As part of its participation in the 100 Resilient Cities program, the City of Oakland released Resilient Oakland: It Takes a Town to Thrive, a resilience playbook and call to action designed to tackle Oakland’s most pressing systemic and interdependent economic, social and physical challenges. The Resilient Oakland playbook includes strategies and actions to tackle systematic, interdependent challenges. This means changing the local and regional institutions to become more resilient and responsive to challenges. The main themes of Resilient Oakland are to build a more trustworthy and responsive government, stay rooted and thrive in the city, and build a more vibrant and connected Oakland. "The Resilient Oakland Playbook sets forth nearly 40 actions designed to be collaborative, data-driven and equitable in our outcomes," said Kiran Jain, Oakland's chief resilience officer, in a statement. "By taking a continuous 'build, measure, learn' approach to resiliency, we honor the work that has been done and build on it today, while setting forth bold actions that shape the future of a more resilient Oakland." (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Low Inflows Imperil S.F. Bay Ecosystem
Researchers at the Bay Institute have found that because little water is flowing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River into the San Francisco Bay estuary, the ecosystem may be collapsing. One major reason for the sharp decrease in water is human extraction. The State Water Resources Control Board last month required Californians to leave 40 percent of what would naturally flow during the spring to save fish species. One UC Davis scientist told the SF Chronicle “of the roughly 120 native freshwater fish species in California, over 80 percent of those are faced with extinction by the end of the century if current trends continue.” The study’s conclusions were that fish extinctions were looming, starvation of fish-dependent species, diminished freshwater to the Gulf of the Farallones, increased salinity, and lack of sediment.
Downzoned San Diego Community Plans Sent Back to Drawing Board
The San Diego City Planning Commission rejected the Uptown community plan update, which would have decreased housing density in parts of Hillcrest, Bankers Hill and Mission Hills. The vote may signal an appetite for greater density in those parts of San Diego. The rejected Uptown community plan update included several instances of “downzoning,” resulting in a loss of around 1,900 housing units but also protects historic buildings. The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval of the community plan update, but without the density decreases. A city-commissioned analysis found the Uptown Community Plan update would fall short of the citywide transportation goals included in the Climate Action Plan. The City Council has final say on the update.
Beacon Awards Recognize Leaders in Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Honoring voluntary efforts by local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and adopt policies that promote sustainability, the Beacon Program is sponsored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC). The City of Colma won the 2016 Gold Beacon Award for 29 percent Agency Energy Savings, 43 percent Agency Greenhouse Gas Reductions, and Platinum in Sustainability Best Practices. American Canyon, Emeryville, Benicia, Hermosa Beach, Davis, Manhattan Beach, and Santa Monica received silver Beacon awards. One-hundred California cities participate in the program and 45 cities received awards for their sustainability efforts.
Parcel Adjacent to Great Park Rouses Controversy in Irvine
Orange County is developing a proposal to develop 100 acres it owns south of the Great Park in Irvine. The development would include 2,103 housing units, 242 room hotel, 220,000 feet of commercial space, and 1.9 million square feet of office space and could reap the county nearly $4 billion in tax revenues over 75 years. Irvine officials are threatening to sue over the project because they claim it is a money grab and could prevent future nearby developments. County officials deny these allegations and will begin a public discussion about the project by releasing draft plans next month. The opposition centers on the limited capacity of local roads.
Study Assesses Wild Fire Damage Across Western U.S.
A study by the University of Idaho and Columbia University found that 10.4 million acres in the West burned between 1984 and 2015 as a direct result of human-caused global warming. While research has tied wildfires to hotter, dryer conditions resulting from GHG emissions, this report is one of the first to quantify the impact of climate change. California is one of the states hit the hardest with the 132,000-acre Soberanes Fire in Big Sur this summer, last years Valley Fire in Lake County and Yosemite’s Rim Fire in 2013. According to the U.S. Forest Service, nationwide a record 10.1 million acres burned last year. The research looked at eight measures of “aridity” such as weather and moisture metrics. Their models showed temperature increases of 2.5 degrees in the past 50 years. Additionally they computed that 55 percent of forest aridity was due to climate change and the remaining 45 percent was natural climate variation.
Oceanside Embarks on General Plan Update
The City of Oceanside is updating its General Plan to focus on expanding local jobs and reducing its carbon footprint. The first step is a new Economic Development Plan Element and Energy/Climate Action Plan Element. As is required by CEQA, all cities must reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2035. Oceanside is updating its general plan and including GHG emission reduction thresholds and how they intend to meet these goals. Some policies the city will focus on are containing sprawl, providing alternative transportation options and expanding tree canopy.
Quick Hits & Updates
The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission announced it will produce a plan to help the city prepare for sea level rise. Drafting of the plan will take three years and focus on coming up with “vulnerability assessments” for each section of the shoreline and explain how it could be adapt to changes that lie ahead as well as recommending that local governments explore new institutional arrangements to address the impacts of climate change”.
Tesla Motors Inc. intends to build 4.6 million square feet of new space for its factory in Fremont, which would increase production to 500,000 cars per year and add more than 3,000 workers. This proposed expansion is adjacent to the company’s current 4.5 million square feet plant. The company is seeking approval from the City of Fremont for a master plan to accommodate 11 new structures, primarily industrial space. The proposal must now go to the city’s Planning Commission. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
The Fair Political Practices Commission dismissed a complaint that accused Chinese developer Wanda Group of illegally funding an effort to halt a rival Beverly Hills condo proposal, which is the subject of a November ballot measure. Wanda Group and Alagem have plans to build condominium towers on adjacent properties.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has announced the beginning of its search for engineering and architectural consultants to draw up plans for the Fresno station. The winning team will receive a six-year contract for up to $11 million. The City of Fresno is developing a master plan for the proposed area of the station in the heart of downtown.
The Greater Sacramento Economic Council has presented a proposal to rename the Bay Area, Sacramento, Central Valley corridor the “Bay Area-Sacramento Mega Region.” The council claims that the megaregion can collaborate to keep jobs in California and improve regional transportation.
The California Public Utilities Commission has approved water taxi service connecting San Francisco and Berkeley. Two companies, Tideline and Prop, will run smaller 40-person ferries. Prop plans to serve Berkeley, Emeryville, San Francisco, and Redwood City starting in January. Tideline expects cross-bay trips to take about 20 minutes and cost $10 each way.
The League of California Cities installed several new officers at its recent conference. Lodi Council Member JoAnne Mounce, former vice president, was installed as the League president. Palos Verdes Estates Council Member James Goodhart was elected the first vice president and South San Francisco Council Member Rich Garbarino as second vice president.
The City of Carlsbad released its draft Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment in June. City officials are meeting with residents and experts to discuss ways the city can adapt.