ESCONDIDO – The Escondido City Council met on Wednesday, July 21 to discuss whether or not to submit an application for grant funding for the Green Infrastructure Plan and add it to the city’s Work Plan.
A source of grant funding was recently identified, but the council did not authorize staff to submit an application for the grant, voting 3-2 against the motion.
At the city level, green infrastructure includes “greening” streets, buildings, waterways and parking lots, as well as establishing new parks and open spaces for recreation, according to city staff.
If implemented, green infrastructure would be installed in the city’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) Priority Investment Neighborhoods.
These are neighborhoods that are moderate to lower income and would be prioritized in the implementation process.
According to the staff report, benefits of green infrastructure include improved walkability and use of public transit, less crime and more traffic safety, lower impact of extreme heat events and it aligns with Escondido’s CAP.
The grant would have been funded by the California Resilience Challenge.
The council heard several public comments on the issue, including one from the Escondido Creek Conservancy urging the council to move forward with the plan.
“Every resident should have the ability to experience the restorative benefits of nature within walking distance from where they live,” said Ron Forster from the Escondido Creek Conservancy. “Nature is resilient, and with proper planning, we can quickly and economically bring green spaces… to our most urban areas.”
Councilman Mike Morasco opposed adding Green Infrastructure to the Work Plan, suggesting that the city is already working on implementing a lot of those measures in the city’s General Plan, the Climate Action Plan and the Parks and Trails Master Plan.
“All of these, staff is already working on, all are already taking an extensive amount of time and cost to the taxpayers,” Morasco said. “I’m confused why we would want to add an additional layer and create an additional commission… I believe that we’re already delving into that and attacking that and we don’t have the funding for it right now.”
Councilman Joe Garcia and Councilwoman Tina Inscoe were the other 2 no votes, while Mayor Paul McNamara and Councilwoman Consuelo Martinez supported the initiative.
The council also voted 3-2 not to allow Planning Division staff to work with the Planning Commission on the items in the work plan.
Councilmember Consuelo Martinez also gave a presentation on business sign regulations during COVID-19 in preparation for discussing whether to keep relaxed regulations in place.
The council will further discuss these regulations at a future meeting.