A policy document that will serve as a guideline in making Los Altos more environmentally friendly recently entered a new phase.
The Los Altos City Council voted unanimously in favor of preparing a final draft of the city’s Climate Action Plan Sept. 24. In doing so, the council directed city staff to initiate an environmental review process, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
The council also approved $11,865 in additional funds to complete work on the plan, which outlines various measures the city can take to achieve a minimum greenhouse gas reduction target of 17 percent below the city’s 2005 level of 182,830 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent.
The city’s Climate Action Plan complies with State Assembly Bill 32, known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill, passed in 2006, established a statewide goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 emission levels by 2020.
Prior to the vote, Los Altos resident Margaret Suozzo – representing local environmental group GreenTown Los Altos – told the council that the Climate Action Plan was “not perfect, but it’s an excellent start” and urged advancement of the proposal.
“We look forward to working with the city to implement the plan and reduce the carbon footprint of our community,” she said.
Gary Hedden – who serves as an Environmental Commissioner to the city but spoke on his own behalf – said the council should give measures outlined in the report the “highest possible priority” if the city aims to meet its reduction target by 2020.
Despite the unanimous vote to move forward, Councilwoman Megan Satterlee questioned whether the city had the manpower, time and resources available to meet the plan’s reduction goals. Specifically, Satterlee said that while she didn’t relish playing the spoiler role, she simply couldn’t foresee measures in the plan “happening by 2020.”
“I really sort of feel like we have to be a little more honest with ourselves,” Satterlee noted before voting in favor of the plan’s continued development. “We currently have a number of frozen positions on (city) staff, we have a backlog of CIP (Capital Improvement Program) projects (and) we have a backlog of council-requested items to come before us. You add this entire work plan on top of all that existing work and it ain’t all getting done.”
However, Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw noted that he’d like “to see us move forward,” while conceding that he also considered the backlog of work ahead for the city.
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins praised the efforts of city staffers and consultants in their work while calling the plan a “roadmap” for the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the next several years.
“When I look at this, this really lends itself to this plan-do-check-act approach to things,” she said. “You plan something, you do it, you check it … and then we take it and act accordingly. I think it is structured to allow us to do that very successfully.”