City adopts abbreviated environment plan

City adopts abbreviated environment plan

ENCINITAS — City Council voted to adopt most of the recommendations for an amended citywide environmental action plan July 20.

Five months after the first comprehensive plan from the environmental advisory commission received a lukewarm response from the council, the revised plan was more acceptable.

In a Feb. 16 presentation to the council, the commission was both praised and chastised as its then-chairwoman, Elizabeth Taylor, presented the group's comprehensive environmental action plan.

The plan outlined more than 100 recommendations that the city could implement to increase environmental sustainability. Taylor was not reappointed to the commission.

Rather than table the report altogether, the council unanimously voted 4-0, with Mayor James Bond absent, to revisit the issue in a series of meetings.

Josef Prola, current chair of the committee, received a warmer reception when the council received the new, less ambitious plan.

According to Prola's report, the council approved the city's first Environmental Policy on Oct. 8, 2008.

"The policy specifies that the Environmental Commission will develop

an annual Environmental Work/Action Plan for the city that adheres to the principles outlined in the policy and identifies specific city activities that will lead to achieving the environmental vision of the policy," according to city documents.

In fact, the action plan is a culmination of input from city staff, public workshops and council members. Several of the recommendations include environmentally oriented efforts being implemented by city departments. Staff reviewed the final document and gave the commission feedback that was incorporated into the final plan.

"Essentially most all of the items stayed, though some have revisions," said Jacy Bolden, the city's Environmental Commission coordinator. "We'll be looking at the broader impacts of all leaf blowers rather than just 2-stroke."

Several items were added to the original plan during the meeting such as inclusion of community gardens, evaluating codes for home food production and urban farming.

The commission's ad hoc committee endeavored to make some suggestions that encompassed and worked toward accomplishment of several items from the original listing and serving multiple purposes, Bolden said. "For example, developing a Zero Waste Implementation Plan compliments the Climate Action Plan goal for working toward becoming a Zero Waste Community by 2020 and pulls in many of the recycling-composting related suggestions from the original EAP.

"Similarly, working toward becoming recognized as a 'Bicycle Friendly Community' encompasses many of the community's expressed concerns regarding bicycle safety," Bolden said.

Taking a more focused approach, the committee developed recommendations that were reasonable within the current approved fiscal year 2011-2012 budget.

Councilwomen Teresa Barth and Maggie Houlihan were very supportive of the revamped plan.

"It's about thinking outside the box," Barth said. "We should always be looking for the next best practices."

Some of the efforts already underway or that have been accomplished were included in the original plan such as energy audits at city facilities and implementing environmentally preferable purchasing and green cleaning policies at city hall.

The General Plan update process has received numerous environmentally related suggestions that overlap with the original plan, according to Bolden. They include issues such as walk-ability, bike-ability, public transportation, open space, beaches, sustainability and a separate Public Health element.

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