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San Diego City Council Passes Climate Change Resolution On Party-Line Vote

Low water levels are seen at the San Luis Reservoir near Gustine, California,...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Low water levels are seen at the San Luis Reservoir near Gustine, California, June 8, 2014.

The resolution calls for the plan to require 100 percent of the energy used in the city by 2035 to come from clean and local sources, require owners of existing buildings to significantly reduce energy demand, significantly reduce waste in San Diego and more.

The City Council on Monday called on Mayor Kevin Faulconer to issue a climate action plan to get the city on a more eco-friendly path, including having 100 percent of the energy used in San Diego by 2035 to come from clean and local sources.

The City Council also wants the plan to include boosting the number of trees and parks, bolstering the city's ability to cope with rising sea levels, wildfires, droughts and heat waves and getting building owners to cut energy use.

Lawmakers also hope to have at least half of the daily commutes made by residents to be by mass transit, bicycle or on foot by 2035 in areas where high quality transit exists.

Several members of the panel have said recently that they don't think Faulconer is moving quickly enough on the plan, which will outline actions the city would take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The mayor's office said that work is proceeding on a pace originally envisioned. An update to a draft previously approved by the council could be released by the end of the month, and final adoption could happen in the spring.

While several council members said they were troubled by the timing of the resolution, council President Todd Gloria said it was within the panel's purview to set expectations for such a plan.

"It would make no sense to have the mayor propose a climate action plan that this council cannot support," Gloria said. "I believe that the mayor understands this is an issue that needs addressing, that I believe he understands that we want to be bold about it, and that the ultimate plan has to be tangible, measurable and enforceable."

None of the speakers in nearly 90 minutes of public comment opposed the plan as a whole, but leaders of real estate groups expressed concern that property owners could be forced to make upgrades before being allowed to sell their homes.

"This will require thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses to a homeowner before they could sell their home," said Leslie Kilpatrick, the president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. The provision would be costly and have only a minor impact on greenhouse gas emissions, she said.

Gloria and Councilman David Alvarez, the author of the resolution, said the so-called "point-of-sale retrofit mandate" would be part of the discussion before a final plan is adopted.

The resolution passed on a 5 to 3 party-line vote, with council members Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf opposed. They said they objected to the timing of the resolution, but looked forward to the upcoming release of the updated draft plan.

A statement released earlier Monday by the mayor's office said, "Since Mayor Faulconer took office this spring, his administration has been working to bring forward for public review a climate action plan that will be broadly supported by the environmental community, business community, City Council and the public.

"Mayor Faulconer looks forward to a collaborative discussion with San Diegans about the draft plan when it is released in the coming weeks," the statement continued. "Following the required public review of the draft plan, it is scheduled to be brought to a public hearing in the same time frame expected under interim Mayor Gloria, which is spring 2015."


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