City officials on Tuesday cherry-picked less expensive ways to reduce local greenhouse emissions.
The City Council approved measures that could be pushed through without substantial investments of money or staff time, culled by Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger from the Jan. 10 update on progress made in implementing the city's Climate Protection Action Plan.
"Efficiency is not low-lying fruit, it is the fruit (lying) on the ground," said businesswoman Theresa Cordoba.
The council voted separately on four recommendations, starting with tracking the city's use of water, electricity, gas and fuel by examining month-over-month comparisons of the bills.
Rollinger stipulated that the city should monitor usage, not costs, which could fluctuate.
She would have liked the data on electricity to be site-specific, but City Manager John Pietig said his staff was not big enough to read the city's meters.
"I don't even know how many meters we have," said Pietig, who receives only an accounting of the total bills.
The council also scheduled a forum on reclaimed water and will invite the general managers of the city's two water districts to participate.
"It is crazy to treat water to a potable level and then use it for irrigation," said Max Isles, a founder of the environmentalist group Transition Laguna.
In addition, the council directed staff to look at newer technology in solar power that could be installed on city-owned property.
"There is no silver bullet to balance our budget, but there is a lot of silver buckshot, and solar and efficiency are two buckshots," said Chris Prelitz, former chairman of the Environmental Committee, now being repurposed.
Prelitz cited his savings on electricity in his own home. His January bill was $1.06. Some months Edison owes him money.
"What City Council wouldn't want a zero-electricity bill each month?" Prelitz said.
Finally, the city will no longer buy single-use plastic water bottles, except for the use of employees and emergency response personnel during emergencies, assuming supplies are available.
Busy day for council
In other action, the council met at 4 p.m. with the school board.
Discussions included the process for joint use of facilities such as the community swimming pool and the Artists' Theatre, which has been less available to community groups than expected when donations were sought for its remodel.
Also discussed: the tennis courts, the prevention of youth substance and alcohol abuse, curfews, youth in city government and bus transportation to reduce traffic through neighborhoods adjoining schools.
The council will meet again on Friday in closed session.