Santa Monica Sustainability Rights Ordinance

The Santa Monica Sustainability Rights Ordinance, adopted by the Santa Monica City Council in June 2019, declares a human right to a healthy environment and grants natural ecosystems a right of existence. The ordinance reaffirms the City’s commitment to protecting and modeling sustainability, including with regard to rights it recognizes but believes existing law fails to protect. The ordinance empowers citizens to bring suit to protect nature’s rights and their own related to the environment.

The City Council finds that existing bodies of law are inadequate to protect what it declares to be the people’s right to a healthy environment. The ordinance finds that human consumption is unsustainable, and that all communities’ welfares are tied to that of the natural ecosystems that support them. Accordingly, the City declares that all residents possess “fundamental and unalienable” rights to:

  • Sustainable clean water,
  • Recreation-safe marine areas,
  • Sustainable, locally-grown food,
  • Sustainable climate and biodiversity,
  • Clean indoor and outdoor air,
  • Comprehensive, environmentally-friendly waste disposal, and
  • A sustainable energy future.

The ordinance grants to natural ecosystems a “fundamental and inalienable right to exist and flourish in the City of Santa Monica.” To preserve the integrity of this right and of the ecosystem, city residents can sue to protect natural systems. These systems are defined as groundwater aquifers, atmospheric systems, marine waters, and native species, all within the city. The City further declares that its residents possess a power of self-governance that does not grant special privileges to corporate interests.  

To promote the realization of these goals, the City will biannually prepare and review a sustainability rights report to assess its progress. The City or any resident may bring suit to force compliance with any of the Santa Monica Municipal Code’s provisions which are identified as enforceable in the Sustainable City Plan.


Publication Date: June 25, 2019


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Resource Types:

  • Laws
  • Legislation

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