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San Marcos begins roll out of revised Climate Action Plan

SAN MARCOS — At a May 13 meeting, City of San Marcos staff gave presentations at a community workshop on the city’s proposed revised Climate Action Plan (CAP).

City staff members laid out some of the options San Marcos has to meet its state-mandated goals under its 2030 compliance plan. The updated CAP will exist as an amendment within the city’s 2013 General Plan, published to show that the city’s development plan complies with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Saima Qureshy, the Principal Planner for the City of San Marcos, said in her presentation that the revised CAP will serve as an update to the one adopted in 2013 by the San Marcos City Council.

“We are in the process now to identify strategies and methods to reduce greenhouse gases and decide which are the best paths for the city,” she said.

Quereshy said that the passage of SB 32 in 2016, and the need for San Marcos to comply with it, serves as a key impetus behind the revision.

According to the greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the city report published as a draft in August 2018, transportation sits as the top greenhouse gas emitter at 54 percent of its portfolio. In second place, at 27 percent, is electricity. The greenhouse gas inventory was conducted by researchers from the the University of San Diego Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC).

Nilmini Silva-Send, the assistant director of EPIC and lead researcher of the city’s greenhouse gas inventory report, said at the workshop that actions taken by the California state government have helped San Marcos achieve its CAP goals for 2020.

But her research shows that if the “business-as-usual” scenario continues—and further possible mitigation actions are not taken by the city, county or state to move San Marcos towards further greenhouse gas reductions—then San Marcos would fall short of the state mandate to reduce emissions to 41-percent below 2012 levels by 2030.

EPIC completed the greenhouse gas inventory as part of a partnership with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and San Diego Gas & Electric called the Energy Roadmap Program.

Every city in San Diego County participates in the program, which aims to create “a framework for a local government to reduce energy use in municipal operations and in the community,” according to SANDAG’s website.

At the workshop, attendees also had the opportunity to take a survey and express some of their preferred policy options that the city could take to meet its CAP goals. The survey results will be incorporated into the compliance plan, which will be finalized by September or October.

Six people took the survey — available online through May 20, and conveyed a preference for options such as more non-residential uptake of solar energy, more renewable energy loaded into the electricity grid, and more electric vehicle charging stations dispersed throughout the city.

The workshop was the second of three for the City of San Marcos CAP, with the final meeting slated for 6:30 p.m. on May 20 at the San Marcos Civic Center’s Valley of Discover Room.

At that meeting, City of San Marcos Planning Commission members will also be in attendance. May 20 will also be the deadline for the CAP survey.

Planning Commission hearings for the proposed CAP revision are set to begin early next year, with City Council hearings set to begin in March 2020.