Candidates for District 2 on San Diego’s Progress on Its Climate Action Plan

by on April 15, 2022 · 0 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

The San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board sent a 10-question survey to the five viable six candidates in the San Diego City Council District 2 race. OB Rag staff rearranged their responses on an issue by issue basis so readers can view them “side-by-side.”

Q: How satisfied are you with the progress the city has made on its Climate Action Plan and how will you ensure its legally binding goals are met? Specifically, what would you do to reduce carbon emissions?

Lori Saldaña

Moderately satisfied. Outreach, planning, and promotion has been extensive. It remains to be seen if sufficient budget allocations will pay for execution.

Every city department needs to educate and encourage employees to think in terms of meeting Climate Action Plan goals. Reward employees who provide innovative proposals that are implemented and result in significant progress towards meeting Climate Action Plan goals.

Specific land use recommendations: Add a “Climate Action Review” to all lease and development agreements. Examine existing properties for ways to conserve and generate on-site microgrids. If there are feasible options for on-site power micro-grids, add them to the lease.

Example: On Feb. 7, the City Council prepared to approve three-50 year lease extensions for hundreds of affordable senior homes on city property. The property manager had agreed to over $7 million in various property improvements. However, despite San Diegans paying the highest utility rates in the country, there was no council recommendation to add on-site solar energy. I recommended adding solar panels to reduce residents’ utility bills and save money on common area lighting/heating.

Result: City Councilmember Joe LaCava proposed an amendment to require solar for all three properties; it was approved unanimously, with the agreement of the property management representative. This model needs to be applied to all similar properties.

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

Use the local knowledge and expertise of existing city advisory boards that are working on issues related to Climate Action Plan goals, and have them review and determine if implementation goals are being met and present regular progress reports to the City Council and the Mayor’s Office. Ensure full membership on each board and commission, and assign review authority for energy to the Sustainable Energy Advisory Board, on which there are currently five vacant positions; for transportation to Mobility; for resiliency: to Forestry, Wetlands Advisory, Tidelands Council and Mission Bay Park

To reduce carbon emissions? Establish a San Diego public power agency to generate local energy that will be cleaner, less expensive, and safer vs. transmitting power from hundreds of miles away. Create partnerships of citizen task forces and advisory boards with private companies hired to investigate options for a community-owned utility. We have residents with expertise and an interest in fully investigating options.

San Diegans are paying twice the national average for electricity. Sacramento area residents and businesses are paying nearly half what San Diegans pay, and they have an independently elected board of directors accountable to utility customers. Our geographic location gives us incredible potential for generating solar power, coupled with battery storage arrays throughout the city. I serve on the Board of Protect Our Communities Foundation, which has advanced a blueprint to create a public power agency, and create more jobs, business opportunities and access to solar for all customers (e.g., on-bill financing).

Joel Day

A: To tackle the challenges of climate resiliency, we need a better plan. I’ve been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, because I’m taking a systems-wide approach to climate action — from firefighting investments and resilient infrastructure, to how we build new, green, walkable neighborhoods.

I believe we need a senior level climate expert with executive authority who can cut across departments and integrate efforts across City Hall and partner agencies. I will use the City Council’s budget authority to create the post of Chief Resiliency Officer — a position that over 100 cities have already created to actually implement their climate plans. The Chief Resiliency Officer would report directly to the mayor and council, with power across Sustainability, Development, Planning, Emergency Management, and more.

It’s time to address the methane problem in our landfills. Cutting methane is a linchpin for our Climate Action Plan and must be dealt with in this decade. A better plan would allow us to create green energy through new plasma gasification technology — turning waste into clean energy without emissions or toxic waste. Such technology would eliminate 95 percent of waste, achieving the Climate Action Plan goal of zero waste by 2040. It would also provide an investment in the Green New Deal promise of good, green jobs for workers as we decarbonize the grid.

Finally, it is critical to hold the Department of Government Affairs accountable for an aggressive agenda with the federal and state government. In the state’s most recent budget, about $1 billion of $3.7 billion is to be made available for local grants, and I will ensure our city gets its fair share.

