Council to Revisit Climate Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 30, 2009 - 06:50:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday will once again vote on whether to approve the Climate Action Plan for the purpose of environmental review. 

A draft version of the Climate Action Plan, as well as the city’s initial environmental study and proposed negative declaration, are already available for public review online. 

The California Environmental Quality Act requires public agencies to identify a project’s “potentially significant effects on the environment” and to mitigate those effects whenever possible. 

According to an April 28 e-mail sent out by Timothy Burroughs, the city’s climate action coordinator, the “city proposes to adopt a negative declaration” instead of carrying out an environmental impact report, “because the Climate Action Plan would not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts.”  

The plan seeks to help Berkeley comply with Measure G, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. 

Although the Climate Action Plan was on the City Council agenda for April 21, the council was unable to vote on it because of a packed agenda. 

At least 47 people spoke in favor of or against various aspects of the plan, starting at 11 p.m., and it was midnight by the time the council took it up for discussion. 

After extending the meeting several times, at least three councilmembers, including Kriss Worthington, Linda Maio and Jesse Arreguin, wanted to make amendments to the plan. 

There was also confusion about which motion should be voted on first, and the meeting was finally rescheduled for May 5. 

Worthington, who has proposed 14 amendments, said that he hoped the climate plan would be on the early part of the next meeting. 

“I believe my amendments will make a stronger and more effective Climate Action Plan,” Worthington told the Daily Planet Wednesday. “I have added some practical and effective tools that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Berkeley.” 

Worthington’s proposals include having the city adopt a “local hire” ordinance, which would give preference to local residents; a “buy local” ordinance and a free public transit “eco pass” for the downtown and Telegraph and San Pablo avenues. 

He would also like to create a state of the art Zero Waste Facility and phase out free parking for city councilmembers. 

Arreguin said he liked 95 percent of the climate action plan, but wanted to make some changes to improve it. 

He is calling for the plan to take into account more up-to-date scientific research about global warming, something he said has changed since voters approved Measure G in 2006. 

Other improvements he suggested include partnering with UC Berkeley to assess and address the unmet housing needs of its employees and students, encouraging the adaptive reuse of historic buildings near public transit and preserving trees on public streets. 

Maio did not return calls for comment by press time. 


Berkeley citywide pools master plan 

City Manager Phil Kamlarz will also ask the City Council to vote on whether the city should proceed with an environmental review of plans to expand and improve the city’s pools. 

City officials and the Berkeley Board of Education joined forces last year to create a citywide pools draft master plan, which would help them get an idea about which public swimming pools and aquatic programs need to be upgraded or replaced.  

The Berkeley Board of Education voted to approve the environmental review of the pools master plan at a public meeting April 16. 

For more information on the pool’s master plan and what the city is proposing as a replacement for the warm water pool at the Berkeley High Old Gym, see the Daily Planet’s April 16 story.