Open Letter: California Emerging

JMJ

To:
The Honorable Gavin Newsom,
Governor of the great state of California
Sacramento, CA

Honorable Sir,

BANNING GASOLINE VEHICLES is a great step in reducing California’s carbon emissions. However, it is not the first step we should be taking. While well-intentioned doing so would only be a pat on the back for the wealthy in our state who can afford non-gasoline vehicles while punishing those who are too poor to afford them. Largely the poor in this case are people of color, farmers, the underemployed, the unjustly underpaid, and persons in the service industries. If this is not to be a purely cosmetic gesture (which may well need to be fought out in the courts and so become a partisan gesture as well) it needs to be preceded by a few very important items:

  1. A statewide system of transportation must be created:
    1. This must include inter- as well as intra-city
    2. This must be affordable, subsidized if not free
    3. This will probably be busses at first but trains should grow up across the state
      1. Look at New Jersey’s Train/Bus System or the entire transportation system around NYC’s ecosystem and think of that as a state-wide goal
  2. You can use the meridian on all freeways and other divided highways as an already-leveled place to build train tracks.
  3. When you are building this system it must be sold in two ways:
    1. As a long-term project towards keeping our state employed and lowering our carbon footprint
    2. When you run your first bus line or train tracks into wealthy, white neighborhoods they will complain about noise and construction. What they are really worried about is poor people being able to get into their locales. YOU MUST CALL BULLSHIT on this when you hear it. This is racism and classism of the worst kind. It is not good. Not at all.
    3. Gonna say it again: you must run bus lines and train tracks into wealthy, white neighborhoods as well as poor areas: transportation makes for a free people.
  4. “Those kind of people ride trains.” WE MUST BE THOSE KIND OF PEOPLE.
    1. There is a perception that cars=freedoms and mass transit is for poor folks
    2. California needs education and public communication around why trains and busses are better for all of us
    3. It is the proper, California thing to do.
  5. Then you can ban cars in the right order.

I do realize you’ve already signed the order, but sir, there are so many steps to take before 2035. WE are California and we create culture here. WE can totally do this with an education campaign that goes beyond mere reaction to climate science into teaching us better ways to inculcate these realities in our daily life.

Respectfully yours,

D. Huw Richardson
San Francisco, California

Author: Huw Richardson

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He has worked in tech (mostly) since 1999 and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.