My, How Life Has Changed – Reflections on Growing up in San Diego

By STAY COOL member Sue Randerson

Sue Randerson on Thanksgiving with her grandsons, Taylor and Cole completing a puzzle.

Sue Randerson on Thanksgiving with her grandsons, Taylor and Cole completing a puzzle.

I grew up in San Diego when it was a much smaller town than it is today. Cows grazed on grass-covered hills beside old highway 101, where University City is now. You could walk the beaches and find lots of seashells, and abalone and lobster could be found in chest-deep water.

Traffic was light. A drive from San Diego to Del Mar took ½ hour any time of day. Now the freeways are clogged for several hours every morning and afternoon, with cars crawling along at snail speed, and it takes an hour for the same trip. Imagine how many tons of CO2 are emitted by those cars.

Swimming in the ocean, finding shells and looking for sea creatures in kelp as well as riding horseback and hiking in the Cuyamaca mountains gave me a love for nature, and led to my becoming a docent at Scripps Aquarium and Birch Aquarium. After several years I was asked to teach an outreach program.

During that time I received training about global climate change for a new program at our Discovery Lab. I got to hear about the Keeling Curve and the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere since the Industrial revolution, and how it is increasing even faster now, from climate scientists like SIO Professor Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan. I was very impressed and read as much as I could about climate change.

For several years I taught a two-day program on climate change in elementary schools, with lots of hands-on activities. Meanwhile, I watched the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase year by year, from 315 parts per million (ppm) when Charles Keeling began his measurements on Mauna Loa in 1956 until now, when they are above 400ppm most of the time.

We are already seeing the effects of climate change, with series of giant storms, wildfires, ocean acidification which is affecting coral reefs and the ability of mollusks and other sea creatures to build their shells. We’re also experiencing the warmest years on record.

Sue participates in a City of San Diego public hearing on the Climate Action Plan on November 30, 2015

Sue participates in a City of San Diego public hearing on the Climate Action Plan on November 30, 2015

I want to do what I can to encourage our citizens and elected officials to do everything possible to halt the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The future of our grandchildren, and, even more, our great-grandchildren, will be bleak indeed if we do not succeed in reducing CO2 levels and halting the increase in global temperatures. That is why I joined STAY COOL for Grandkids as soon as I learned about it.

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Message Points for San Diego CAP Public Comments

On Tuesday, December 15 the San Diego City Council will vote to adopt the city’s Climate Action Plan. Review the plan here.

Citizens, and especially STAY COOL members, are encouraged to show public support for this measurable, enforceable plan. Please consider attending the meeting on Dec. 15 to voice your support. Or, if you can not make it in person please submit a comment online here in the days before the hearing.

Not sure about what to say in your testimony? Here are some message points to get you started:

  • I am a grandparent (or parent) concerned about the likely risks global warming poses for our children and grandkids.
  • Climate change is a local government issue, just like education, good roads and crime prevention. When global warming affects our citizens, they will want to know what city hall has done to prepare for climate change.
  • I’m here today to commend the city for incorporating aggressive targets for greenhouse gas reductions in a climate action plan that will build in measurable, enforceable policies.
  • In San Diego, we value our quality of life; yet we are so vulnerable to global warming threats like a water storage, heat waves, sea level rise and poor air quality. We only have one chance to do this right. Let’s commit to leaving future generations with the same opportunity to enjoy our unique quality of life.
Bob Leiter at the November 30 2015 Environment Committee hearing on the San Diego CAP

Bob Leiter at the November 30 2015 Environment Committee hearing on the San Diego CAP

Additional message points from our partners at San Diego 350.org:

  • Support the legally binding, Climate Action Plan with 100% Clean Energy for all; compact, mixed use development; and real alternative transportation options.
  • Get started implementing these right away; support the “fast track” implementation plan.
  • Ensure 2016 budget fully funds the Climate Plan’s implementation.
  • Support the new sub-committee of Environment Committee that will oversee the Climate Plan’s implementation (the committee will be announced on Nov 30 and will include CM Alvarez and public stakeholders).
  • Community Plan Updates must support the CAP and the City needs develop a CAP consistency checklist for CPUs.
  • The plan should protect the communities who are most impacted by climate change and create good quality, local jobs.
  • This is the fight of our generation! We must stop the pollution and climate craziness that threatens our families’ health, our beautiful city, our infrastructure, our wildlife, and our livelihoods!

