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City's Green Task Force narrows its focus
WRITTEN BY :   Lars Clutterham

DOWNEY – The City of Downey Green Task Force was originally commissioned for a one-year term in April, 2009. At its first meeting, chairman and then Mayor Mario Guerra proposed a mission statement which was adopted with minor modifications and has become the cornerstone of the permanent Green Task Force, whose bylaws were approved by City Council in June.
The crux of this mission is public education and the encouragement of sustainable practices in the Downey community. The Task Force is charged with advising City Council on the broad spectrum of environmental issues which face an urban populace and has as a template for its permanent commission a Final Report issued by the original Green Task Force in July, 2010. (This report can be accessed, along with bylaws and recent meeting agendas, on the city website – downeyca.org – in the “City Government>Green Task Force” drop-down menu.)
The organizing principle for the extensive scope of these issues is a group of seven urban themes established by the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords of 2005. These accords were formulated by a group of mayors from some 50 international cities, noting that “the majority of the planet’s population now lives in cities.” Parenthetically it’s worth mentioning that, while the city of Downey is largely a residential community, it is almost entirely “built-up,” with few open spaces, and therefore confronts the same challenges addressed by the Urban Environmental Accords.
These seven urban themes are reflected both in the Green Task Force Final Report and on the Green Task Force web page. They are Energy Conservation, Recycling & Waste Reduction, Water Conservation, Green Building, Green Space: Landscaping, Transportation and Environmental Health.
Recognizing the daunting sweep of these issues, the permanent Green Task Force has chosen to focus for a six-month period on two themes: Transportation and Water Conservation. More specifically, the Transportation focus will involve study of the potential for developing bicycling and electric vehicle use within the city, as well as alternative energy options for powering the city vehicle fleet. Motivating that focus are the obligations of the city of Downey under SB375, California legislation mandating greenhouse gas reduction in conjunction with long-term land use planning.
Emphasis on Water Conservation is of course an ongoing issue in all southern California urban environments and is underscored in Downey by the recent water rate increases which came into effect in July.
These self-generated focusses emphasize one distinctive aspect of the new permanent Green Task Force, which, unlike the original, consists entirely of citizen volunteers appointed by City Council, along with Staff Liaison from the Office of the City Manager, Shannon DeLong. As such, the Task Force has the opportunity not only to pick and choose its priorities within the framework laid down by City ordinance, but also to respond to community environmental concerns as they might be raised from time to time by other residents.
Members of the permanent Green Task Force are Sean Ashton, Bob Ciatti, Lars Clutterham, Jonathan Cousimano, Jose Maga?±a, George Manzanilla, Janet Molinaro, Patrick Owens, Alex Saab and Anna Valcarcel.

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Published: September 08, 2011 – Volume 10 – Issue 21



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