Environmental Justice Framework and General Plan Policies
A part of the General Plan Updates
Project status: Completed
Advancing Healthy Communities
San Francisco is working to ensure all residents and workers live in and enjoy healthy, sustainable, and equitable environments. The Planning Commission adopted the Environmental Justice Framework in 2023 to establish a clear set of visions and priorities to advance health in communities of color and low-income communities. These City commitments were developed in collaboration with Environmental Justice Communities. The Environmental Justice Framework is incorporated by reference in the General Plan Introduction.
What Is Environmental Justice (EJ)?
Communities and governments have defined environmental justice in many ways. The Planning Department developed the following definition, refined during the community engagement process:
The equitable distribution of environmental benefits and the elimination of environmental burdens to promote healthy communities where all San Franciscans can thrive. Government can foster environmental justice through processes that address, mitigate, and amend past injustices while enabling proactive, community-led solutions for the future.
The term “environmental racism” recognizes that American Indian, Black, and other communities of color have historically borne the brunt of environmental burdens and poor health through intentional and systemically racist actions. These same communities have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the social, economic, and health impacts of the disease have disproportionately impacted communities of color. This is why our environmental justice work is being coordinated with the Planning Department’s Racial and Social Equity Action Plan.
California Senate Bill (SB) 1000 requires that cities and counties adopt policies in their General Plan to address environmental justice. In response, the City developed an Environmental Justice Framework to identify key visions and priorities and related General Plan policies.
San Francisco developed environmental justice policies in these areas, adapted from SB 1000:
- Healthy and Resilient Environments
- Physical Activity and Healthy Public Facilities
- Healthy Food Access
- Safe, Healthy and Affordable Homes
- Equitable and Green Jobs
- Empowered Neighborhoods
Environmental Justice Framework and and the City’s General Plan
The Environmental Justice Framework outlines a set of visions and priorities to be incorporated into the City’s General Plan. It lives in the General Plan Introduction to ensure environmental justice is integrated throughout the Elements. It also includes guidance to City agencies and other stakeholders on how they can address environmental justice in their work.
Beyond the Environmental Justice Framework, policies are being incorporated into the various General Plan Elements in subsequent updates. The first set of policies are found in the Safety & Resilience Element (adopted December 2022) and Housing Element (adopted January 2023). Additional updates will be incorporated in the Transportation Element (currently underway) and other General Plan Elements.
- Environmental Justice Working Group: Supplemental Policy Recommendations
- Outreach and Engagement Summary for the Environmental Justice Framework
- Environmental Justice Communities Map: Technical Documentation
- Environmental Justice Communities Map: User Guide
Final Adopted Materials
Planning Commission: Adoption
An adoption hearing is the Planning Commission’s consideration of the draft amendments. If approved, the draft amendments are forwarded as a proposal to the Board of Supervisors for their consideration of adoption.
- Executive Summary
- Exhibit A: Adoption Draft of the Environmental Justice Framework
- Exhibit B: Adoption Draft of the General Plan Introduction
- Exhibit C: Environmental Review
- Exhibit D: Draft Ordinance
- Exhibit E: Draft Resolution
- Exhibit F: Environmental Justice Communities Map: Technical Documentation (Updated for Adoption)
- Exhibit G: Outreach and Engagement Summary for the Environmental Justice Framework (Updated for Adoption)
- Exhibit H: Letter of Support from the Office of Resilience and Capital Planning
- Exhibit I: Letter of Support from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Planning Commission: Initiation
An initiation hearing is a public announcement of the Planning Commission’s initiation to consider adoption.
- Executive Summary
- Exhibit A: Initiation Draft of the Environmental Justice Framework (Proposed for Adoption)
- Exhibit B: Initiation Draft of the General Plan Introduction (Proposed for Adoption)
- Exhibit C: Draft Initiation Resolution
- Exhibit D: Draft Ordinance for Proposed General Plan Amendment
- Exhibit E: Environmental Justice Communities Map: Technical Documentation
- Exhibit F: Outreach and Engagement Summary for the Environmental Justice Framework
An informational hearing is an overview presentation of the work to date.
Planning Commission on October 7, 2021
Planning Commission on January 5, 2023
Environment Commission on February 7, 2023
Human Rights Commission on February 9, 2023
The Environmental Justice Communities Map (“EJ Communities Map”) describes areas of San Francisco that have higher pollution and are predominately low-income. This map is based on CalEnviroScreen, a tool created by CalEPA& OEHHA that maps California communities that are most affected by pollution and other health risks. This EJ Communities Map includes additional local data on pollution and demographics, and was refined during the community engagement process based on public feedback.
“EJ Communities” are defined as the areas facing the top one-third of cumulative environmental and socioeconomic burdens across the City. The EJ Communities include areas of Bayview Hunters Point, Chinatown, Excelsior, Japantown, Mission, Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside, Outer Mission, Potrero Hill, SoMa, Tenderloin, Treasure Island, Visitacion Valley, and Western Addition.
Click on the Data Portal tab for an interactive map showing data on various health, economic, and social conditions in these neighborhoods.
For more information on the EJ Communities Map and methodology:
The Environmental Justice Framework built upon over two years of outreach and engagement with the community and City partners. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all activities were conducted virtually. The outreach and engagement activities focused on collaborating with and uplifting the voices of those most impacted by environmental injustice.
