By Paul Kruze
July 15, 2019 (El Cajon) -- In a unanimous vote, the El Cajon City Council voted to approve a climate change policy developed in conjunction with community outreach sessions earlier this year. But some critics contend the plan does not go far enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Lorena Cordova, an associate planner with the city’s Community Development Department, outlined to the City Council the comprehensive plan including eight strategies intended to reduce pollution, improve community resiliency, and create community-wide change, with the intent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. View the presentation.
El Cajon’s plan took into account an inventory of existing greenhouse gas emissions, projected future emissions, and strategies to reduceemissions. It would push the city to using 80 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030.
Direct benefits include plans to manage resources and improve efficiencies, California EnvironmentalQuality Act streamlining, potential grant funding and various co-benefits and guidance on state policy.
Objectives were reached with a project webpage, press releases on sustainable strategies, a public workshop in May, outreach at community events such as the America On Main Street event, stakeholder meetings which included the Newcomers in Action charity, and a community survey.
Cordova said that by the year 2020, the city will be able to meet its program targets without further action. However, by 2030, the city will not be able to meet environmental targets without further action due to a 33,000 metric ton gap between current efforts to curb the emission of greenhouse gases and goals.
While some were happy with the city’s step in this direction, numerous individuals from a political action group called “Climate Action Campaign” were critical of the city for not embracing a 100 percent goal of clean and renewable energy by 2030.
In a prepared news release sent out to San Diego news outlets on Wednesday, the group’s leader, Maleeka Marsden, complained that the city “fails families and children in El Cajon and the region by failing to protect public health, failing to clean the air, failing to meet state law,” and failing to what she characterized as a “twin climate and housing crisis.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, she testified, “We think this climate action plan is failing community members because it’s adopting half measures that don’t really commit to fighting climate crisis and are not enforceable.”
Several times, City Council members said the plan could be updated in the future. City Manager Graham Mitchell expressed the last words after the plan was passed when he stated, “This is about adopt and adapt.”
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