 

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November 4, 2015 STAY COOL Meeting Summary – Speaker Len Hering

Thank you to the 24 attendees who joined our member meeting on November 4th. We heard from Rear Admiral Len Hering, USN (retired), Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy, about effects of global warming on national security and energy planning.IMG_0517

Our speaker’s opening slide showed that, like many of our members, Hering’s focus on the future is motivated by his brilliant and beautiful grandchildren.  He also shared a short, inspirational video in which Morgan Freeman describes the world we want for our grandchildren (available at https://youtu.be/8YQIaOldDU8 ).

Hering’s Navy experiences and background led to a passion to educate people on how and why we must use resources in a more sustainable way.  He is a meteorologist and oceanographer by training and has an advanced business degree. Over 30 years in uniform, he traveled to 63 different countries and sailed every sea. He wore many hats, most notably working to establish alternative energy technology at all levels in Navy facilities. After the Navy, Hering took a VP position at the University of San Diego, where he initiated sustainability measures that led to USD’s installing the largest solar system of any private campus in the country and a comprehensive water abatement project.  He now heads the Center for Sustainable Energy, a key player in our region’s progress toward energy security.

The Navy is actively pursuing new technologies to “green” its fleet and incorporate alternative, sustainable fuels.  A primary driver is that the cost of energy needed to complete Navy missions is becoming more volatile and less secure. Beyond that, Pentagon strategists have called climate change itself an “accelerant of instability.” Navy Admiral Sam Locklear made headlines a couple years ago when he said the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region is climate change. Extreme weather events, sea-level rise, desertification and flooding displace populations and create social instability. (An example is in Syria, where severe multi-year drought exacerbated by global warming led to social unrest, mass migration and war).

The Center for Sustainable Energy is a San Diego-based nonprofit that works with policymakers, officials, public agencies and businesses throughout our region to advance sustainable energy programs. It provides technology and management expertise, training and education, and technical assistance in clean transportation, distributed generation, building performance, energy efficiency, energy storage and renewable energy.  Solutions include renewable energy technologies such as solar, biomass and geothermal, biofuels and electric fleet development, and energy storage.  Examples of CSE programs include electric-vehicle readiness plans, standardizing PEV batteries, supplying shade trees, and incentives for solar installations on multifamily housing. Last month Hering represented CSE at Mayor Faulconer’s announcement of long-term contracts to put solar energy installations on 25 City-owned sites and commended the City’s staff and elected officials for their efforts to make the region “cleaner, greener and more efficient.”

Hering’s work has led him to feel there is urgent need for “adult conversation” about the environmental crises we face. He reviewed devastating world-wide consequences of wasteful consumption, and reminded us how choices we make – about lightbulbs, vehicles, food and packaging, as well as where and how we get power – affect our impact on Earth’s finite resources.

Action Item:  One way STAY COOL members can contribute to the “adult conservation” about global warming is through popular media.  Forums like Letters to the Editor are still important indicators of public concern.  Every headline is an alert to leaders about the issues their constituents and customers care about.

Our colleagues in Citizens Climate Lobby have developed an excellent letter-writing tutorial.  Please download the tutorial here: Letters to the Editor Guidelines (PDF).  And then give it a try!  Select a relevant article about climate change in the coming month and add your thoughts to the discussion.  When you do submit a letter, please let us know about it by emailing a copy to sarah@staycool4grandkids.org.

Coming up:  Save the evening of Thursday, January 14 for our next member meeting.  It will feature Anthony Jackson, USMC Major General (retired) and former head of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, speaking on how global warming is affecting our parklands and national security plans.

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Letter to the Editor: Issa should heed the words of Pope Francis

By David Engel

Pope Francis will address the U.S. Congress soon (“Congress returns to long list of unfinished business,” Sept. 7) to express concerns about the dangers of global warming. Francis stated in his encyclical that science has shown global warming is happening and human activities are responsible. He believes wealthy nations have a moral obligation to act.

Congressman Darrell Issa understands global warming is real but is unwilling to act because he is “worried about costs.”

