Green Task Force is here to stay

DOWNEY - With the work of the spunky volunteer Green Task Force and its subcommittees essentially done, the City Council Tuesday approved the introduction of an ordinance, which is actually the ad hoc task force's recommendation No. 1, setting up a permanent Green Task Force to continue its work and help the city forever think green.This means keeping such measures as energy efficiency, pollution control, carbon emissions reduction, hazmat, water conservation, tree planting, green technology, recycling, and the like, in the forefront of every city planning, building, infrastructure, street, parks improvement, public education, incentives, etc., activity/policy for the central purpose of protecting the city environment. Several green projects are already in place, among them the annual observance of a "Day without A Bag" (every third Thursday of December), a pilot education program in the Downey Unified School District, and a reduction in solar installation permit fees, but, as the task force report indicated, "while much has been accomplished, much is yet to be done." Short-term and long-term projects/programs contemplated include: Short term: •installing recycling bins in public parks and municipal public areas; •establishing a city policy to refrain from using Styrofoam materials in the conduct of city business/functions; and Long term: •replacement of city vehicles with electric, hybrid, CNG or other low-emission vehicles; and •retrofitting municipal and industrial buildings with photovoltaic (PV) panels. A formal green philosophy for Downey first gained traction in March of 2009 when the newly inaugurated mayor Mario Guerra directed the formation of the volunteer Green Task Force that would review city policies, procedures, and practices vis-?†-vis the 'Sustainable Cities' principles formulated in the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords, which enunciated the seven focus areas of energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health, and water. It gained momentum with each passing month as the ad hoc task force, with its education and sustainability subcommittees, met regularly for a solid year and came up with the above-mentioned short-term and long-term goals. The goals conform to guidelines formulated by AB32 and SB375 (which both address climate change issues as well as state/local-mandated greenhouse gas emissions policies), as well as by AB1881, the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 . The Green Task Force will have 10 members, with the five council members each nominating two concerned and qualified advocates. The members will serve for four years concurrently with the council members making the initial appointments. They will receive no compensation and their roles will only be advisory. To meet at least once a month, six of the 10 members will compose a quorum. While Guerra maintained that the general ideas and directions contained in the proposed ordinance are sufficient foundations for the ordinance's validity, Councilman Dave Gafin again demurred, saying that he'd like to see dollar amounts attached to each proposed project/program; and such questions as how the recommended projects/programs are going to be funded (e.g., from grants? from share of local funds?), etc., should be factored in before he can totally embrace the ordinance's provisions. City manager Gerry Caton has instructed staff to further flesh out each of the recommendations. The proposed ordinance will next be taken up in the council's regular meeting on Oct. 26. The initial membership of the permanent Green Task Force should be announced by then.

********** Published: September 16, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 22