It’s the environment, stupid

Activists cheer vote on climate action plan, clamor for water conservation

On Wednesday, July 23, the San Diego City Council's Environmental Committee passed a resolution urging mayor Kevin Faulconer to move forward with finalizing the city's Climate Action Plan. Discussion of the plan has mostly been out of the spotlight since its introduction by interim mayor and council president Todd Gloria in February.

Local environmental activist groups have long championed the plan and celebrated the 3-1 resolution vote, which was supported by council members David Alvarez and Marti Emerald. Ed Harris, filling in at the District 2 spot until Lorie Zapf moves from her District 6 seat to replace him, also voted in favor. Zapf was the lone dissenting vote.

"San Diego is already experiencing the impacts of climate change — from the recent droughts and wildfires, to the health impacts of heat waves and air pollution – and these impacts disproportionately burden low-income neighborhoods," said Kayla Race of the Environmental Health Coalition in a release following the vote. Race is also a member of the city-sponsored Economic and Environmental Sustainability Task Force.

So far, the only notable action from the mayor's office was a a budgetary nod from Faulconer in May, which proposed to create a $200,000 "sustainability program manager" that would oversee implementation of the plan once adopted.

The resolution will go before the full council sometime in August.

Meanwhile, San Diego Coastkeeper went before the committee to protest the city's decision not to take on additional water-conservation measures despite severe drought conditions plaguing the state that Coastkeeper and others believe represent a "new normal" for California.

"Governor Jerry Brown has asked for statewide water conservation of 20 percent, and the City of San Diego contributed to an 8 percent increase in water use — how is it acceptable to not take action?" asks Matt O'Malley with Coastkeeper. "We don't want the city to be a bad actor. At a bare minimum, it must follow the State Water Board's regulations and enact its level two drought-response conditions to ensure this region does its part to reduce water use."

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