In an effort to curb the city’s share of greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by the year 2020, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously to move forward on a draft climate action plan.
According to Assistant City Planner James David, development of the plan is the city’s chance to “get out in front” of similar efforts being tooled at the state level since the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
“This is more than just reducing emissions; there are a lot of quality-of-life improvements here, as well,” David reported to the council.
Simply put, the plan entails a large package of best management strategies to guide decision-making, as well as public outreach efforts to educate residents on what they can do to reduce gas emissions.
According to city staff’s report, about half of community-wide emissions released in the city are related to traffic, 22 percent from commercial and industrial properties, 21 percent from residences, and 7 percent from waste, based on figures from 2005.
The plan will also combat city government’s own emissions. Roughly 29 percent of the city’s carbon dioxide emissions stem from its vehicle fleet, about 18 percent from wastewater treatment, and another 16 percent originates from water delivery.
In addition, Community Development Director Derek Johnson told the council that adopting such a plan might open the door for city- and community-related grant opportunities.
Johnson said costs associated with the plan include upward of $650,000 related to staff time over a period of eight years. However, he noted that the plan only analyzed city costs, and didn’t provide an in-depth view of costs to residents and businesses over time.
“There’s a gaping hole in the staff report,” said SLO resident and commercial property owner Steve Barasch. “This is a very broad-ranging document, and I think we need to take a step back and give the public a better handle on how it will affect them.”
In response, the council amended the draft to require an in-depth cost-benefit analysis to accompany a proposal whenever specific strategies could end up costing residents.
“We really need to look at the forest and not just the leaves on the trees on this,” Mayor Jan Marx said.