Above: A Climate Action Plan includes reduction measures that focus on energy and buildings, water and wastewater, solid waste, transportation, land use, agriculture and forestry. Courtesy photo
OCEANSIDE — One of the last cities in North County to adopt a climate action plan has finally done so as part of its general plan update.
Oceanside City Council approved an amendment adopting new economic development and energy and climate action elements to its General Plan, including a Climate Action Plan (CAP), during its May 8 meeting.
The CAP will implement the Energy and Climate Action Element’s policies.
According to Russ Cunningham, the city’s principal planner in charge of managing the first phase of the General Plan Update, the Economic Development Element and the Energy and Climate Action Element are “high-level policy documents” while the CAP is meant to demonstrate the city’s ability to stay consistent with the state’s emission reduction goals through short-term measures.
The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was prepared to assess the potential for significant environmental impacts associated with this general plan update project.
The CAP includes reduction measures that focus on energy and buildings, water and wastewater, solid waste, transportation, land use, agriculture and forestry.
The CAP also includes a renewable energy procurement goal of 75% by 2030 for the city, while the FEIR suggests an alternative, superior 100% goal.
Several residents expressed their support for the 100% goal, and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez encouraged the other council members to also support the 100% goal instead.
The motion passed without amending the 75% goal, though Councilman Ryan Keim noted the goal could be amended in the future.
Themes present in the Energy and Climate Action Element document include energy efficiency and renewable energy, highlighting the city’s commitment to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy resources; and “smart growth” and multimodal transportation, which would entail enhancing the city’s walkability for its residents.
The document also includes a zero waste strategic plan with a goal of diverting 90% of waste by 2035, and a water conservation plan to increase Oceanside’s water independence with a goal of meeting at least 50% of the city’s water demand using local water sources by 2050.
The Energy and Climate Action Element and CAP documents also encourage the city’s residents to be mindful and aware of how to reduce their own carbon footprints.
“Local GHG (greenhouse gas) inventories don’t account for emissions associated with consumer choices, but what we choose to purchase and consume contributes significantly to our carbon footprint and solid waste stream,” Cunningham said.
According to the FEIR, 48% of Oceanside’s greenhouse gas emissions come from personal vehicles being driven.
Several of the Economic Development Element themes align with the goals of the Energy and Climate Action Element and CAP, like its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for Oceanside residents.
“Our stakeholders made it very plain that we do not engage in economic development for the sake of economic development itself,” Cunningham said. “We do so to lift the fortunes of our residents and to improve the quality of life.”
The Economic Development Element also commits Oceanside to a resilient economy, which Cunningham said promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Deputy Mayor Jack Feller said the Economic Development Element was the reason he supported adoption of the general plan update elements.
Councilman Chris Rodriguez said “it’s our responsibility” to implement such policies.
“I feel responsible as a father to my children and their children and their children to do the right thing in moving something like this forward, to be better stewards of our environment,” he said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son