Davis’ Climate Action Team has reached another milestone in its quest to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
The CAT hosted its first community forum Thursday, aimed at gathering feedback and ideas from residents on improving the city’s plan for reducing emissions.
According to sustainability program manager Mitch Sears, 97 percent of Davis’ emissions come from the community, while the remaining 3 percent are produced by the city government. CAT has been charged with finding ways to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need your help to identify what the public is willing to support,” Sears said to the crowd of over 200 residents who came to the meeting at the Veterans Memorial Center.
Public works director Bob Weir said that he was thrilled with the turnout for the event, which should engage as many people as possible in deciding how Davis can combat climate change.
“CAT is a pretty good cross-section of experts in Davis, but it’s still only a handful of people,” Weir said. “We need the community’s input to make sure we’re surfacing the right things.”
The high level of community support will help CAT find the appropriate actions that should be taken to achieve the city’s goal of reducing emissions, he said.
In order to organize feedback, the open house was divided into workstations by sector: transportation, consumption and waste reduction, land use/planning and energy. Each workstation included a large poster with proposed changes, and attendees marked their approval or disapproval of each proposal with red and green dots. Alongside the list was room to post longer explanations of opinion, and evaluations forms were distributed and collected throughout the evening.
Residents who attended the open house came with ideas and concerns for the community, and many are already taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Nancy Davis and her husband recently made the decision to sell their car. The couple focuses on having very low energy use in the home they rent, which allows for the use of natural light as it faces north-south, she said.
“We realize that if climate change isn’t going to happen, these things are still good,” said Davis, who works at UC Davis as an advisor in the department of electrical and computer engineering. “I’m not a scientist, but I know these things will have benefits.”
Davis is also a member of the organization Davis Bicycles!, and said asking oneself the question, “Can you do it on your bike?” is a good rule of thumb for residents looking to minimize their carbon footprint.
Bicycles were a popular topic at the forum.
A May 2008 analysis by CAT found that transportation makes up 53 percent of Davis’ emissions, but people had mixed feelings about proposals to change streets to give bicycles a larger priority and to modify the downtown parking situation.
“I think they should [leave downtown] the way it is,” said Richard McAdam, a resident of the Village Homes neighborhood. “The high price of gas is getting me on my bike if I can’t park downtown conveniently.”
McAdam said in addition to riding his bike downtown, he shops in Sacramento, where he commutes to work, so that he can do more in one trip. He suggested eliminating traffic circles in new developments and removing fireplaces from future housing designs.
The residential sector was the second highest contributor, with 33 percent of total emissions, according to the CAT analysis. The commercial/industrial sector came in at 11percent, city operations at 3 percent and waste at 2 percent.
Concentrations of green dots showed that Davis residents are willing to support car sharing with UC Davis, expansion of mass transit to nearby communities, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified neighborhood design, citywide collection of gray water and rain water, a city salvage yard to promote the reuse of goods and a city “thermometer” to show progress of the greenhouse gas reduction, among other ideas.
Now that CAT has collected ideas from the community, the next step is to set targets, which is still underway and partly dependent on public input from Thursday’s forum. By the end of 2008 CAT will complete its action plan with the help of the Natural Resources Commission.
Public feedback from the community forum will be available online once it is catalogued, and another community forum will be held in the fall.
For more information on the Climate Action Team and for resources on how to reduce your emissions, go to cityofdavis.org/cmo/Sustainability/ClimateChng.cfm.
NICOLE L. BROWNER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.