ENCINITAS — Voting 6-1 in favor, the city’s Environmental Commission on June 11 passed a recommendation to City Council to declare a “climate emergency.”
The Climate Emergency Declaration, authored by Commission Vice Chair James Wang, recognizes the “egregious dangers imposed by climate change,” recommending the City Council pass a resolution declaring a Climate Emergency.
During the previous meeting on May 14, the commission rejected the recommendation in a 4-3 split, opting to return the report to the subcommittee for refining.
The report presented on June 11 included changes discussed during the May 14 meeting.
John Eldon, the only commissioner to vote against the recommendation, questioned the purpose of the declaration itself.
“I still see [the report] as a blank check to City Council. Sorry, I’m not going to approve it,” Eldon said. “I’ve seen the term ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ too many times, bandied about as an excuse for excessive government power.”
District 2 City Council candidate Susan Turney once again expressed concerns with the report, stating “the city will declare an emergency, provide zero transparency as to what that means in practice and use its new emergency designation to grant itself the power to bypass code and city policies” without any public input.
Turney sent a similar letter to the City Council, which was read aloud at the meeting on June 10.
Wang, the author of the report, addressed Eldon’s and Turney’s concerns.
“We are recommending that we make a statement,” Wang said of the Environmental Commission. “The Council sets the policy. It’s my understanding that the [commission] is not developing new procedures, but just prioritizing climate action in everything we do.”
“We are not declaring an emergency. We don’t have that ability. We are an advisory commission, so [this report] will go before the council to declare the emergency. That is the opportunity for the public to speak to the City Council about it.”
“It is an opportunity for our city to publicly state and recognize that this issue is urgent. I don’t see this extending anybody’s powers, authority, or costing anything,” Wang said.
The recommendation will proceed to the City Council for debate.
In addition, the commission voted Ari Novy as chair and Christian Adams as vice-chair for 2020-2021, as well as established the subcommittee of Commissioners Inge Bisconer, Carol Wolf and Novy to draft the 2020-2021 work plan.