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Santa Cruz City Council asks community for advice on climate plan

The conversation about making Santa Cruz a more energy efficient town - including less water use, fewer car trips and more solar energy - warmed up Tuesday as city leaders looked to the community for advice on how to make a proposed "climate action plan" successful.

For nearly three years, the city's climate change action coordinator Ross Clark has studied city fuel logs, PG&E records and regional transportation reports that gauge vehicle miles traveled to come up with estimates of Santa Cruz's greenhouse gas emissions.

He presented to the council his findings and a plan to drastically cut emissions by 2020.

No action was taken on the proposed plan presented by Ross and council members were still discussing its details late in the evening.

The draft climate action plan is an 80-page document that spells out how city residents and businesses can cut emissions 30 percent from levels seen in the mid-1990s by 2020.

Clark said the intent of the plan is not to limit development or economic growth, but rather to use it as a guide to create a more environmentally-friendly community and increase participation in the city's green building program.

Clark focused on efficiency, sustainability, conservation and renewable energy generation.

Key actions in the report included:

  • Reduce water use by 10 percent
  • Increase participation in residential energy efficiency programs by 25 percent
  • Expand the amount of energy efficient commercial space by 30 percent
  • Reduce car trips within town by 30 percent
  • Increase public bus ridership by 50 percent
  • Reduce regional workforce single occupancy vehicle commutes by 30 percent
  • Become zero organic waste city
  • Increase number of residential solar systems to 1,000 by 2012 and 5,000 by 2020. There are currently 500.

"There is no silver bullet, but plenty of opportunities to address climate change," Clark said.

 (read online version)

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