City of Santa Cruz: Visualizing Change to Address Climate Impacts

The City of Santa Cruz, a city with nearly eight times the population of Gonzales, adopted its Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2012 to outline its course of actions over a 10-year period to reduce greenhouse gasses by 30%. With more or less the same amount of staff as Gonzales, the city’s Sustainability and Climate Action Manager, Dr. Tiffany Wise-West, oversees its Climate Action Program, which includes monitoring and tracking progress on 12 milestone CAP goals, completing GHG inventories as well as managing climate adaptation planning, the Go Solar Santa Cruz! program and Resilient Coast Santa Cruz initiative. View highlights of their 2019 progress, budget set-aside for their 2021 Climate & Energy Action Plan 2030, and their visual representation on the connections between coronavirus and the climate crisis.

One of the first things Dr. Wise-West did to establish a CAP was to quantify past and current GHG emissions from the municipality and community sources such as transportation, residential homes, business, and industry. This data allowed them to identify “key emissions sectors, prioritize reduction strategies, and set initial reduction levels from which to track program success.” Also, it shows the reductions the city and community have made to date. So far, they’ve completed four GHG Emissions Inventories.

With climate change and rising tides, stronger coastal storms and erosion are posing continuous threats to Santa Cruz’ beaches, roads and other coastal infrastructure. Damages to infrastructure and property alone are estimated to reach over $1 billion by the end of the century. The city’s most recent program, Resilient Coast Santa Cruz, addresses these concerns and is currently providing the community with an opportunity to learn and share feedback. Residents can view storyboards and surveys online or by mobile, which include background information on projected impacts to the city’s coastline and adaptation pathways for each section derived from community and technical input.