Green Task Force releases recommendations

DOWNEY - It's no secret that the city's Green Task Force has been at work trying to craft a comprehensive green policy for Downey, which it will then forward at the earliest possible opportunity to City Council for consideration and/or approval.By the nature of the group (voluntary mostly) and by the inherent difficulty of the task before them, it was clear from the start that the Green Task Force could proceed only by small degrees. There were the codes (building, plumbing, electrical, etc.) to consider, the pressures from sundry groups and public opinion, the legal mandates and constraints. Not the least of these is the inner prompting from the group itself to demonstrate that its work is on the right track and that its concerns for the public welfare are well-founded. Its two subcommittees, sustainability and education, have been guided by its mission statement: *Improve the public's knowledge and business community's knowledge of environmental topics and how their participation helps everyone *Encourage practices to protect the environment, our city and the public's health *Address community environmental concerns and potential solutions and advise the city council on possible courses of action *Focus on immediate and long-term solutions for conservation, sustainability, and education Much like the City Council's exercise a while back in prioritizing perceived city goals, the Green Task Force has whittled down 22 recommendations to 12 as of its last meeting on March 30. In releasing this list of recommendations, the Green Task Force chairman, Councilman Mario Guerra, and as elucidated further by deputy city manager Desi Alvarez, advises us that the following list is at best a working list, and by no means a final one. A final list should be forthcoming, he said, in 30 days. The 'working' recommendations, listed verbatim, are as follows: l. The Green Task Force recommends to City Council that Earth Day, as well as other appropriate dates, such as A Day Without a Bag, the Downey Street Faire, and Downey Kids Day, be designated as annual city-wide occasions to celebrate sustainable living and to educate community about sustainability issues. It therefore recommends that these events should include activities such as •Dissemination of sustainability information and literature; •Creation and hosting of city-wide competitions for reusable bag design, recycling competitions, competitions for student production of public service announcements on sustainability, and the like 2. That the city provide recycling containers in all public parks and public areas. 3. That a) the city produce and provide sustainability information kits to all Downey business license applicants; b) the city develop a program to incentivize business recycling; c) the city provide conservation inserts and conservation tips with all city mailers, such as city bills; d) the city develop a program to recognize businesses, organizations, nonprofits and schools for exemplary sustainable practices, perhaps in the form of window decals. 4. That water conservation programs available through the city be publicized, reinforced, and enhanced, including •Municipal programs such as city irrigation with reclaimed water, city standards for gathering rainwater, and city use and policies concerning grey water •Residential distribution programs, such as high efficiency toilets and low-flow shower heads, including partnership with other agencies that provide these services; •Maintaining the Downey website Green page with current information on promotions, rebates, etc. 5. That City Council establish city policy and long-term plans •To replace city vehicles with electric, hybrid, CNG, or other low emission vehicles •To develop and install appropriate charging stations throughout the community 6. That City Council establish a long-term plan to increase low emission mass transit in conjunction with the city's Specific Plan for downtown development, as well as for other areas throughout the city. 7. That the City Council establish a long-term plan to move towards drought-tolerant landscaping on private and city property 8. That City Council lead the community by example by establishing a policy of not using expanded polystyrene ("Styrofoam") at city functions or in the conduct of city business. 9. That City Council publicize and consider ways to enhance its current Green Streets program. 10. That City Council explore and evaluate the possibility of joining one or more Green city organizations, such as ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), Smart Cities, Green Cities California, Natural Resources Defense Council. 11. That City Council continue to enhance sustainable building codes in anticipation of the next code updates. 12. That City Council recommission a permanent Green Task Force, to be filled by annual appointments of two volunteer members each by each member of the City Council, in cooperation with the office of the Deputy City Manager.

********** Published: April 9, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 51