable, and just development.

Celebrating Black History Month: Statements from Black Environmental Leaders

In order to honor Black History Month, SanDiego350 reached out to leading Black environmentalists we work with. We asked for statements on their work, what they find important, and asked for their perspective on what environmental movements can do to better prioritize racial justice. 

Clockwise from upper left: Maria Muhammad, San Diego Urban Sustainability Coalition; Tianna Arredondo, 350.org  California/Hawaii Regional Organizer; Marcus Bush, City Council Member, National City; Rachal Hamilton, Justice & Equity Intern, SanDiego350 .

As San Diego strives to grow in sustainable ways, what efforts should policymakers prioritize to ensure growth is inclusive? 

Maria Muhammad, SD Urban Sustainability Coalition

My father has a saying, folks pay for what they want and beg for what they need

I have observed nothing greater in my lifetime than the lengths people will go for what they want. 

What do this city and its policymakers truly want? Do they desire inclusivity? Are they actually prepared to do the incredible work necessary for inclusivity? Inclusivity requires true grit. It requires getting beyond the rhetoric and hashtags and getting to the root cause of exclusion, a white supremacist ideology.  

If policymakers are committed to striving toward a more sustainable future, the deconstruction of white supremacy has to be at the forefront of their agendas.  That laborious task will surely bring about resistance, misunderstandings, mistakes, human frailty, and excruciatingly uncomfortable conversations.  

The process of deconstructing white supremacy will also require long hours.  This will, of course, lead to bigger budgets, but the benefits of inclusion will ultimately have a positive impact on our collective prosperity. Inclusivity will allow our city to be more competitive regionally, nationally, and globally.  There can be no sustainable growth when a city suffers from social, economic, and political desertification.  

When policymakers prioritize their efforts with collaboration, listening deeply, transparency, accountability, funding, and popular education; we all have the chance to get what we want, leaving none of us having to beg for what we need.  

As a National City councilmember, what environmentally-focused changes would you prioritize for the county? What plans are currently underway? 

Marcus Bush, National City City Council Member

National City is one of the most environmentally-challenged cities in the county, particularly when it comes to air pollution, as we suffer some of the highest rates of asthma. This past week I was appointed by Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and the County officials to represent the South Bay region on the newly-expanded Air Pollution Control District of San Diego County. One of my priorities will be addressing air pollution and emissions by reducing vehicle-miles traveled and supporting alternatives to driving, including walking, biking, and public transit. This is also critical to addressing the climate crisis and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why I strongly support SANDAG’s new efforts to overhaul the Regional Transportation Plan with bold investments to expand regional transit. 

We as regional leaders also need to support infill housing and job growth around transit stations, while opposing new sprawl development projects in our backcountry and sensitive habitat. More resources are needed for habitat preservation and restoration projects throughout the County.

What drives you to contribute to the environmental movement? What changes would you like to see in it?

Rachal Hamilton, Justice & Equity Intern, SanDiego350 

My experience as a young Black girl who grew up in the midwest really pushed me to understand the impact that environmental racism has on lower-income Black communities. I believe that one’s environment is the biggest factor in their overall mental and physical wellness and that free access to clean resources and basic needs is undoubtedly a human right. I am driven to do my part in the fight for environmental justice because I know that there are so many low-income, Black populations across the globe and the United States that are facing climate injustice due to systems of racism. I believe that in order for the environmental movement to truly begin breaking down these systems, they must unlearn the anti-blackness that has been taught throughout the history of this work, and use an intersectional lens for their activism.

Are there currently any ways that environmental activists in general—or 350 in particular—could improve our work in racial justice? What would you suggest people do to prioritize justice more in their activism? 

Tianna Arredondo, 350.org  California/Hawaii Regional Organizer

To improve racial justice, 350 local groups can prioritize listening and connecting as humans first. We will always have a strategy to create or a plan to adjust. What we won’t have unless we make time for it – is space to listen to one another and connect with one another. The more that we listen to each other and take time to be accountable to one another’s needs –  the more we can get into a practice of reciprocity and begin to cultivate integrity based relationships that allow for trust building. We need to learn to prove our reliability to one another so that we can trust one another’s commitment to racial justice.