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Santa Monica Adopts $800 Million Plan to Fight Climate Change

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

May 29, 2019 -- Santa Monica Tuesday night embarked on an $800 million 10-year plan to fight climate change that is likely the most costly and ambitious initiative of its kind for a city its size in the nation.

The Climate Action Plan unanimously approved by the City Council charts a detailed path for government, residents and businesses that would lead to an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

The plan -- which includes $383 million worth of initiatives already taken by the City, as well as major new capital investments -- will serve as a model for other cities, officials said.

"We've only done the easy stuff so far," said Dean Kubani, Santa Monica's chief environmental officer, who is retiring this year. "What we're talking about is really hard.

"It's a paradigm shift," he told the Council. "It's transformative."

The $800 million price tag is costly, Kubani said but "we're talking about a climate crisis now. It's going to cost a lot more if we don't do this."

The plan -- which calls for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner -- features initiatives that have been in place for years, including action plans to achieve water self-sufficiency by 2023 and zero waste by 2030.

It also calls for new initiatives that will require major shifts in the local economy, buildings and transportation.

The later two "will increasingly shift away from fossil-fuel use and will be powered by clean, renewable electricity," City officials said.

Some of those changes already are taking place, they said.

"Within the past two years, we have seen increasing momentum and changes in the development of autonomous vehicles, ride hailing, energy services, and waste management technologies," officials said in a statement after the meeting.

"These advancements could speed up carbon reduction efforts."

The Climate Action Plan also includes "comprehensive plans" for adopting to climate change as heat waves, coastal smog and wildfires occur more frequently and rising sea levels pose a lorger-term threat.

Officials paint a gloomy picture that sees rising temperatures causing more power outages, years of alternating storms and droughts and crowds flocking to the coast -- bringing both increased traffic and business.

"Continuing our legacy of local climate action is essential to the health and vitality of our planet, people, and economy," Mayor Gleam Davis said after the meeting.

"Santa Monicans set the bar for local stewardship of our planet and I’m confident we will continue to do so with this plan to guide us.”

City Manager Rick Cole emphasized that the plan must be implemented in stages that will require further Council actions and funding.

"Just because we adopt a plan doesn't mean we have the money, the political will and the implementation capacity to do all that," he said. "That's the hard work that lies ahead.

"This is a definitive and powerful and specific road map to where the Council is committed, but it's only a road map," Cole said. "We'll have to take the journey."

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