ENCINITAS — City Council unanimously approved the Environmental Advisory Commission’s two-year work plan on Sept. 16.
Commission chairwoman Elizabeth Taylor gave the council an update on the board’s progress and future plans. The new work plan laid out broad general directives for the group as well as specific measures to be completed.
The commission was established in the fall of 2008 after the council agreed that an environmental committee was insufficient to carry out the necessary work of integrating sustainability measures throughout the various initiatives and programs by the city.
Taylor gave a status update of the commission’s activities for the previous year, which included several environmental recommendations to the council. A draft environmental policy crafted by the commission was approved by the council in October 2008.
The group also worked closely with city staff to identify existing city programs that could become “greener.”
One of the main contributions of the commission is to promote public environmental awareness and education according to Taylor. During “Earth Month” in April 2009, the commission organized several informational activities for the public including a speaker series, water saving contest and a pilot program to reduce the carbon footprint at City Hall. It also worked with other organizations in support of Encinitas Environment Day.
One of the most successful ways to engage the public is through the city’s Web site, Taylor told the council. “We’d like that to be a one-stop shop,” Taylor said. The commission is exploring ways to use the Web site to identify environmental programs and conservation efforts throughout each city department. The public would have easy access to information about the various environmental initiatives and partnerships at the city level.
Looking ahead, Taylor told the council that the environmental action plan included both short- and long-term goals and objectives. A public workshop will be held Sept. 29 to gather input from residents.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth commended the commission for the amount of work it has done thus far. “You all hit the ground running,” she said.
Councilman Jim Bond questioned the commission’s role in stimulating the economy as stated in the work plan. “What does that look like?” he asked. Taylor said the commission would help identify businesses that are “sustainable” in the city and encourage residents to patronize them.
Bond said he was concerned that the commission was “biting into an elephant” with its participation in the development of a climate action plan for the city. Taylor said the role of the commission would be to give input to city staff and the consultant working on the plan. “Hopefully you’ll be looking at the best of the best (of all plans),” Bond said.