City moves forward with climate action plan

ENCINITAS — The city of Encinitas is moving forward with a detailed plan to lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

The City Council at its June 28 meeting unanimously approved a draft climate action plan, which outlines a series of actions the city will take to lower its emissions by 13 percent by 2020 and by 41 percent by 2030.

By approving the draft, the city moves forward with the process that officials ultimately hope will lead to its final approval in October. Between then and now, however, the plan will go through additional public scrutiny, a full environmental impact assessment and staff will add more details on the true costs associated with the actions proposed to lower the emissions. 

Some of the action plan’s proposals range from requiring new homes and commercial buildings to have solar panels and solar-powered water heaters, to more extensive goals such as a requiring electric vehicle charging stations at new homes and commercial buildings, a citywide “zero waste” target and the adoption of a community choice energy program, which would be the single largest emission reducer, according to the staff report. 

At the City Council meeting, several of the council members expressed concern with some of the details of the plan, or lack thereof. 

One of the plan’s charts gives a “low, medium and high” cost estimate for the city and the community for each of the plan’s action items. 

Several of the council members questioned the estimates.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear, for example, questioned how the zero-waste goal could have a “medium” cost designation or how EV charging requirements could be considered as a “low” cost to new businesses. 

“Requiring commercial vehicles to have electrical vehicle charging stations, for some that have limited parking, this might be a make or break on them being able to do business,” Blakespear said. 

Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath questioned the community choice energy timeline in staff’s report, which she said did not match the city’s timeline of having it in place before 2020. 

Crystal Najera, the city climate action plan administrator, said staff wanted to be conservative with the time estimates. 

Several members of the public also added input, including Dennis Lees, a biologist from Leucadia, who urged the city to work with the Encinitas Union School District to re-institute busing at schools, which he said would reduce greenhouse gases significantly by removing hundreds of individual car trips off the road.

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The City of Encinitas will hold a public workshop on its draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) on July 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Encinitas City Hall, 505 S. Vulcan Avenue, in the Poinsettia Room. The workshop will outline proposed changes to the City’s existing CAP and will also provide an opportunity for members of the public to weigh-in on the draft plan. The plan can be viewed online at www.cityofencinitas.org/Climate in advance of the meeting. Comments will be accepted in person at the workshop or may be submitted via email at climateaction@encinitasca.gov until July 18, 2017.

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