City Adopts Green Action Plan | Councilmember Remains Apprehensive

City Council member Diana Mahmud expresses concern that the plan does not include energy efficiency

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Councilmember and CPA Chair, Diana Mahmud; The South Pasadena City Council adopted the Green Action Plan, sparking a lively discussion amongst city council members Wednesday night

A city report and Bill Glazier contributed to this article

South Pasadena, already recognized for its “green” efforts, is about to get greener.

On Wednesday night, the City Council approved a Green Action Plan.

Sustainability, according to a report by prepared by South Pasadena City officials, is an important aspect in the City of South Pasadena’s way of life as exemplified by the city’s participation in the Clean Power Alliance, the adoption of the expanded polystyrene ban ordinance, and the inclusion of sustainability in the city’s Strategic Plan.

To further strengthen the city’s commitment to sustainability, city staff created definitive goals and actions to be taken in the form of the Green Plan.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Shahid Abbas, South Pasadena Director of Public Works

The five goals include:

Goal I: Work towards making South Pasadena a Plastic-Free city.

Goal II: Enhance Water Conservation Projects and Programs.

Goal III: Increase Organics Diversion from Landfill.

Goal IV: Mitigate Impacts of the Urban Heat Island Effect.

Goal V: Prepare for the Consideration of Future Sustainability Initiatives.

The plan presented to the council Wednesday night did not address energy efficiency, but now will based on concerns raised from City Councilmember Diana Mahmud. City officials said energy efficiency and transportation aspects of sustainability would be addressed in the broader and comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CAP), but Mahmud pushed for the importance of it being included in the Green Action Plan. The CAP is a long-term sustainability plan that will aim to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is expected to be completed by the end of the 2020.

The plan moved forward as the city will address concerns by City Councilmember Diana Mahmud that the plan has not incorporated energy efficiency.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Stephanie DeWolfe, South Pasadena City Manager

City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe recommended adopting the plan as part of the November 20 City Council meeting, demonstrating to the NREC and community that it is moving forward while the city brings back some additional information to formulate a strategy about energy efficiency in which the council could then amend at a later date.

“I would be amenable to that,” said Mahmud, “but I’d like to see it come back no later than January.”

DeWolfe said she was happy to have city staff look into her concerns,” noting that the issue will be presented to the City Council in January.

The goals and initiatives in the Green Plan were selected based on the Natural Resources and Environmental Commission (NREC) recommendations for prioritization, the feasibility of completion within the timeline of the plan, and compliance of state mandates.

Councilmembers lauded the efforts of the NREC for working long hours on the plan. “I’m really honored tonight to see environmental champions in our community come forward,” said City Council member Michael Cacciotti, who has worked on many environmental efforts in the city and is mindful for the need of clean air as a board member on the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “Thank you. This is a great start and I support it. You’ve done incredible work.”

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Councilmember, Michael Cacciotti

The Green Action Plan will explore the feasibility and costs of implementation of sustainability initiatives and focus primarily on research, outreach, and education.

The plan presented to the council Wednesday night did not address energy efficiency, but now will based on concerns raised from City Councilmember Diana Mahmud. City officials said energy efficiency and transportation aspects of sustainability would be addressed in the broader and comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CAP), but Mahmud pushed for the importance of it being included in the Green Action Plan. The CAP is a long-term sustainability plan that will aim to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is expected to be completed by the end of the 2020.

“I’m very, very supportive of the Green Action Plan,” said Robert Joe, who also sits on the South Pasadena City Council.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Mayor Pro-tem, Bob Joe

He joined Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, who also gave the plan a thumbs up, saying: “It’s very ambitious…but with the collective input we can do it. It’s going to have to be the whole community making it happen. We need to move forward.”

Throughout the year, the NREC discussed many sustainability programs and initiatives that would conserve the city’s natural resources and benefit the community and environment.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian

In addition, several community members and Council members have come forth with their environmental concerns and expressed the urgent need to address them as a City. Finally, current environmental events such as the depletion of natural resources, higher temperatures, the overflow of landfills, and China’s National Sword policy have made it clear that implementing sustainable practices in the City is critical.

