In this episode of FWD Thinkers, CA FWD CEO Micah Weinberg talks to Antonio Villaraigosa, the senior advisor to Governor Newsom’s administration on infrastructure and former Los Angeles Mayor, to discuss the critical state of California’s infrastructure in the face of climate change and other challenges.
With federal infrastructure funds through 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act incoming to California, CA FWD and Villaraigosa partnered with the Governor’s Office to gather input from regional stakeholders across the state on how to best prioritize equity, climate resilience and fast-tracking needed infrastructure projects.
“This investment has to be made differently than we have in the past. It has to be made not just with transparency, but it has to be made with the notion that equity and inclusion are important,” said Villaraigosa. “We can’t put all of the infrastructure in communities of color and not have them and poor communities benefit from those investments.”
Villaraigosa sees the impact of climate change as an emergency that can and should be addressed through infrastructure spending. “In communities that have been impacted, for example, for drinking water, farms that have been impacted, because the land is dried up, there’s no water and they can’t grow crops on those farms. So, we have got to treat this as an emergency.”
And because California is in an emergency, completing these projects in a timely manner is important. “Moving these projects along as quickly and accelerating these projects and moving them officially is important, because when you don’t have drinking water and when you have to get bottled water delivered, so that you can shower,” said Villaraigosa, “That’s unacceptable. That doesn’t work. They want a fierce urgency of now.”
CA FWD will be releasing a report on the regional infrastructure needs and recommendations from statewide regional stakeholders discussed in this interview.
You can listen to the entire FWD Thinkers discussion between Villaraigosa and Weinberg in the video above.