Disadvantaged communities in California are specifically targeted for investment of proceeds from the state’s Cap-and-Trade Program. These investments are aimed at improving public health, quality of life and economic opportunity in California’s most burdened communities, and at the same time, reducing pollution that causes climate change. The investments are authorized by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32, Nunez, 2016).
In 2012, Senate Bill 535 (De León, Chapter 830, Statutes of 2012) established initial requirements for minimum funding levels to “Disadvantaged Communities” (DACs). The legislation also gives CalEPA the responsibility for identifying those communities, stating that CalEPA’s designation of disadvantaged communities must be based on “geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and environmental hazard criteria.”
In 2016, Assembly Bill 1550 (Gomez, Chapter 369, Statutes of 2016) directed CalEPA to identify DACs and also established the currently applicable minimum funding levels:
- At least 25 percent of funds must be allocated toward DACs
- At least 5 percent must be allocated toward projects within low-income communities or benefiting low-income households
- At least 5 percent must be allocated toward projects within and benefiting low-income communities, or low-income households, that are outside of a CalEPA-defined DAC but within ½ mile of a disadvantaged community
Final Designation of Disadvantaged Communities (May 2022)
After receiving public input at workshops and in written comments, in May 2022, CalEPA released its updated Designation of Disadvantaged Communities for the purpose of SB 535. In this designation, CalEPA formally designated four categories of geographic areas as disadvantaged:
- Census tracts receiving the highest 25 percent of overall scores in CalEnviroScreen 4.0 (1,984 tracts).
- Census tracts lacking overall scores in CalEnviroScreen 4.0 due to data gaps, but receiving the highest 5 percent of CalEnviroScreen 4.0 cumulative pollution burden scores (19 tracts).
- Census tracts identified in the 2017 DAC designation as disadvantaged, regardless of their scores in CalEnviroScreen 4.0 (305 tracts).
- Lands under the control of federally recognized tribes Tribes. For purposes of this designation, a Tribe may establish that a particular area of land is under its control even if not represented as such on CalEPA’s DAC map and therefore should be considered a DAC by requesting a consultation with the CalEPA Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations at TribalAffairs@calepa.ca.gov.
The funds for the DACs come from California Climate Investments. These are proceeds of the State’s Cap-and-Trade Program in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated by the Legislature specifically targeted for investment in disadvantaged communities in California. These funds are aimed at improving public health, quality of life, and economic opportunity in California’s most burdened communities while reducing pollution that causes climate change. These funds must be used for programs that further reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
The designation takes into account the latest and best available data and considers factors related to data unavailability. This designation will go into effect on July 1, 2022, at which point programs funded through California Climate Investments will use the designation in making funding decisions.
Updated Disadvantaged Communities Designation (May 3, 2022)
CalEPA finalized in May 2022 the updated Designation of Disadvantaged Communities, pursuant to Senate Bill 535 (De León, 2012) and based on the recently updated CalEnviroScreen version 4.0. After holding two public workshops and considering all comments submitted on the Preliminary Designation, which was released in October 2021, CalEPA formally designates four categories of geographic areas as disadvantaged:
- Census tracts receiving the highest 25 percent of overall scores in CalEnviroScreen 4.0
- Census tracts lacking overall scores in CalEnviroScreen 4.0 due to data gaps, but receiving the highest 5 percent of CalEnviroScreen 4.0 cumulative pollution burden scores
- Census tracts identified in the 2017 DAC designation, regardless of their scores in CalEnviroScreen 4.0
- Lands under the control of federally recognized Tribes
For detailed explanation of each of the categories, please read the document:
See the interactive map below.
Download SB 535 CalEnviroScreen Data
In addition to the interactive map above, SB 535 disadvantaged communities data is available for download in other formats:
- Download zipped folder: SB 535 Excel Spreadsheet and data dictionary (May 2022).
There are two files in this zipped folder: 1) a spreadsheet showing the list of census tracts identified as disadvantaged communities, a list of the Federally recognized tribal areas identified as disadvantaged communities, and the raw data and calculated percentiles for individual indicators and combined CalEnviroScreen scores for census tracts identified as disadvantaged communities, and 2) a pdf document including the data dictionary.
- Download zipped folder: SB 535 ArcGIS Geodatabase (May 2022): A zipped file which can be unzipped, then opened using ArcGIS software to view the results. (ArcGIS is a paid subscription)
Service URL: ArcGIS feature service
Preliminary SB 535 Identification of Disadvantaged Communities (2021)
It was developed based upon several years of community outreach, public workshops and stakeholder feedback, and with support from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). CalEPA determined that the improvements found in CalEnviroScreen Version 4.0 warranted a reconsideration of designation practices and the eventual issuance of a new designation of disadvantaged communities.
California Climate Investments are administered by state and local agencies for a variety of greenhouse-gas cutting programs, including energy efficiency, public transit, low-carbon transportation and affordable housing. Guidelines written by CARB help these agencies develop programs that meet statutory requirements for reducing emissions while maximizing the benefits to disadvantaged communities.
SB 535 Workshops in 2021
The public was invited to provide feedback by participating in one of two virtual public workshops on the preliminary designation. CalEPA, CARB, and OEHHA staff hosted the following two identical virtual workshops in October 2021 to The SB 535 workshops began with a welcome and brief presentation on CalEPA’s proposal and CalEnviroScreen 4.0, and then staff from State agencies convened multiple breakout rooms for participants to provide input and ask questions. Spanish interpretation and translation of the materials were made available.
Identification of Disadvantaged Communities (2017)
- SB 535 Designation of Disadvantaged Communities (PDF)
- SB 535 Maps of Disadvantaged Communities (PDF)
- SB 535 List of Disadvantaged Communities (Excel, 1.2 MB)
SB 535 Google Earth file: Download Google Earth to view.
- Download the SB 535 KMZ file (KMZ 1.38 MB)
- SB 535 ArcGIS Geodatabase: A zipped file which can be unzipped, then opened using ArcGIS software to view the results. (1.13 MB)
SB 535 & AB 1550 Interactive Maps
- SB 535 & AB 1550 Google Earth file: Download Google Earth to view.
- Download the SB 535 & AB 1550 KMZ file (KMZ 19 MB)
- SB 535 & AB 1550 ArcGIS Geodatabase: A zipped file which can be unzipped, then opened using ArcGIS software to view the results. (16 MB)
- SB 535 Google Earth file: This file is hosted on Google Docs. Download Google Earth to view.
- Download the SB 535 KMZ file (KMZ 1.7 MB)
- SB 535 ArcGIS Geodatabase: A zipped file which can be unzipped, then opened using ArcGIS software to view the results.
Environmental Justice Links
- Environmental Justice Home
- EJ Small Grants Funding -- Oportunidades de Pequeños Subsidios y Financiamiento para Justicia Medio Ambiental
- EJ Small Grant Recipients
- CA Climate Investments for
- Outreach & Engagement Activities
- EJ Task Force
- EJ Publications
- Subscribe to EJ Listserv
- EJ Contacts
- EJ Calendar - CalEPA Sponsored Activities