lagunabeachindy . com MAY 19 , 2023 17
GUEST OPINION : GREEN LIGHT
The Environmental Sustainability Committee Is Greening Laguna
By TOM OSBOrne
On the evening of May 15 , two other members of the Laguna chapter of Citizens ’ Climate Lobby joined me in attending the meeting of our city ’ s Environmental Sustainability Committee ( ESC ), held at the Senior Center . I served on that committee back in 2006-2008 when it , with the help of the citizenry , wrote the current Climate Protection Action Plan . Back then , we met in a room in City Hall and in Council Chambers as there was no Senior Center . Assembly Bill 32 , the Global Warming Solutions Act , had recently been passed in Sacramento and enthusiastically signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger .
Except for councilmembers Toni Iseman and Verna Rollinger , committed environmentalists , I don ’ t recall seeing much support for our work in council or city hall . There was scarcely an electric vehicle in sight in town . Fast forward to now , a lot of greening has taken place , including on Council . Two councilmembers , George Weiss and Alex Rounaghi , serve as liaisons to the ESC , and both attended this meeting , providing encouragement and thoughtful suggestions . Their concern for the environment was palpable , knowledge-based , and evident to all .
Back when I served on the committee , we rarely saw a Councilmember at our meetings . City Hall even considered reducing our committee membership . Another big change in town needs mentioning : in 2023 , I see Teslas galore and even some Rivian trucks in our neighborhoods . Moreover , the Laguna Art Museum for the past ten years , has been conducting spectacular Art & Nature programs that have highlighted such critical issues as sea level rise and ocean pollution from oil and plastics while underscoring our love of the coast and sea .
Two constants , or throughlines , from the early 2000s to now have been a strong public will among Lagunans for environmental protections and the dedication and talents of those serving on the ESC . Regarding the public will , the demand for environmental action came from our citizenry , who
likewise insisted on the creation of a climate action plan .
The upshot was the creation of what was originally called the Environmental Committee around 2005 . A few years later , it was renamed the Environmental Sustainability Committee . Ably led by chair Shelly Bennecke , today ’ s ESC members , nine in number , have been hard at work greening Laguna . They have divided their workload into five subcommittees , each with its own chair . The subcommittees include : Wildlife Protection , Public Communications , Ocean Health , Waste , and Climate Change .
After hearing reports from each subcommittee , replete with public comments in person and online , climate change subcommittee chair Judi Mancuso conducted votes on five recommended actions for City Council . These included : creation of an ordinance to support plant-based food options in Laguna restaurants ; climate change mitigation steps , including a cool pavement pilot program ; the drafting of a reach code ordinance ( a measure exceeding Statemandated standards ) to ensure zero carbon construction standards with exemptions for restaurants with gas stoves ; devising a solar master plan for municipal , commercial , and residential buildings ; and development of an electric vehicle fleet plan for municipal , commercial , and residential uses . Regarding this last recommendation , Councilmember Rounaghi asked for specific recommendations for which Electric Vehicles ( EVs ) the City should buy with the $ 1.1 million allocated for the transition away from Internal Combustion Engine ( ICE ) vehicles . He also wisely called for an EV trolley . When the discussion was complete , the committee voted to pass all these recommendations .
Regarding the near future , two items were briefly discussed and will be continued .
One was Judi Mancuso ’ s suggestion that council sponsor a clean energy event at the Laguna Beach Recreation Center ( the old St . Catherine ’ s School ). The other item concerned the possibility of City Hall joining the Orange County Power Authority to deliver a higher mix of clean energy than provided by our investor-owned utility monopolies--Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric . I favor Laguna joining the now-reorganized OCPA , which would be a game-changer in greening our city .
Tom Osborne has an article on the founding of Save the Bay in San Francisco appearing in the summer 2023 issue of the journal California History ( University of California Press ). He and his wife , Ginger , lead the Laguna chapter of Citizens ’ Climate Lobby . tomosborne @ cox . net
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