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Climate plan outlines greenhouse gas reduction measures

The city has released for public review a Draft Climate Action Plan that proposes a strategy for reducing Los Altos’ greenhouse gas emissions by at least 15 percent by 2020.

The draft results from the Los Altos City Council’s March approval of a minimum provisional greenhouse gas reduction target of 15 percent below the city’s 2005 level of 182,830 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). The 45-day public review period closes Friday.

Reached by the Town Crier, Los Altos Senior Planner Zach Dahl said the action plan aims to fall in line with State Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill, passed in 2006, establishes a statewide goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 1990 emission levels. Dahl added that while compliance with AB 32 is not a requirement for local jurisdictions like Los Altos, it’s important for the city to remain ahead of the curve. He noted that one-fourth to one-third of all California cities already have a Climate Action Plan in place.

“There are a lot of jurisdictions around the state doing this, so while we’re not necessarily leading the pack, we’re being proactive,” Dahl said, adding that the city could essentially achieve that goal with a 15 percent reduction of its 2005 level. “That is roughly equivalent to the 1990 level (of 155,410 MTCO2e).”

The report outlines reduction measures in five subcategories – transportation, energy, resource conservation, green community and municipal operations – and could actually achieve as much as a 17 percent deduction if approved in full by the Los Altos City Council.

“Some of these (measures) obviously have a bigger impact than others,” Dahl said, pointing specifically to traffic-calming measures, as well as developing and implementing the city’s Pedestrian Master Plan and Bicycle Transportation Plan. “Those three will be the bulk of how we’ll reduce emissions.”

Dahl views the Climate Action Plan as more than just a guiding document to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. If implemented, he said, it could also enable Los Altos residents to enjoy “a better overall living experience.”

Certification of the action plan opens the door for the city to receive state grant dollars, which could potentially offset a significant portion of the $2.2 million estimated for projects outlined in the city’s Bicycle Transportation Plan. Future construction projects will be subject to a more “streamlined” environmental review process.

The Draft Climate Action Plan is available on the city’s website, and residents can submit written comments until 5 p.m. Friday.

The Environmental Commission reviewed the plan at its Aug. 12 meeting. It will also be the topic of a follow-up public meeting slated 7 p.m. Sept. 9 in the council chambers, 1 N. San Antonio Road.

The city council has tentatively scheduled a public meeting to consider the plan 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in the council chambers.

For more information, visit ci.los-altos.ca.us.

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