SDGBC 2014 Conference: Local Policy Implementation Case Studies

Panelists: Douglas Kot (moderator, SDGBC board member, DNV GL), Nicole Capretz (City of San Diego), Wayne Chiu (San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board), Colleen Foster (City of Oceanside)

Climate Action Plan for City of San Diego

Nicole Capretz is the director of policy for the City of San Diego and has been actively involved in the development of the city's Climate Action Plan, which is considered to be one of the most ambitious climate policy plans for any city in entire the state, if not the country.

Working with council members, and responding to feedback from the public, the city's plan includes some measures that are enforceable and mandatory. During Todd Gloria's reign as interim mayor for the city, he directed Capretz to move forward with the plan's development saying that climate change was, "one of the most significant issues affecting humanity."

UCSD Professor Keeling made a presentation to City Council that was instrumental in increasing understanding of the direct impacts that climate change would have on our city, and our people.

There are three primary purposes of the Climate Action Plan

  1. Roadmap to achieve Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions
  2. Comply with CA laws (AB 32/EO-305)
  3. Implement and mitigate the 2008 general plan

Five bold strategies outlined in the plan for achieving these goals include:

  1. Energy and water efficient buildings (SD working towards a net zero energy building code, expansion of the PACE program)
  2. Clean and renewable energy (one example is a concept known as "community choice energy")
  3. Biking, walking and transit (focusing on transportation corridors, more bike lanes, bike sharing program)
  4. Zero waste (waste diversion, recycling, capturing gas from landfills)
  5. Climate resiliency (increase tree coverage, urban tree planting program)

Regional MS4 Permit: A New Approach to Achieving Health Waters

Wayne Chiu is an engineer and has worked with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. MS4 stands for municipal separate storm sewer system permitting program and is administered under the Clean Water Act.

The goal of the MS4 permit is to restore the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of receiving waters and is accomplished through two primary means:

  1. Prohibit non-storm water discharges into storm sewers
  2. Control discharge of pollutants into storm water

The previous program was an action-based plan involving reporting. The data was voluminous, but lacked quality for making better informed decisions. A constant tug-of-war existed between the city and permittees. The new program, however, is based on outcomes with the goal of aligning priorities, resources and strategies.

The permit currently covers 8 municipal jurisdictions in San Diego County. By 2016, both Orange and Riverside Counties will be included. There are multiple incentivized strategies for harvesting and reusing storm water, recharging groundwater and augmenting the water supply. The new permit now includes on-site and off-site alternative compliance programs for new developments.

The final plan is due to be adopted in June, 2015.

Oceanside: On the Road to Zero

Colleen Foster pioneered the City of Oceanside's zero waste program. When Colleen began working for the city, she was the only person on their conservation team which has fluctuated between 1 and 2.5 full-time equivalents over the past 9 years.

Foster shared a tip for getting people to show up to meetings. Nobody shows up to meetings about recycling, so she stole the trashcans from every staff member and left a note saying that if they wanted their trashcans back, they'd have to come to a meeting on waste reduction. Every employee attended the meeting. Also, by focusing a waste reduction resolution on how it would benefit businesses, success was virtually guaranteed.

One example of the success of the program so far: Oceanside Unified School District's 75% reduction in waste resulted in annual savings of $100,000 - or, the cost of hiring an additional teacher. The district is the first in the nation to adopt a zero waste plan by 2020.