Stockton approves “historic” Climate Action Plan

After eight painstaking years, Stockton finally has a Climate Action Plan. Tuesday night, the city council unanimously passed the landmark plan with ambitious but achievable goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Stockton.

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) has 26 measures, six of which are mandatory under state regulation. These measures include the adoption of a green building ordinance to a Safe Routes to School plan to a city tree planting initiative. The goal of the CAP is to reduce Stockton’s greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 2005 levels by the year 2020.

“This is a historic moment,” said Eric Parfrey, representing the Sierra Club and Campaign for Common Ground. “We are finally coming to the realization that Stockton can get business done.”

The 482 page Climate Action Plan aims to cull Stockton emissions by the year 2020

The response from the council was universally positive with each member acknowledging both the urgent need for smarter planning and the tremendous work by both city staff and the Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee that went into creating the 482 page document.

“The city needs smart growth,” said outgoing Councilman Paul Canepa. “And Stockton hasn’t always been smart.”

Full disclosure; I also spoke in favor of this plan representing the Cort Group during public comment. The CAP has strong language imploring the city to adopt more policies to encourage infill development, specifically with respect to downtown as city staff noted that the majority of emissions in Stockton stems from too much driving. The CAP calls for 3,000 new units to be built in Downtown Stockton by the year 2020, though this component is in no way binding. A key to achieving this goal will be the establishment of a public-private partnership, according to the plan.

The meeting also turned into something of a swan song for outgoing Director of Community Development Steve Chase who recently announced his retirement. Each council member heaped praise on Chase for his ability to turn mundane topics and staff reports into engaging material. They also acknowledged that while his tenure was short, Chase has set the tone for smarter growth in Stockton that will be felt for years to come.

Chase was quick to mention that even though he was retiring, he still planned to be actively involved in the community.

“I ain’t going anywhere,” said Chase, explaining that he has a vested interest in the community and that his retirement will allow him more time for direct civic engagement.

Moving forward, the CAP represents a huge step forward for Stockton, and not just because it addresses climate change. The fact that the city, private citizens and special interest groups could come together and agree on a plan this technical and massive is a great sign for our city. It shows that everyone understands the need to make big changes in Stockton, and that Stocktonians are willing to put in the time and effort to make these changes resilient.

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Categories: Smart Growth

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia founded SCL in March of 2012. He holds degrees from UCLA as well as Johns Hopkins University and currently works as the Chief Operating Officer at Ten Space in Downtown Stockton, and previously worked as a researcher/analyst for a congressional agency in Washington DC. The views expressed here are solely of the author.

3 Comments on “Stockton approves “historic” Climate Action Plan”

  1. dan cort
    December 3, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Good article David. Now how do we get the necessary incentives to build market/workforce housing downtown.
    It will take a disciplined approach by Stockton’s Planning and Community Development to demand infill.
    I think now is the time.
    Thanks for your advocacy.

  2. Ned Leiba
    December 4, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    As Dan knows, I strongly believe in in-fill. I greatly respect the CAPAC members. However, I sense few of our civic leaders have really read and analyzed the reports and followed the developments.

    Not to rain on the panegyrics but cold reason and cogent analysis are not a sufficient part of this process. This has cost millions of dollars that could have been used, for example, to improve downtown or increase tree planting and maintenance.

    I invite anyone who claims the CAP is a historic wonder to ponder the case of the GBO (Green Building Ordinance) which has been rejected x 3 by the California Energy Commission. The original versions of the GBO needed a cost effectiveness study (CES) which the City resisted and hence the GBO was first rejected by the CEC. The City then coughed up an incredible CES document that the Council approved, and the CEC rejected. Consider my 2011 comments on one of the last CES to support the GBO:

    The focus of the CAPAC should be GHG mitigation. The costs per
    mitigation of GHG per MT in the February report are outrageously
    high. Take the small single family retrofit cost of $1.91 per
    pound as recited in the report. A MT is 2204.62 pounds, so the
    cost using the report computation is $4,211 per MT. For the
    large single family retrofit, the cost per MT is $3.23 x 2204.62
    pounds = $7,120.

    Those are insanely high costs per MT. You can purchase a
    relatively expensive PG&E offset for $10 per MT per year.
    Furthermore, my computations show the Gabel PG&E Study GHG cost
    factors are not correct, and tend to be too low using the
    methodology of the study. If you add the true costs of retrofit
    vs. new construction, then the costs are astronomical. Any type
    of proper present value analysis (i.e., GHG reduction benefits
    carry into the future) would not change the picture; it would
    actually make it worse.

    To see how outrageous the GHG costs are, and to further see the
    capriciousness buried in the study, consider the April 2010
    revision to the high rise office building analysis. The February
    study shows a payback of 10.8 years and GHG per pound cost of
    $38.72 or $85,636! The April version changed the pay back to 3.1
    years and the GHG per pound to $1.49 or $3,285 per MT. Now we
    are back to the February study numbers. $85,636 per MT! Can
    anyone explain this?

    These numbers – for the GBO and for other elements like solar photo voltaic – are so outrageous, no one who spends anytime analyzing these reports would say this has been an unbiased, cogent process. On the other hand, if you are interested in marketing, the aura of progressive planning, and have difficulty with numbers, perhaps you pass over the insoluble difficulties.

    The worst part, to me, was that the City enforced the GBO when it was unlawful, and never (to my knowledge) contacted those who were subject to enforcement despite assurances to me to the contrary. The City said it would evaluate the actual functioning of the GBO and then report to the CAPAC. I have not seen that report. David, have you seen that report? Has anyone? Failure to contact citizens who were subject to an unlawful ordinance is profoundly unjust and terrible public policy. I urged the CAPAC to hear a report of the empirical results of the enforcement of the GBO to learn of the actual costs and benefits? Did we reduce GHGs and did it cost $10 per MT or $85,636.

  3. Jon Seisa
    December 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    David, I think one significant and major area of home financing to encourage choosing residency in downtown urban infill (or at least in the surrounding medium-density periphery) can be facilitated, immensely, by the Fed Gov and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by simply revamping the Veteran Administration Home Loan Benefits Program to feature more enticing finance and monetary incentives aimed at shifting home purchases away from single-family dwellings in low-density suburban sprawl and towards the high-density urban core.

    In this way U.S. Servicemember families, U.S. Veterans (disabled or not, and with or without spouses or families) and eligible Veteran surviving spouses (with or without children) may be enticed to live downtown, increasing into the urban demographic mix a robust young adult, young family and adult disabled demographic, intermingled along with the young high-tech urbanites and business professionals typically attracted to dense urban living.

    Home units or vast complexes could also be adapted to Veterans’ physical disability needs via the existing VA’s Adapted Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans.

    I’m really surprised that the Fed Gov, a strong proponent of Smart Growth Infill and the U.N. Agenda 21, has not thought of these policy changes yet.

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