City of Gonzales: Start with a Bold Plan, Then Make it Happen
City of Gonzales Community Development Director and Building Official Matthew Sundt encourages other cities to review their Climate Action Plan (CAP) and/or others, and reverse engineer it to meet their own needs. Getting a CAP approved and off the ground “gives you cover, and makes life really easy for subsequent CEQA procedures,” he says. “Otherwise, one would essentially have to submit every project estimate emissions impacts for every CEQA document.” And, that it may take smaller projects and programs to get a CAP started. The City of Gonzales’s CAP is a result of its “Gonzales Grows Green” Sustainable Community Initiative (G3 Initiative), an outgrowth of the city’s Vision Statement adopted in 2005. The G3 Initiative was built around three principles:
- Economic Viability: Diversify and grow;
- Environmental Responsibility: Do the right thing; and
- Social Equity: Educate, provide context and relevance for and to all city residents
Recycling initiatives and solar power development at the city’s wastewater treatment plant were all projects that came out of the G3 Initiative. It covered everything the city was actually doing. “The city and City Manager were very smart and motivated to think outside the box; and because of that, we had a Gonzales Grows Green plan even before we had a CAP, which led to the General Plan and CAP,” says Sundt. The city made sure its limited staff had the bandwidth and support to implement and oversee programs important to it and its communities.
Gonzales’ CAP, which outlines how the community plans to achieve emissions reductions per state mandates, was funded by the city, and designed with Zero City, a consultant on comprehensive city and climate action planning, with the intent of developing a community-scale renewable energy project. They used Cal EEMOD’s emissions estimator created by CARB.
“It’s about core beliefs and a commitment to those beliefs. Catch the vision in your city and begin down that path of discovery and making it happen.” – Matthew Sundt, City of Gonzales Community Development Director