Environmental Justice Focus Groups
There were six focus groups in October to December 2022 to hear from the lived experiences of residents and workers in EJ Communities. These focus groups were co-hosted by community-based organizations and Giuliana Martinez of GM Consulting Group. The focus groups were organized by geography and/or language to reach community members who are often overlooked in community outreach and engagement.
We are grateful to have partnered with:
- Promotoras Activas de San Francisco
- Carnaval San Francisco (CANA)
- Booker T. Washington Community Service Center
- Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
- City of Dreams
- Wu Yee Children’s Services
Environmental Justice Working Group
The Environmental Justice Working Group was a group of community and City government leaders who collaborated to co-create policy recommendations for the EJ Framework, identify community needs and assets, and provide feedback on specific needs for its implementation. The Working Group met on a monthly basis from June to January 2022.
The Working Group developed a list of Policy Recommendations for the City to consider as part of the Environmental Justice Framework and future updates to the General Plan, which can also serve as a guide for City agencies and partners seeking to improve environmental justice.
- Meeting 1 Summary - June 21, 2021
- Meeting 2 Summary - July 19, 2021
- Meeting 3 Summary - August 16, 2021
- Meeting 4 Summary - September 20, 2021
- Meeting 5 Summary - October 25, 2021
- Meeting 6 Summary - November 15, 2021
- Meeting 7 Summary - December 13, 2021
- Meeting 8 Summary - January 24, 2022
The Working Group was intentionally created to include both community leaders representing the neighborhoods most impacted by environmental justice, and staff from City agencies that have environmental justice programs and/or oversee relevant work. The goal is to create a space where diverse perspectives and solutions can be discussed, with the ultimate goal of identifying shared priorities and actions that would have the greatest impact in advancing environmental justice, racial and social equity, and health across San Francisco.
The roster of Working Group members is below. The community members were selected in Spring 2021, after a public application period.
EJ Working Group Members
|Giuliana Martinez (Facilitator)
|GM Consulting Group
|American Indian Cultural District
|Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates
|Chinatown Community Development Center
|Kasey Rios Asberry
|Demonstration Gardens – Tenderloin Peoples Congress
|Chester Kyle Williams
|Fillmore Media Systems & Services Co.
|Japantown Cultural District
|PODER (People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights)
|Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
|Residents Supporting Community On Treasure Island
|Irene Mahasin Thomas-Jacks
|San Francisco African American Faith Base Coalition
|San Francisco Parks Alliance
|San Francisco Transit Riders
|Sistah Music Snax Entertainment
|Southwest Community Corporation
|Rev. Ishmael Burch Jr.
|St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church
|San Francisco Department of Public Health
|San Francisco Department of the Environment
|San Francisco Human Rights Commission
|San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
|San Francisco Office of Resilience and Capital Planning
|San Francisco Planning Department
|San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
|San Francisco Public Works
|San Francisco Recreation and Park Department
|SF Planning Project Team
|SF Planning Project Team
|SF Planning Project Team
|SF Planning Project Team
|SF Planning Project Team
General Plan Virtual Events
The Planning Department hosted a two-week outreach and engagement event, the General Plan Virtual Events, to support multiple concurrent updates to the General Plan. The Virtual Events explored the role of the General Plan and the updates that are being made, and provided an opportunity to share ideas that San Francisco can take to achieve an equitable, livable, and sustainable future.
Click here to watch our recording of the Environmental Justice Framework workshops held at the General Plan Virtual Events on March 17 & March 25, 2021.
The Planning Department also solicited feedback through the following methods:
- Youth engagement, in partnership with SFUSD elementary and high school classes and San Francisco State University
- Key stakeholder interviews
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the San Francisco General Plan?
The General Plan provides a comprehensive set of objectives and policies that influence how we live, work, and move about, as well as the quality and character of the City. The General Plan reflects community values and priorities through its public adoption process, ensuring both private development and public action conform to this vision. The General Plan helps shape our daily lives, respond to today’s big challenges, and lead us to a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy future that enables all San Franciscans to thrive.
What is the Environmental Justice Framework?
The Environmental Justice (EJ) Framework provides a set of visions and priorities to be incorporated into the City’s General Plan. The first such policies can be found in the Safety & Resilience Element (December 2022), Housing Element (January 2023), and the Transportation Element (currently undergoing updates). It also includes guidance to City agencies and other stakeholders on how they can address environmental justice in their work. The EJ Framework fulfills the requirements of SB 1000, as well as directives by the Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission to address racial & social equity.
What will the Environmental Justice Framework do – and not do?
The Environmental Justice Framework establishes a set of visions and priorities that will influence how the City advances health in communities of color and low-income communities that face higher pollution and other health risks. These strategies were developed in collaboration with leaders from the communities most impacted by environmental injustices, targeting neighborhoods identified in the EJ Communities Map (see next question for more details).
While the Framework does not directly create new programming or funding resources, it guides and promotes the development of actions and policies that agencies can undertake to advance our Environmental Justice goals. It can also inform City agencies’ Racial Equity Action Plans and related programs (such as the environmental justice programs at San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and San Francisco Department of the Environment, among others).