Mandy Havlik

Q: How satisfied are you with the progress the city has made on its Climate Action Plan and how will you ensure its legally binding goals are met? Specifically, what would you do to reduce carbon emissions?

A: I am not satisfied with the progress the city has made on the Climate Action Plan. We need to plan for the effects of global warming today by not building on the tidelands. As sea levels rise, our coastal waters will become marshlands protecting our coasts from the effects of projected sea level rise. 2035 is just around the corner on a problem this massive. The typical San Diegan does not know what is in the plan, how much progress we have made to date — supposedly 25 percent — or who and how progress is measured.

In District 2, the easiest way to reduce carbon emissions today is to encourage more remote work or hybrid systems. But that is not enough, we need to make massive investments in our infrastructure that not only will create jobs in our community but also will help make our district more resilient to the effects of global warming.

If we are going to make progress in reducing carbon emissions and prepare for a warming planet, we need a united community-based approach to reducing carbon emissions.

I support rooftop solar expansion and retaining the homeowner tax for neighborhood and solar. There is near universal buy-in for electric vehicles, which is helpful, but roads and sidewalks are in decay and are dangerous for community members to transit. Lacking connectivity in our bike lanes makes them inefficient and unsafe. The current transit system is inefficient and needs to match the needs of our growing city.

But most importantly we need actual leaders at City Hall who will ensure that our city is working toward reducing our carbon emissions without moving the standard. We need to implement policy within the city to change the culture and request city staff to use public transit. We need to set the example of change to what we are asking the public to do.

Finally, I would bring transparency to the process and ensure our community is informed on what City Hall is doing and how it will impact them.

Linda Lukas

A: I support policies and programs that are environmentally sensible in order to optimize and secure our future. I sincerely care about the health of our planet, our natural resources and our health and lifestyles.

An economically reasonable Climate Action Plan that implements carbon-neutral and decarbonization objectives in concert with the availability and utilization of mature, reliable and renewable energy technology is the prudent course that achieves our shared goals.

Our city’s Climate Action Plan is well intended and progressive in design but perhaps a bit overly ambitious in goal setting and timelines. In its current form, our Climate Action Plan remains somewhat vague and abruptly leaps from stage to stage, affording little compromise. Our goal should be to help re-establish a responsible, palatable and equitable culture of acceptance and normalization, a process that, like so many, requires time and education.

I support reduced use and non-use of modalities requiring fossil fuels and natural gases and transitioning to a greater use of alternative energy forms and a plan that includes a repurposing, recycling and/or disposal of the components necessary to produce and store the energy. We have the perfect climate for outdoor active lifestyles. Our city needs to be more walkable and bikeable and offer greater access to efficient, affordable mass/shared transportation.

Additionally, we can incentivize our businesses to offer hybrid work schedules to decrease travel to and from the workplace.

Jen Campbell

A: San Diego has aggressive goals on climate — as we should — but we need more action that actually turns those goals into reality.

One of the first things I did when elected to the City Council was bring forward the ordinance to launch San Diego Community Power, which holds great promise for cleaner energy and lower utility rates. We’re moving forward towards full electrification for new construction and in all city buildings. Just last month, we began taking a hard look at expanding teleworking for city employees, which can save taxpayers money and save workers time in traffic and thus reduce our carbon footprint.

Protecting our air quality and climate is always one of my top priorities — we have only one planet and we all must do our part to keep it safe and healthy for future generations. My primary focus is doubling down on the most impactful path to 100 percent renewable energy while saving ratepayers and taxpayers money on skyrocketing utility costs that are squeezing working families like never before.

So far, we’ve organized seven local governments to join San Diego Community Power, and we should grow it even further so every home and business in the county can reap the rewards of cleaner energy and be part of our regional climate goals. Similarly, our aim for 100 percent clean energy for city buildings by 2035 is the right one, but we can move faster than that to lead by example for the entire region and put many skilled local San Diegans to work.


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