L.A. Offered $1.6 Million for Pioneering Low-Income Electric Carsharing Program

Pilot Program Offers Clean Transportation to Low-Income Communities to Help Cut Smog, Fight Climate Change, and Fulfill Mandate of SB 1275, the Charge Ahead California Initiative

Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)
Michelle Kinman, Environment California Clean Energy Advocate, 310-621-8935
Bahram Fazeli, Communities for a Better Environment Director of Research & Policy, 323-826-9771 ext. 100
Max Baumhefner, Natural Resources Defense Council Clean Vehicles and Fuels Attorney, 415-875-6100
Fabiola P. Lao, Coalition for Clean Air Deputy Policy Director, 213-223-6868

LOS ANGELES – Following a competitive proposal process, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has offered $1.6 million to the City of Los Angeles to set up a pilot carsharing program for electric vehicles in disadvantaged communities. The grant will fulfill a key mandate of SB 1275, the Charge Ahead California Initiative, enacted last year to make clean transportation more widely available, particularly in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Advocates applauded the pilot as a significant step toward ensuring that Californians of all income levels benefit from the state’s effort to clean the air, reduce our dependence on petroleum, and combat global warming.

The funding was announced this morning at an event held at an affordable housing complex in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, one of the neighborhoods that will be served by the pilot program, which aims to serve 7,000 residents in disadvantaged communities. Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, who authored SB 1275, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, City of Los Angeles Chief Sustainability Officer Matt Petersen and the Charge Ahead California campaign’s Michelle Kinman were among the speakers at today’s event.

The funding for the project comes from polluter fees collected under the state’s climate change law, AB 32. A second law, SB 535, mandates that one quarter of these funds go to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities in highly polluted areas.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem De León, ARB Chair Mary Nichols and Mayor Garcetti, low-income Angelenos will soon have more options for getting from point A to B, all while cleaning up our air, improving public health and protecting our climate,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California. “This pioneering car sharing pilot project has the potential to jumpstart the clean vehicle revolution in diverse communities throughout California and beyond.”

The Charge Ahead California campaign, which worked with Sen. de León to pass SB 1275, is led jointly by five environmental and environmental justice organizations, all of whom applauded today’s award.

Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research and Policy for Communities for a Better Environment, commented, “As an anchor community-based organization for this project, CBE is excited to work with the City of Los Angeles to provide access to clean carsharing vehicles for low-income residents.”

Joel Espino, Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Fellow and author of the report, “Electric Carsharing in Underserved Communities,” noted that Los Angeles followed one of the report’s key recommendations by involving local community-based organizations in developing its proposal. He added, “It’s also important to remember that this award is a piece of California’s larger effort to make sure our fight against climate change brings real benefits to underserved communities. The money for these programs comes from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and thanks to SB 535, at least one quarter of those funds must benefit disadvantaged communities.”

Some of the Charge Ahead California groups also play leadership roles in the SB 535 Coalition, which pursues implementation of the 2012 law, also authored by the Pro Tem, which channels climate funds to the communities suffering the worst effects of pollution and disinvestment.

“Electric carsharing reduces both the need to own cars and the pollution that results from burning fossil fuels,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Clean Vehicles and Fuels Attorney Max Baumhefner. “Combining the shared-used economy and zero-emission vehicles could yield significant cost, air quality, and climate benefits.”

“Disadvantaged and low-income communities are disproportionately burdened by air pollution and a myriad of health impacts,” said Fabiola Lao, Deputy Policy Director at the Coalition for Clean Air. “The electric carsharing pilot project in Los Angeles will increase access for these communities to zero-emission vehicles, which will not only help clean the air and improve public health, but will also help create local jobs as the projects are implemented.”

SB 1275 directs the Air Resources Board to establish a suite of equity programs aimed at making clean cars and trucks accessible to low- and moderate-income Californians. These include electric vehicle carsharing programs in disadvantaged communities, financing options that would lower combined monthly car payments and fuel costs, and incentives for the replacement of gas-guzzling “clunkers” with new or used electric cars or vouchers for transit and car-sharing.