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Government funding accounts for a large proportion of conservation and environmental improvements, and is often the result of citizen votes on state ballot measures. A key concern surrounding public investments in the environment is whether that funding serves lower-income communities, which are often the communities of greatest need. We applied three statistical methods to analyze the spatial distribution of conservation funding derived from California's Proposition 84, which distributed nearly $4 billion across California between 2006 and 2015. First, we used hurdle models to ask if income, population density, urban coverage, or pollution could explain receipt of grants or magnitude of funding. Second, we compared the income levels of funded and unfunded communities for each chapter of the proposition. Finally, we examine two sections of the proposition that were intended to fund parks around the state and compare the attributes of funded and unfunded communities. Proposition 84 offers lessons for environmental legislation and future research. While there were general tendencies for more funding to flow to poor areas and areas with pollution problems, the language in Proposition 84 as a whole was vague with respect to the funding of disadvantaged areas, and as a result the targeting of these areas overall was at best modest. However, when enabling legislation (AB 31) defined specific "metrics of disadvantage" that had to be met by communities to receive funds from some sections of Proposition 84, the funds did flow much more selectively to poorer communities. This suggests that future ballot measures should be very explicit in their language if they want to promote equity in conservation investments, and that future research should investigate the extent to which technical workshops and outreach could further increase the number of funded grant proposals from low-income communities.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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The process whereby a society changes from a rural to an urban way of life. It refers also to the gradual increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas.
The planned upgrading of a deteriorating urban area, involving rebuilding, renovation, or restoration. It frequently refers to programs of major demolition and rebuilding of blighted areas.
The inhabitants of a city or town, including metropolitan areas and suburban areas.
City, urban, rural, or suburban areas which are characterized by severe economic deprivation and by accompanying physical and social decay.
Health services, public or private, in urban areas. The services include the promotion of health and the delivery of health care.