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 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.