Solana Beach unveils draft of climate action plan

Solana Beach has taken its first steps onto a path toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next two decades.

After more than a year of work, Solana Beach released the first draft of its Climate Action Plan (CAP) on May 19, bringing it in line with most other cities in San Diego County. The CAP is the city’s attempt at a comprehensive roadmap for policies on where its energy comes from, how its residents get around and strategies for protecting vulnerable habitats — all in the hopes of bracing for the ravages wrought by global temperatures making their projected climb.

The 163-page plan is open to public comment until June 12, highlighted by a public workshop at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31 at City Hall.

Del Mar enacted its climate plan last summer. Encinitas is in draft stages, with approval expected next month. The city of San Diego won international acclaim in December 2015 by enacting a Climate Action Plan that empowers citizens or advocacy groups to sue the city if climate goals aren’t met.

Unlike San Diego, Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos, the climate plan for Solana Beach is not legally binding.

“Ours is a guiding document, much like the city of Del Mar’s,” said Dan King, assistant city manager.

Officials hope to send the plan to the city council at either the June 26 or July 12 meeting, depending on the number and complexity of comments received, King said.

Solana Beach’s plan starts from a baseline in 2010, when a city inventory determined that nearly 140,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent) is produced by human activity in Solana Beach. By their estimate, that much emissions equates to one car driving 334 million miles, the equivalent of more than 13,000 times around the Earth.

The goal is to cut emissions 15 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2035.

The CAP lays out 30 actions to get there, the five most impactful of which will reduce Solana Beach’s greenhouse emissions by 40,000 metric tons (nearly 30 percent). Those measures are: electric vehicles and alternative energy transportation; community choice aggregation for the city’s electricity; expansion of residential rooftop solar; diverting 90 percent of solid waste from landfills; and solar water heaters in commercial areas.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse emissions, comprising 63 percent of the output. Key measures in that sector include steps to encourage 30 percent of all miles driven to be in electric and alternative-energy vehicles, 10 percent of workers commuting via mass transit and 20 percent commuting via vanpools.

The other largest greenhouse gas contributors are: electricity (20 percent), natural gas (11 percent), solid waste (3 percent) and water consumption (2 percent).

The city council’s May 24 meeting, which occurred after press time, was set to take a crucial step in Solana Beach’s energy future, via a vote on two contracts to pursue “community choice aggregation,” in which the city would sidestep SDG&E and buy electricity from providers that use a higher percentage off renewable energy.