Disadvantaged Communities Assessment

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) developed the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen 3.0) to use as a screening methodology to identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. CalEPA has used the tool to designate California communities as disadvantaged pursuant to Senate Bill 535.

Based on the methodology used to establish CalEnviroScreen 3.0, no census tracts in the San Luis Obispo region are designated as disadvantaged communities. A number of statewide competitive grant programs include disadvantaged communities funding requirements (or bonus points) to ensure that disadvantaged communities fully share in the benefits of the program. Some grant programs allow for applicants to reference a regional definition of disadvantaged communities, such as the 2019 Active Transportation Program (ATP) Guidelines. To qualify as a disadvantaged community the community served by the project must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The median household income is less than 80 percent of the statewide median based on the most current census tract data.

  • An area identified as among the most disadvantaged 25 percent in the state according to CalEPA and based on CalEnviroScreen 3.0 scores.

  • At least 75 percent of the public school students in the project area are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

  • Alternatively, if an applicant believes the plan benefits a disadvantaged community, but the plan area does not meet the aforementioned criteria due to lacking or inaccurate Census data or CalEnviroScreen data represents a small neighborhood or unincorporated area, a quantitative assessment may be submitted to demonstrate the community’s median household income is at or below 80 percent of the state median household income. (2019 ATP Guidelines, California Transportation Commission, June 2018)

Regional Definition of Disadvantaged Communities

The 2019 ATP Guidelines now require the adoption of regional definitions of disadvantaged communities as part of a regular four-year cycle adoption of the RTP and include public outreach and severity stratification. Chapter 4 of the 2019 RTP identifies neighborhoods in the region that meet a regional definition of disadvantaged communities, and provides planners with a framework for reaching out and connecting to these populations.


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