March 6 2014 Meeting Summary

Our March 6 meeting featured Brendan Reed, the Environmental Resource Manager, City of Chula Vista, who shared with us insights about Chula Vista’s successful sustainability programs and Climate Action Plan.

Attendees mingle at a STAY COOL meeting

Attendees mingle at a STAY COOL meeting

Below are highlights of Brendan’s presentation:

  • The City of Chula Vista (CV) has been pursuing climate action policies for nearly 15 years; one of the key reasons for their success is because climate action is integrated into every aspect of the city.
  • It is a unique community with a population of 250,000. They face many climate change challenges, such as rising sea level (storm drain impact), nature preserve protection, water shortages, threat of wild fires, and extreme weather impacts on vulnerable populations. The city has been driven to action believing these challenges will lead to higher costs down the road.
  • City staff utilize many resources and participate in collaborations, such as the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, Resilient Communities for America and Beacon Award.
  • CV consistently implements a “stakeholder driven planning process” via open houses, workshops and other public participation opportunities. They involved numerous groups – from the Chamber of Commerce, to real estate groups to citizens groups – from the onset, ensuring everyone had an opportunity to participate. CV’s Climate Mitigation Strategies focus on:
    • Transportation: developing a clean fleet; i.e. using biofuels
    • Efficiency and solar retrofits: free energy/water evaluation for businesses
    • Green buildings and smart growth: ensuring green buildings are available to all citizens.
  • CV’s Climate Adaptation program includes:
    • Sea level rise: developed a Bayfront Master Plan (which passed Coastal Commission largely because they had included climate action planning)
    • Cool paving, roofs and trees: a Cool Roof Ordinance was created for all new homes. A study to develop cool pavement recommendations is underway. All new parking lots must have 50% shade tree coverage.
    • Water policies focus on reuse: encouraging “gray water ready” homes; rain harvesting workshops & rebates. They also helped builders implement a way to reuse water on construction sites.
  • Brendan offered insights for becoming “agents of change.” They are:
    • If the solution was easy, chances are a city would have already implemented it. Don’t berate decision-makers.
    • Understand the hierarchy of influence: meetings, commissions, councils. When you make a public comment, start by commending the officials on what they are doing right.
    • Brendan recommends an “unrelenting nudge” approach when sharing your messages with elected officials and staff.
    • Make climate change the co-benefit. Focus on how a solution will save a city money or increase quality of life, “…oh and it will also help fight climate change.”
    • Piggy-back on regional efforts and existing programs.


Click here to view Brendan Reed’s PowerPoint slides: Reed-StayCool-March62014

Stay Cool Member Meetings

Brendan Reed takes questions from the audience.

Contact Brendan to learn more: breed @ or Here is another resource Brendan mentioned which gives examples of CAPs from several other CA cities:

At the meeting, we also heard from Jonathan Zaidman with 1:1 Movement about the “A Place at the Table” event May 31 – June 1. The event matches students, business leaders, non-profits and other conservation individuals to work collaboratively to develop a sustainability-oriented solution to a conservation-minded issue of their choosing. Discover more:

Chula Vista is a sustainability trailblazer, and gives us leverage to encourage other cities in the San Diego region to take similar action. Become an “agent of change” by nudging your city to get more aggressive with their Climate Action Plan. Below is a synopsis of the climate communications key message points (briefly presented at the end of the meeting):

What do I say when I participate in a public hearing, workshop or submit a letter to elected officials? Here are some messaging tips to get you started:

  • Identify yourself as a credible messenger: provide a brief background and share that you are concerned about the likely risks global warming poses for our children and grandkids. Speak to climate change from your personal perspective.
  • Stick to a few key points and repeat them. Get to the point immediately, and make it a strong point! Boil down your message into one or two easy-to-understand sentences, such as:
    • “The rising amount of CO2 in our atmosphere is the leading cause of global warming and climate change. What is our city doing to reduce its emissions?”
    • “Severe storm-related flooding has cost millions in infrastructure repairs, and rising sea levels will bring more of these floods than we’ve seen in the past. What is our city doing to reduce risk of property damage from sea level rise and storm flooding?”
    • “San Diego County is very vulnerable to future water shortages. What is our city doing to conserve water and ensure future generations have a secure supply of fresh water?”
  • Use easy-to-understand language and avoid jargon.
  • Make clear why the issue matters and why it is a local issue.
    • “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.”
  • Emphasize what is known and irrefutable, and frame the information in a way that speaks to your audience.
  • Make clear what you’re asking people to do.
    • I’m here today to ask you to develop targets for greenhouse gas reductions and complete a climate action plan that will build in measureable, enforceable policies.”
  • Tap into shared community values, such as security, safety, responsibility, health, prosperity, etc.
    • “In San Diego, we value our quality of life. Let’s commit to leaving future generations with the same opportunity to enjoy our unique quality of life.”
  • Emphasize commonsense, practical solutions.
  • Focus on the economic benefits: job creation, dollars saved, costs avoided, etc.

Source: Sightline Institute and ICLEI.  

How do I remember what to say when discussing climate change in conversations?
Here is a simple C-H-I-P-S mnemonic that can help you remember key climate talking points:
Change. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that the atmosphere and oceans are changing and that relatively rapid changes will continue.
Humans. Scientists also agree that the changes over the last century have been largely caused by human activity.
Impacts. Serious impacts already are emerging and much more disruptive changes are coming, especially if we do not respond.
Prepare. We must prepare for the impacts.
Slowdown. We urgently need to slow the growth of dangerous risks by rapidly and sharply reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

The CHIPS mnemonic was created by WWF’s Nick Sundt.

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