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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 13, 2016 – Struggling to create a climate-change road map to mid century, the City of Santa Monica is asking the community to attend a summit late this month that examines how to rein in some of the City’s environmentally worst, yet most ubiquitous, enemies: Automobiles and buildings.

Santa Monica’s ambitious plans for combating climate change include becoming “carbon neutral,” which means the city would capture as much carbon emissions as emitted annually.

Officials say that means significant, even “transformative,” changes in lifestyle and mindset of those who live and work there, as well as stringent “green” regulations by the City on building, land-use and environmental issues.

“This action plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping us become a resilient, carbon neutral community and prepare for climate change impacts,” organizers of the summit said.

The City summit is Saturday, October 29, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Monica Catholic Community, 725 California Avenue, in the Grand Pavilion. It is free and childcare is provided, but registration is required.

More information is available at

Organizers are hoping to draw both residents and people who work in Santa Monica. The population is estimated at 93,640 and the workforce totals another estimated 69,000 people, although as a top tourist destination the bayside city attracts nearly 8 million visitors as well each year.

The event will focus on developing the City’s next Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, and follows its 15 x 15 project, which finished in 2015 with a 20 percent cut in emissions, going beyond its original goal of a 15 percent reduction by last year’s deadline.

The new plan reaches to 2030 and 2050.

Car-clogged like much of LA, the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area, Santa Monica generates 64 percent of its pollution from vehicles, or the equivalent generated by employees from outside the city who drive alone to and from work, City officials say.

Only one in ten employees in Santa Monica lives in the beach city -- and most commute on gridlock freeways and roads to get to work, statistics show.

Only 12 percent of those employees carpool, while eight percent take the bus, five percent ride bikes and 1 percent use rail, although that is expected to increase as more passengers take the Expo Light Rail extension to Santa Monica that opened May 20.

Trying to reverse years of flagging ridership, the Big Blue Bus system has realigned its routes to mesh with the new Expo line. The City’s ultimate goal for BBB is 200,000 boardings annually.

Officials hope to reduce vehicle miles traveled by single-occupant drivers to 100,000 and increase biking and walking by 15 percent. It also is placing an emphasis on electric vehicles and charging stations.

Commercial buildings and residential units account for 26 percent of pollution in Santa Monica, the City said. To improve, the City has negotiated more than 700,000 square feet in development to meet higher efficiency standards and hopes to increase energy efficiency of new buildings by 10 percent.

Other goals are to reduce citywide energy use by one million kilowatts annually and increase solar use by five megawatts, according to officials.

Pushing the City’s climate action goals is data that shows moderate warming by an average of 3°F, more days of temperatures higher than 95 degrees, an average loss of water from snowfall and spring melt of as much as 42 percent, a rise in sea levels of between five and 24 inches and increasing Santa Ana winds and wildfires.

Santa Monica’s earlier 15 x 15 climate plan met several of its goals, in part by starting a first-of-its-kind bike sharing program, using cleaner-running buses and requiring more energy efficient buildings.

Officials noted the City did so as the population, commercial activity and tourism grew.

“This reality demonstrates that Santa Monica, and other communities, have the potential to enjoy prosperity and economic growth without increasing the environmental impact that was historically associated: decoupling carbon emissions and economic development,” the report said.

“As a coastal city in an arid climate zone, our city is particularly vulnerable to the potential adverse impacts of severe climate change due to human activity,” said Dean Kubani, the City’s sustainability manager.

“The example of Santa Monica and other local communities have helped catalyze California’s internationally-significant efforts to mitigate climate change.”

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