Pope Francis believes that politicians must act on global warming. He states in his encyclical they should be courageous “and leave behind a testimony of selfless responsibility.”

Mr. Issa should take Pope Francis’ advice to heart.

The climate costs of global warming to our grandchildren should dominate his worries, not short-term costs. Listen to what Pope Francis is saying and act.

Originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, September 17, 2015

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September Meeting Summary – All About Community Choice Energy (CCE)

Thank you to the 28 STAY COOL members and guests who joined us for our meeting on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Our featured speaker was Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of The Climate Action Campaign. Formed in February, 2015, The Climate Action Campaign is the leading local climate action watchdog group, working to ensure that our communities are reducing emissions and preparing for climate change. Nicole, with her small team, works tirelessly with elected officials, staff, volunteers and other citizens to advance climate action policies.

One important policy for reducing emissions through greater use of clean energy is called Community Choice Energy (CCE). CCE allows cities, counties, or groups of cities to pool or “aggregate” electricity customers to form a local agency to provide electricity services to their constituents. Also known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), CCE is like a “hybrid” public/private partnership that gives communities the power to purchase renewable energy on the market, build local clean energy generation, reduce energy demand, and set competitive rates. The existing local investor-owned electric utility, SDG&E here in San Diego County, continues to deliver power to customers and provides standard services such as line maintenance, meter reading, and billing.How CCE Works Graphic

The Climate Action Plan for the City of San Diego sets a goal to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2035. So a key question is whether SDG&E will help us meet this 100% clean energy goal? Presently, 63% of the electricity supplied by SDG&E is from gas-fired power plants. And SDG&E seems to still be focusing on new gas-power infrastructure, recently pursuing a $629M natural-gas pipeline project and new gas-fired power plants in Carlsbad and South County. CCE is a more certain way to fast track investments in renewable energy sources, and move us away from fossil fuel energy.

Nicole shared that CCE system can provide competitive electricity costs, higher rate stability, and faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A local CCE program can be more responsive and could offer customers more money for installing roof-top solar. CCEs bring economic development and clean energy jobs to the community. Communities that have already implemented CCEs are meeting their Climate Action Plans and emissions reduction goals without raising electricity costs. The bottom line: CCEs can result in lower electric rates with a higher renewable energy content. Click here to read a “Fact Check: True” article on this topic from Voice of San Diego.

CCA Growth in CAThe time is right for CCEs – existing market prices for electricity are low and there is an excess supply through 2020 or later. Cities may choose to run a CCE in-house, or there are companies that can provide a turn-key approach. Currently, there are low entry costs, with some cities seeing start-up payback in 6 to 12 months.

The success of existing California community choice programs in Marin and Sonoma County, have drawn notice from other communities to consider offering community choice. According to Nicole, 20 counties are investigating prospects on behalf of more than 100 other municipalities. Solana Beach is currently doing a feasibility study and Encinitas is also looking into feasibility. The City of San Diego has completed a Technical Feasibility Study and they are putting out a “request for proposal” for a Validation Study.

But there is resistance from the utilities. Recent Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) amendment proposals submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission regarding Senate Bill (SB) 350 would limit the ability of local governments to launch Community Choice programs. These changes would hamper local decision making and increase fees. Nicole asked STAY COOL members to call or email Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins about our opposition to all IOU-sponsored amendments to SB 350.

A Steward of Creation was Among Us
Also at the meeting, member Dr. Tom English spoke about his recent trip to Istanbul to present the Steward of Creation Award to Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Orthodox Christian Church. Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians and a long-time leader on creation care practices. He was awarded the Steward of Creation Award by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, an interfaith organization that regularly represents environmental positions before the US Congress, the White House and other government agencies. Past recipients include Tom himself, Bill McKibben and James Hansen. Dr. English is seen here with his wife Jan (both standing to the far right):

TomEnglishinIstanbul

Find Your Inner Lobbyist!
At the end of the evening our members engaged in writing letters to submit to their U.S. Congress representatives. This was in coordination with Grandparents Climate Action Day on September 10, 2015. On this date, the Elders Climate Action organization will take a delegation of a hundred elders to meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill to lobby for climate action.

