Climate Talk Is On Agenda For Council

Following an almost month-long holiday break, the City Council will be back in action on Wednesday night, Jan. 15 —  the body’s first session since Dec. 18.

The meeting gets under way at City Hall at 7:30 p.m., with a light agenda expected. An update of the city’s in-the-works “Climate Action Plan,” plus various commission appointments, are the expected highlights.

The Climate Action Plan, or CAP, is a long-range set of goals that will outline strategies the city will employ to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, in order to meet various state-mandated targets over the coming decades.

The CAP is funded by a grant from Southern California Association of Governments, with specifics plans pertaining to South Pas being developed by Rincon Consultants.

Rincon, which also created the CAP plans for the Pasadena and La Canada, will make the presentation at Wednesday’s meeting, along with city staff.

“The Climate Action Plan looks at energy and how we can reduce the use of energy that’s bad for the environment,’’ said Council Member Marina Khubesrian, the council’s liaison to the Natural Resources & Environmental Commission.

Liaison positions will also be on the menu Wednesday, Khubesrian said, adding that she has asked to keep her post with the NREC and expects that she will.

California law mandates that the state reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

According to City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, South Pasadena achieved the 2020 goal in 2016.

The CAP plan — the specifics of which have yet to be taken up by the Council — would take a big-picture approach toward those 2030 and 2045 targets. DeWolfe said the anticipated completion date of the CAP roadmap is fall 2020.

In the meantime, the city is operating under a “Green Action Plan,’’ basically a bridge to the CAP that was passed by the council in November.

But the Green Plan is a fairly comprehensive document on its own, and while the CAP will supersede it, the Green Plan lays a lot of groundwork for long-range strategies.

The Green Plan details a wide range of goals, initiatives and education pushes that are, in the words of Shahid Abbas, the city’s director of public works, “SMART” – an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Elements of the Green Plans are based on recommendations from the NREC and city staff, primarily in the Department of Public Works. It covers five general areas with some 80 sub-steps.

Among the five major target areas are: taking steps toward making South Pasadena a plastic-free city; enhancing water conservation; reducing the amount of organics that wind up in landfills; addressing the loss of vegetation that contributes to the “Urban Heat Island Effect” (a phenomenon that makes urban areas noticeably warmer); and preparing for even wider-ranging ecological sustainability actions.

That plan kicks in this month and runs through June 2021.

According to DeWolfe, “The first phase of the development of the CAP — establishing a baseline GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions inventory for South Pasadena — has been completed. A GHG emissions inventory identifies the major sources and quantities of GHG emissions produced by city government operations and community-wide activities for a given year.

“This baseline will enable the city to understand its current emissions, track emissions trends, identify the greatest sources of GHG emissions and set targets for future reductions. The sources of emissions used to develop the inventory include energy (electricity and natural gas), transportation, solid waste, and water consumption.’’

The next phase of the CAP would develop specific GHG reduction strategies.

Ahead of that, DeWolfe said, the city will conduct community meetings throughout the process.