Planning for a Sustainable Central Coast

Climate, Resilience, Sustainability, & Adaptation

COver 300 organizations from across the Central Coast registered to attend the March 31st policy session of the Central Coast Climate Action Summit Series. A mix of nonprofits, businesses, academic institutions, individual citizens, elected officials, and staff representing over 30 jurisdictions came together to learn, celebrate and activate climate action and sustainability planning. Participants, whether new to climate action planning or in the middle of implementation, gained insight into equitable solutions and networked with colleagues throughout the region.

Moderated by Greenpower and blessed by Chumash and Ohlone tribal leaders, the session featured presenters from Santa Barbara and Monterey County, the cities of San Luis Obispo (SLO), Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Gonzales including representatives from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Central Coast Community Energy (3CE), Associated Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), SLO Climate Coalition and Ecology Action. All played a role in defining what a roadmap to success could look like for the region. Participants left inspired and more aware of the available local- and state-level resources and planning tools designed to make the work of creating, adopting, and implementing climate action plans easier, faster, and affordable.

Participants had the opportunity to connect and share their questions and ideas on ways climate action planning can be done equitably and affordably. Over the last year, COVID-19 has created a public health crisis and an economic crisis. As cities and counties design economic recovery plans, there is a tremendous opportunity for accelerating the rate of economic recovery through the adoption of sustainable solutions. The Central Coast Climate Action Summit Series was designed to shed light on the opportunity that climate planning IS economic recovery planning where we can reimagine thriving local institutions and industries, face challenges with collaborative solutions, and engage our communities with equity at the core.

Stay tuned for a full event recap and a list of resources from Greenpower. Thank you to all partners involved in the planning of this session: Greenpower, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, CSU Monterey Bay, Central Coast Climate Collaborative, Ecology ActionSLO Climate Coalition, and Community Environmental Council

The full event can be enjoyed in the video below and you can explore the event slides here.

The Central Coast Climate Summit Series brought together policy experts, public agencies, and community stakeholders for a chance to take stock of the successes and the next steps in regional climate action planning.

From ordinances that move the pendulum toward more sustainable cities to multi-jurisdictional collaborations and creative, high-tech ways to help envision future sea-level rise, the March 31 event was a chance to highlight the many ways in which cities and counties across the Central Coast are embracing the challenges ahead.

Multiple jurisdictions have completed or are updating climate action plans, said Amaury Berteaud, Special Projects Manager in charge of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) Sustainability Program, with lessons and inspiration to be drawn from them:

* Declaring a climate action emergency, the City of Santa Cruzprohibited natural gas infrastructure in new buildings. The new code went into effect on July 1, 2020.

* The City of San Luis Obispo, which adopted a similar Clean Energy Choice Program and has a bold vision of attaining climate neutrality by 2030, will be among those presenting at the Summit.

*Central Coast Community Energy(3CE) has several building energy programs designed to assist new and existing buildings with the transition from fossil fuels like natural gas to clean and renewable energy sources. One of those, its Reach Code Incentive Program, offers a $15,000 one-time incentive to jurisdictions to offset staff costs associated with the adoption of a reach code ordinance. In January, it launched two new incentive programs: a New Construction Electrification Program that supports housing developers in building clean all-electric housing projects and wildfire-impacted homeowners in rebuilding clean all-electric homes in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties with an added option for EV charging station funding.

* AMBAG’s climate resilience study for Highway 1 at Moss Landing is another great example of collaboration with lots of stakeholders addressing the issue of how best to adapt to climate change on a transportation corridor with significant ecological impacts, said Berteaud.

* The City of Santa Cruz embraced new technology to help educate stakeholders in creative, insightful, and practical ways, working with Virtual Planet Technologies on a multi-media, interactive Virtual Reality (VR) application to help the community better understand the impacts of climate change as well as explore emerging adaptation solutions for three city locations.

* Through its Carbon Fund Ordinance, which imposes a carbon fee on development projects other than clean energy buildings, the City of Watsonville has been able to incentivize renewable energy projects while also creating a revenue source for citywide greenhouse gas reduction projects.

* Local jurisdictions have made much progress through policies and measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says Berteaud, as they work toward the state’s ambitious emissions reduction targets, ultimately aiming for carbon neutrality by 2045. Last fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an executive order requiring all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2035, along with additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector. That will require a broad cross-section of actions, from getting people to embrace zero-emission vehicles and public transit to create adequate infrastructure to support those, along with safe and accessible bicycle and pedestrian options.

“These are very ambitious targets, and our cities are doing things to help meet those targets,” says Berteaud. “Definitely, all of these programs that exist show that the region has the resources.”

“The macro picture is that climate change is real,” says Berteaud. “We need to meet these targets, and in order to meet these targets, we need to electrify and stop using natural gas. How do we create a plan to help us do all that?”

Thank you for joining Greenpower, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, CSU Monterey Bay, the Central Coast Climate Collaborative, Ecology Action, San Luis Obispo Climate Coalition, and the Community Environmental Council for this policy session as part of the Climate Summit Series. Following the academic and business sessions, this third and final session on policy and advocacy will complete the Central Coast Climate Summit Series. 

Also, please be sure to sign up for MBEP’s Action Center Alerts to stay informed about ways you can support climate action planning in your community.