Want to add your letter to this campaign? Read the below key message points and either send your letter to your congressional rep, or email it to sarah@staycool4grandkids.org. Be sure to mention September 10 is Grandparents Climate Action Day.

Don’t have time to write a letter, or would you prefer to join the online Elders Climate Action petition? Sign it here: http://www.eldersclimateaction.org/petition

Letter writing help: key message points for letters to congress in coordination with Grandparents Climate Action Day, September 10, 2015:

  • I am a concerned grandparent and urge you to take bold action on climate change / global warming, in the name of our future generations.
  • We are already experiencing the warning signs of climate change. I have personally witnessed these changes in my life. Such changes include:
    • More extreme weather including longer droughts, as we have seen here in California, less frequent rains and intense heat waves
    • This extreme weather has resulted in devastating wildfires
    • More intense heat waves and less nighttime cooling also puts vulnerable people (such as elders and children) at risk from health impacts.
    • Especially in San Diego we are experiencing rising ocean levels, worse flooding, warmer average ocean and surface temperatures, and ocean acidification.
    • Disappearing glaciers, melting ice caps and snow fields are all evidence of the impacts of global warming.
    • Mass extinction of animal species because they cannot move fast enough or adapt soon enough to the changes in their habitat.
  • These challenges can be addressed if we act decisively and quickly. Our top climate scientists warn us that we need to bring CO2 levels in our atmosphere back down to 350 parts per million (ppm) or lower. We are currently at 400 ppm and rising by 2-3 ppm annually.
  • There are three ways we can implement action to help avoid catastrophic climate disruption:
    • I urge you to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. This Clean Power Plan will work to fast-track real action in our nation – action that will cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change.
    • Please make binding, international agreements to combat climate change at the UN Paris Climate Summit this November/December. Before this conference, the United States must commit to major greenhouse gas reductions and then negotiate for similar commitments from nations around the world.
    • One such climate change solution is a Carbon Fee and Dividend, a revenue-neutral policy proposal that will encouraging transition to a sustainable energy economy while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions.
  • I am concerned about the world we are leaving for our grandkids. The costs of not acting now will mean larger costs to meet the adverse effects of climate change in the future. We can’t afford not to take action now.
  • We are all “grandparents” to future generations – it is our duty to take action for the sake of a livable planet.

Where to Send Your Letters Congressional Reps:

49th District – northern coastal areas of San Diego County, Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas, as well as a small portion of southern Orange County and Camp Pendleton
The Honorable Darrell Issa
1800 Thibodo Road, #310
Vista, CA 92081

50th District – Escondido, Temecula and north east section of San Diego County
The Honorable Duncan Hunter
1611 N. Magnolia Ave., Ste 310
El Cajon, CA 92020

51st District – city of San Diego, southern portion of the County including Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and parts of Imperial County
The Honorable Juan Vargas
333 F Street, Suite A
Chula Vista, CA 91910

52nd District – coastal and central portions of the city of San Diego, including neighborhoods such as Carmel Valley, La Jolla, Point Loma and Downtown San Diego; Poway and Coronado
The Honorable Scott Peters
4350 Executive Drive, Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92121

53rd District – from I-5 and Balboa Park on the west, through Mission Valley to East County, and continuing south to Chula Vista
The Honorable Susan Davis
2700 Adams Avenue, Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92116

Final Note
Save the date for our next meeting: Wednesday, November 4 featuring Admiral Len Hering, USN (Ret.), Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy. RSVP to sarah@staycool4grandkids.org.

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Community Choice Energy (CCE) – Offering Renewable Energy Choices

On Tuesday, September 1 STAY COOL will host an event on Community Choice Energy (CCE) featuring speaker Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of Climate Action Campaign, which advocates for clean energy choices.

What is CCE?

Community Choice Energy (CCE), provided for by AB 117 (2002), allows cities, counties, or groups of cities to pool or “aggregate” electricity customers to form a local agency to provide electricity services to their constituents. Also knownHow CCE Works Graphic as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), CCE gives communities themselves the power to purchase renewable energy on the market, build local clean energy generation, reduce energy demand, and set competitive rates on behalf of local residential and business customers. The existing investor-owned electric utility, which is SDG&E here in San Diego County, continues to deliver power to customers and provides standard services such as line maintenance, meter reading, and billing.

How does it encourage more use of renewable energy?