Although the city’s CAP is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, the NREC, City staff, and South Pasadena residents believe that waiting any longer to take any action would be detrimental to the community and our environment.

“While we wait for the completion of the CAP, the Green Plan will allow us to initiate many of the recommended moves and focus on researching and providing education on the most important environmental issues in our city,” reads a portion of a city report on the issue.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Resident Madeline Di Giorgi, has been an active member in the community regarding climate change issues

The proposed sustainability initiatives vary in subject, environmental impact, and resources needed to implement them.

City staff consolidated, prioritized, and organized these initiatives into five overarching goals based on NREC’s recommendations, the feasibility of completing these goals within the timeline of the plan, and compliance of state mandates such as AB 1826.

Each goal includes strategies (“plays”) and specific actions (“moves”) for achieving these objectives. The goals address plastic reduction, water conservation, organics diversion, heat island mitigation, and preparation for future sustainability initiatives.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Julian Lee, Deputy Director of Public Works for South Pasadena

Goal I: Work towards making South Pasadena a Plastic-Free city. With the closure of hundreds of recycling facilities and plastic pollution crisis, the city and NREC says it is no longer enough to recycle our plastics – it’s time to shift the focus on reducing them from the start. South Pasadena has banned expanded polystyrene and plastic bags. The Green Action Plan will explore the possibility of banning single-use plastics and ensure that residents and business owners are educated on the tools and resources available for alternatives. Moves under this goal include seeking funds for installing water bottle refill stations, developing a zero-waste guide for city events, and creating education materials on plastic alternatives for residents and businesses.

Goal II: Enhance Water Conservation Projects and Programs. Water is a precious resource in California and droughts are all too common. Identifying water waste and altering behaviors is key to conserving water. The Green Action Plan will explore new ways to conserve water and strengthen our current programs. Moves under this goal include creating an Integrated Water and Wastewater Resources Management Plan (IWWRMP), evaluating the feasibility of implementing a greywater rebate program, and retrofitting all water faucets in City facilities with low-flow aerators.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Arpy Kasparian, Water Conservation and Sustainability Analyst for South Pasadena

Goal III: Increase Organics Diversion from Landfill With landfills filling up at an alarming rate, increasing diversion efforts is crucial. According to the city report, in 2019, one third of the 39 million tons of waste Californians disposed of were compostable organic materials. The plan will prioritize organics diversion methods and ensure that the city is compliant with legislative mandates including AB1826 and SB1383. Moves under this goal include connecting restaurants and grocery stores with food donation organizations, exploring ways to establish composting hubs in South Pasadena, and providing education on at-home composting in the form of pamphlets and workshops.

Goal IV: Mitigate Impacts of the Urban Heat Island Effect. The loss of vegetation causes urban areas to become warmer than their surrounding rural areas creating a hear island. These higher temperatures increase peak energy demand, air pollution, and heat-related illness. This plan will address this issue by reviewing and strengthening parking lot and cool roof codes, reviewing the city’s tree ordinance, and providing education materials on tree watering and maintenance.

Goal V: Prepare for the Consideration of Future Sustainability Initiatives. The Green Plan is only the beginning. It does not cover all aspects of sustainability – energy efficiency, transportation, chemical pollution, etc.). These will be covered in the upcoming CAP. The moves in this plan are just a few of the steps the city will be committed to take towards sustainability. There are several moves that the plan will keep alive and incorporate into the CAP. These moves include reviewing the feasibility of the Renewable Energy Council’s recommendations, evaluating the feasibility of banning gas-powered lawn equipment including leaf blowers, and establishing sustainability-focused groups to spearhead the implementation of sustainability initiatives and practices in businesses and schools.

In preparation of the Green Plan, City department representatives reviewed and provided feedback on the moves during a City Staff Green Action Plan Workshop. In addition, the plan was presented to the NREC during their public meeting and shared with the Chamber of Commerce.

With input from the NREC, the report was prepared by Shahid Abbas, the city’s director of public works; Julian Lee, deputy director of public works; and Arpy Kasparian, water conservation and sustainability analyst.

The council’s unanimous 5-0 vote in favor of the plan was met with enthusiasm and a loud cheer by seated NREC members listening to the issue.

 

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