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Environmental Commission rejects ‘climate emergency’ declaration

ENCINITAS — The city’s Environmental Commission entertained two motions on May 14 recommending the Encinitas City Council to approve a resolution declaring a “climate emergency,” neither of which passed and both votes resulting in a 3-4 split.

The Climate Emergency Declaration, authored by Commission Vice Chair James Wang, would recognize the “egregious dangers imposed by climate change” by citing “overwhelming scientific consensus” and encouraging local municipalities, businesses, and individuals to create policies and regulations accordingly.

During the course of the meeting, the declaration received support from all commissioners, however, several questioned whether the report itself was ready to be presented to the council. Commissioners debated adding further local ecological data and clarity to strengthen the pronouncement, and questioned whether the language itself should be simplified for public consumption.

“We’ve learned a lot in the last few months from the COVID experience that really applies to climate change,” Commissioner Bisconer said. “But the timing is actually very good.”

The Commission discussed the options available, either revising the Declaration and passing it as is, creating a subcommittee to delve deeper into specific issues, or holding it until further discussion.

Public comments read aloud during the meeting underscored a common concern — “Why now?”

District 2 candidate Susan Turney expressed concerns with the final plan and its effects on housing plans, traffic, electricity consumption, and infrastructure overall.

“I’m concerned that by declaring an emergency, the council will grant itself the power to bypass code, zoning, and city policies,” Turney said.

Commissioner Wang said the city has ignored data for decades, noting that if Encinitas wants to be considered a leader in environmental conservation, then it needs to take the initiative.

“All movements start in small cities and grow from there,” Wang said. “If we implement this here in our smaller cities, then it moves to the county, to the state, and through to the nation.”

Other Californian jurisdictions to declare a Climate Emergency include Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco among two dozen others.

A motion was presented to revise the report, fine-tuning data for a future presentation to the city council, however, it failed 3-4.

Closely following, a motion to present the declaration in its current form to the city council also failed 3-4, resulting in no immediate action being taken by the commission at the meeting.

Commissioner Wang expressed his intention to present the declaration at a future meeting for further discussion and once again, hold a vote to present it to the City Council at a future date.

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