Community Choice Energy gives customers a choice in their energy provider. Cities and counties contract with a licensed energy service provider to purchase energy in bulk, build renewable energy generating facilities, and implement energy efficiency programs. This efficient public/private partnership makes it possible to get the greenest energy at competitive or lower rates. Each consumer is enrolled in the program unless they “opt out.” In other words, consumers can choose to buy electricity through the community choice program or stay with the investor-owned utility. The city or county keeps prices competitive—and affordable for low-income residents— while investing in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency with citizen oversight.

Who runs the program and what does a city need to do to get started?

A CCE program hinges on the establishment of a public administrative agency. This agency can conduct studies of potential demand-side and renewable generation resources, develop a plan for deploying such resources, and implement that plan over time through the appropriate procurement mechanisms and long-term power planning.

Cities can get started by creating a citizen-led oversight committee, conducting a feasibility study and building public support.

What are the benefits of CCE?

Analysts believe that a CCE system can provide competitive electricity costs, higher rate stability, and more and faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A local CCE program offers a choice of energy providers and creates competition that encourages clean energy innovation and improved pricing. Local control allows customers to help provide accountability on electric rates.

Furthermore, the development of these local assets involves local investments that bring economic development and clean energy jobs to the community. Today, millions of dollars leave San Diego to pay for electric generation. Over time, a local community choice program can buy increasing amounts of power from local sources, helping support local jobs and local economic development.

Has CCE been successful in other areas?

There are several successful Community Choice Energy programs currently operating in California: the City of Lancaster, Marin and Sonoma Counties. CCE is being actively pursued or considered in dozens of communities across California: San Francisco, South Bay Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterrey, Silicon Valley cities and many others. The city of Encinitas has formed a citizens committee and is currently exploring the pros and cons of a community choice program.

Attend our STAY COOL event on Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 5:30-7:30 pm in Del Mar to learn more about CCE. We’ll hear about successful case studies and learn about ways we can support local CCE programs. Contact Sarah at sarah@staycool4grandkids.org to learn more or to RSVP.

Answers compiled from the Climate Action Campaign http://www.climateactioncampaign.org/ and Local Clean Energy Alliance website resources http://www.localcleanenergy.org.

 

 

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June Meeting Summary Featuring Cleantech San Diego and Sustainable Investing

Thank you to the 30 members who joined us on Tuesday, June 9, to hear from Jason Anderson, president and CEO of Cleantech San DiegoCleantech San Diego has been working for more than seven years to position the greater San Diego region as a global leader in the cleantech economy. The organization’s mission is accelerate clean technology innovation and adoption of sustainable business practices for the benefit of the economy and the environment. More than 100 local businesses, universities, governments, and nonprofits are members or work with Cleantech to advance their mission.

So how has Cleantech San Diego achieved progress over the last seven years? The organization helps to foster collaborations across the private-public-academic landscape, working with the region’s six universities and more than 80 research institutions along with countless non-profit organizations. One program offered by Cleantech San Diego facilitates introductions by allowing tech start-ups to “pitch for partnership” in front of San Diego’s tech leaders.

Jason also leads advocacy efforts to promote a “Smart Cities” initiative with partners that encourages investment in the San Diego cleantech economy. The organization has focused energy recently on advancing bio renewables; helping to create the next fuel to become competitive with petrol. Cleantech’s K-12 School Sustainability Strategy program works with San Diego County’s 45 school districts to implement energy saving and sustainability measures.

The regional achievements that have resulted because of this work are impressive. Currently, there are more than 850 cleantech companies and San Diego is ranked number four in a National Cleantech Leadership Index (up from number 11 in 2012). Forbes ranks San Diego the nation’s number one best place to launch a startup and we are ranked among the top ten cities in the world aiming for 100 percent clean energy.

Jason mentioned that San Diego was the only U.S. city chosen to be profiled in a National Geographic 50-minute documentary on “World’s Smartest Cities.” View a copy of the program online here.

San Diego is regionally focused, but globally competitive. We are also small enough to get things done; but large enough to make a difference. Because we have established science and tech industries, and our innovation is fueled by a collaborative culture, San Diego is uniquely positioned to become the globally recognized leader in clean technologies and sustainable business practices. When asked, Jason shared with meeting attendees that they can help advance cleantech development by simply talking about and advocating for greater investments. You can help raise the level of awareness that cleantech benefits the economy and also the environment.

