Environmental committee reports busy year

The Environmental Sustainability Committee has had a busy year since its creation after the Environmental Committee abruptly imploded in 2011.

Chairman Martin Taylor reported that committee activities included the development of a draft environmental sustainability document that is under consideration by the City Council for inclusion in the city's general plan. The document is subject to hearings and a recommendation by the Planning Commission.

"This is a large undertaking and will take a substantial amount of time," Taylor told the City Council at the March 19 meeting. "Our city has already spent substantial time obtaining much of the information that will form the basis of the ESE [Environmental Sustainability Element], including a Climate Protection Plan, the Land Use Element [in the General Plan] and information gathered by other committees.

"We have now focused on three key aspects of the ESE: waste, water and energy."

Three subcommittees were created to work on those issues.

"We're trying to develop long-range goals in the element on their use, sourcing and recycling," Taylor said by phone on Tuesday.

Water issues include run-off and gray water, he said, and reduction in waste means less recycling.

"We are also exploring renewable sources of energy," Taylor said.

The waste and energy subcommittees have presented their information and outline to the committee for review," he said. The water subcommittee will be doing so in the upcoming committee meeting.

"All committee members continue to work on revising the drafts," Taylor said.

The committee also submitted a recommendation to the council to investigate the use of solar-powered energy and the installation of solar panels on city-owned buildings and property.

First, though, the reconstituted committee needed to understand its role, according to Taylor.

All the members of the committee are new to city processes. They didn't want to reinvent the wheel, so they perused elements of the city's general plan that pertained to their mission, Taylor said.

They also researched the environmental sustainability elements in other communities.

"A lot of time last year was really getting grounded as far as what is our role and how we can best serve the city," Taylor said.

"We got a lot of guidance from [city officials] such as Mike Phillips, who is staff liaison to the committee, and Norm [Grossman] from the Planning Commission."

The Environmental Sustainability Committee is a seven-member advisory body of local residents who are appointed by the City Council to provide recommendations on matters pertaining to the environment.

According to an earlier Coastline Pilot story, the committee was reinvigorated after nearly dying in July 2011 when five members either declined to reapply for appointment or resigned, and no new applications were submitted.

At the time, a council subcommittee determined that more direction was needed and the new committee should be renamed the Environmental Sustainability Committee.

It meets at 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the Susi Q Community Center, 380 Third Street. The meetings are open to the public.

For more information about the committee, call Phillips at (949) 497-0390 or email him at mphillips@lagunabeachcity.net.


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