OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is embarking on the process of retooling its General Plan Update with a focus on expanding local jobs and reducing the city’s carbon footprint.
To achieve these goals a new Economic Development Plan Element and Energy/Climate Action Plan Element will be introduced as a significant first step.
The elements go far beyond establishing economic development policies, and reach past taking steps to reduce energy use and conserve water. Together they focus on the city’s potential to simultaneously grow the local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“This will be the first time such (economic development) policies have been formally integrated with the objectives, goals and policies of the General Plan,” Russ Cunningham, city principal planner, said. “This will (also) be the first time the city has developed a comprehensive strategy for reducing its carbon footprint.”
The state has set the bar for cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and further reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2035.
Cities are held to these benchmarks by the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires cities to analyze and mitigate the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions associated with all projects, past, present and future.
“Most cities undertaking general plan updates have adopted the state’s GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions reduction thresholds and prepared climate action plans that show how they will reduce GHG emissions enough to meet these thresholds,” Cunningham said. “We intend to follow this approach.”
Cunningham said the majority of Oceanside’s future emissions reductions will be achieved as a result of federal and state mandates on fuel efficiency, clean fuel standards and other requirements, which will bend the emissions curve.
He added the city can also significantly contribute to reducing its emissions by enacting “green” land use authority practices, such as containing sprawl, providing alternative transportation options and expanding tree canopy.
Cunningham said what is good for the environment can also benefit the economy.
“GHG emissions reduction makes sense economically,” Cunningham said. “We can save money, add jobs and grow demand for local “green” industries through market-based emissions reduction strategies.”
The city will hold two workshops this month to provide information on its economy and emission reduction goals, and collect community input on ways to achieve them. Workshops will begin with browse-by information stations and conclude with a whole group discussion and Q&A session.
Additional workshops will be held before the Economic Development Plan Element and Energy/Climate Action Plan Element are brought to the City Council for adoption in March 2018.
Upcoming workshops will be held at City Council Chambers at 300 North Coast Highway at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 and Oct. 27.