Click here to view a PDF of Jason’s presentation: CleanTechSlides_JasonAnderson_June92015
Our second speaker, Judith Seid, a certified financial planner and President of Blue Summit Wealth Management shared how you can you make personal actions to divest from fossil fuels and become more socially responsible with your investments. Often called the “double bottom line,” when you invest from the heart, you can still expect to get returns and support a cause.

A growing number of colleges and universities, cities, counties, religious institutions, and other institutions are committing to divest from fossil fuels in one form or another. This list includes Stanford University (divesting from coal) and the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and San Monica. Many religious organizations have made progress to divest from fossil fuels and there is a growing movement to divest the Vatican. (Look for Pope Francis’ Encyclical on climate change to be released on June 18.)

Judy shared with attendees the common myths associated with “green” investing. One such myth is that returns on sustainable, responsible investments will be lower. But, investing in line with your social and environmental values does not mean sacrificing portfolio returns.

Click here to view Judy’s handout and slide presentation: SustainableInvestingSlides_JudithSeid_June92015
STAY COOL in the News

STAY COOL, along with other elder climate action groups, were featured in a blog post by Ellen Moyer, Ph.D. on Huffington Post titled Elders Take Action on Climate Change. It’s a must-read!
Action Items

On Monday, June 22, the day before Citizens’ Climate Lobby is on the hill to lobby for climate action, you can participate in Congressional Climate Message Day. Plan to call your member of congress or senator to register support for action on climate change. CCL has put together an easy to say script and provides links to online resources for finding your elected officials.

Save the date to participate in Grandparents’ Climate Action Day in Washington D.C. September 9-10, 2015. The Elders Climate Action group, based in the Bay Area, is organizing this event to ask our government leaders to take bold action on climate change. Learn more: www.EldersClimateAction.org.

San Diego residents needs to raise their voice in support of smart transportation planning now.  San Diego Forward, the SANDAG long range plan is in draft stage and the final community workshop is scheduled for June 18 in North County (learn more here). Comments on the draft plan may be submitted via SDForward.com, directly through email at SDForward@sandag.org, via telephone at (619) 699-1934, and through the mail: Attn: Regional Plan. SANDAG offices at 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101. Want message points? Email sarah@staycool4grandkids.org for suggestions.

 

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Help Move San Diego Forward – Now is Your Chance to Weigh in on SANDAG’s Regional Plan

Beginning tonight, SANDAG is holding seven evening workshops to present a draft of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan. The purpose is to share the plan with the public and receive public comments. View the schedule here.

San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan outlines the strategy for transportation planning workshopsand funding, so it plays an important role in how our regional will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

It is important at this stage in the Regional Plan draft that SANDAG receives and records comments from the public as to the shortfalls of the plan. Please plan to attend the workshop in your neighborhood. It would help if you arrive early, talk to others about your concerns and be a bit vocal. Please pass this email on to others who may be able to attend.

Below are suggested key messages:

  • As a grandparent, I am concerned about future plans for transportation in our region. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emission and with smart planning, we can significantly reduce emissions caused by transportation in the coming years.
  • SANDAG has the ability to save our region money, protect our environment and improve quality of life for future generations if we reallocate our TransNet Transportation Tax funds from freeway expansion to early-stage transit development. Please consider incorporating a “transit first” alternative that doesn’t include any future freeway expansion and instead focuses investments on transit, bike and walk infrastructure.
  • The plan points out that we need to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from current levels by significant percentages if we are to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020, 2035 and 2050. Instead of increasing the number of freeway lanes (that will cost billions of dollars), please first consider using our existing lanes for the Bus Rapid Transit lines and managed lanes.
  • Emissions from transportation affects the health of our most vulnerable populations, especially children and the elderly. Recently an appellate court ruled that the last Regional Transportation Plan needed to include health impact assessments for expanding our freeway system and the State Supreme Court said it would not review this issue, essentially letting the ruling stand. Please ensure the next regional plan includes assessments and data on how many more asthma and cancer cases will result from the expansion of freeways.

