Jul 17, 2019
by Tish Levee
On June 11th, the City of Santa Rosa’s Climate Action Sub-committee (CAS): Mayor Tom Schwedhelm, Vice-Mayor Chris Rogers, and Council Member Julie Combs, met for the first time in the City Council Chambers. In February the Council set the Climate Action Plan as a Tier 1 priority for this year and the next. Thanks to the Friends of the Climate Action Plan, especially Mike Turgeon and Kevin Conway, for advocating for this.
The CAS’s mission is providing guidance and oversight for implementing and updating Santa Rosa’s Municipal and Community Climate Action Plans, with a goal to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and ensure long-term sustainability and resilience from climate change and its effects.
About 50 people were at this first meeting; however, the Council needs to hear from more residents and to see them at these meetings. A comment was made that when cannabis is on the agenda, the chamber is full, but that is not true when the climate crisis is the subject. It’s important for us to turn out so the Council knows voters are supporting their efforts to reduce emissions. One of the best places to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is at the city level.
California’s adopting a new Building Code, and cities have an option to adopt a Reach Code that’s more energy efficient than the State Code. Two options were discussed: 1) an All Electric Reach Code, requiring all new single family and low-rise multifamily (up to 4 stories) dwellings to be all electric with no gas lines and 2) an All Electric Favored Reach Code requiring new units with gas to take other mitigation steps. After discussion among the sub-committee members and input from the public, the sub-committee voted 2 to 1 to direct city staff to do the necessary preparation for presenting the All Electric Reach Code to the public between July and September, when two public meetings will be held. By November the City must submit our Reach Code to the State Energy Commission for approval so it can be effective with the new State Building Code on January 1, 2020.
The estimated potential impacts of adopting the All Electric Reach Code are significant. Assuming 1,200 dwellings are built annually, the yearly GHG emissions would be reduced 2,880 Metric Tons. The upfront cost savings for a single family home would be $6,171 (or $3,361 for a multifamily unit), compared with building a home with natural gas.
Methane, which causes 84 times more global heating than carbon dioxide, is the main ingredient in natural gas, so eliminating it is extremely effective in reducing GHG. It’s also harmful to health, especially when burned inside. And, as was noted in the sub-committee’s comments, natural gas in fire zones raises the fire danger considerably.
The City Council and this sub-committee need your input. Come to the next meeting on July 10, from 4-6 PM; the sub-committee will be discussing whether to switch to Sonoma Clean Power’s Evergreen, and, if so, when. They’ll also be looking at other ways Santa Rosa can reduce GHG Emissions. They need to hear from you. Please save the date, and let’s fill the Council Chambers to overflowing.
Go to srcity.org/CAS for email updates and more information about the sub-committee. ~Tish Levee (Tish Levee writes the monthly column, “For the Planet,” online this month.)
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