If you can’t attend a workshop, submit a comment here.

And thank you, to our STAY COOL members, for all you do to help create a cooler future for our grandkids!

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Help Save the Earth at the STAY COOL 2015 Earth Day Booth

We need STAY COOL members to volunteer at the Balboa Park Earth Day Festival on Sunday April 19. We have a STAY COOL booth (number 262) located in a great spot right next to the League of Women Voters. This event attracts thousands of earth-friendly attendees, but we need your help to actively engage attendees at our booth.

Your time in the booth will be fun! We are offering a milkweed (butterfly weed) earth-day-Balboa-parkplanting activity for the kids, so come prepared to get your hands dirty. We will take the opportunity to talk to their parents and grandparents about Climate Action Plan progress in our region. We also hope to recruit some new STAY COOL members.

Morning volunteers (8-11AM) will help set up and manage early booth activities. Mid-day volunteers (11AM-3PM) will help at the booth when the larger crowds arrive. Late afternoon volunteers (3-6PM) will help with final activities and clean-up). No experience is needed, just a willingness to help. Plus, you will get a free STAY COOL T-shirt for volunteering.

Sign up to volunteer here.

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Sea Level Rise at our March 4 Meeting

Thank you to the 36 members who attended our March 4 STAY COOL meeting on Sea Level Rise and thank you to speakers Dr. Reinhard (Ron) Flick and Dr. Sarah Giddings (both from Scripps Institution of Oceanography) along with Nicola Hedge from The San Diego Foundation Environment Initiatives.

We learned from Dr. Flick that mean sea level rise (MSLR) is currently increasing about 3 mm/year (this amounts to about a 1/8 inch annual rise). While this doesn’t seem significant, the rate at which we are experiencing MSLR is increasing and future factors, such as polar ice melting and oceans warming will increase MSLR. Other factors such as extreme tides, wave run-up, storm surges and El Niño/La Niña will increase MSLR fluctuations, resulting in coastal flooding. According to researchers, sea level is expected to rise nearly three times faster between now and 2050 than it did in the prior half century. To put this in perspective, by 2050, what once was the “hundred year flood” occurrence may occur every year.

Infographic courtesy of Climate Education Partners

Infographic courtesy of Climate Education Partners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Giddings shed light on what sea level change will mean for our coastal gems: our lagoons, estuaries, bays, marshes and other natural waterways – we have nearly 20 of these treasures along San Diego County’s coastline. These natural beauties are already threatened by contaminants from “urban drool”, health concerns from mosquito borne diseases, invasive species and impacts on organisms from hypoxia and acidification. Sea level change will amplify these challenges and will result in more impacts from flooding, high sedimentation, and changes in lagoon water temperature, all of which will affect marine ecosystems.

Along San Diego County’s 70 miles of coastline, we know that sea level rise will affect not only our quality of life and our natural ecosystems, but will also have impacts on wastewater/storm water management, transportation systems and coastal businesses & housing. Nicola Hedge, TSDF, presented a summary on sea level rise mitigation and adaptation actions already happening in San Diego and findings from the Focus 2050 report (link). In 2012, TSDF teamed up with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability to develop a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy (link) and have since involved the Port of San Diego, five member cities, the airport and other experts. Many government agencies and cities are developing strategies now that will help us adapt to our rising seas. For example, in the current draft of the San Diego Climate Action Plan outlines adaptation as one of five bold action plans.

Dr. Flick reminded us that now is not the time to panic – we have perhaps 30 or more years  to institute adaptation plans for the worst of coming changes. But we do need to begin planning now for future sea level rise impacts.

Upcoming Events
STAY COOL members have multiple opportunities to get involved in these upcoming events:

Action Items

Haven’t signed our Member Declaration yet? Join our growing list of active members who have signed the commitment and you’ll receive a free t-shirt.

The City of San Diego is conducting its environmental review of the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The process is governed by CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and this phase is the Notice of Preparation (NOP). The city is seeking input from the public on what kinds of policies they should analyze and which alternatives to include. The current draft CAP is located on the City’s website: http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/cap/

Written comments are due by Friday, March 20 – email DSDEAS@sandiego.gov and reference “San Diego Climate Action Plan IO No. 21002571.” Email us to receive suggested message points.

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