CITY GETS HIGH MARKS…FROM CITY
Santa Monica has worked on meeting sustainable goals since the mid-1990s, and its 2012 Sustainable City Report Card, prepared by the City, shows progress.
The City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) formally released its sixth report card on September 27 with a presentation by the OSE staff at the Main Library. The report card showed that the city has an average performance grade of B and an average effort grade of A.
Eight categories were measured.
OSE Director, Dan Kubani stressed, “ One of the main reasons I think we are doing so well in sustainability in Santa Monica is we regularly take a honest hard look at how we’re doing. The report card helps us celebrate individual and collaborative successes and more importantly helps us identify areas where we still have problems with meeting our goals. “Santa Monica is now widely recognized as one of the most sustainable communities and is often looked at as a model for other cities throughout the world.”
“The grades are developed by an outside independent consultant, Sally Livingston,” explained Shannon Parry, the assistant director of OSE. “Each grade is also reviewed by city staff and the Task Force on the Environment.” The primary grade reflects the city’s progress as measured by indicator data that is measured against the goals. The effort grade represents the level of effort currently focused on achieving the goals by city staff, active programs and policies, resources allocated, and community initiative.
The city received grades of B and (Effort) A- for resource conservation. Goals in this area include decreasing the consumption of non-local, non-renewable, non-recyclable energy, water, materials and fuels, and promoting renewable resource use. Key achievements in this area were waste diversion that exceeds the Sustainable City Plan target by 1.6 lbs per person per day and 25 percent of our energy is from renewable sources. The grade improvement in this area reflects reduced water use, improved waste diversion, increases in community renewable energy, and increased local water supply.
Goals in the area of environmental and public health include minimizing and eliminating the use of hazardous and toxic materials, and the levels of pollutants entering the air, soil and water. A sales increase of 5 percent at the farmers’ markets helped the city receive a grade of C+ and (Effort)A-. A consistent grade in this area reflects steady progress in improving Santa Monica Bay’s health and a commitment to reduce pollution and toxics use.
Grades of B- and (Effort) A were given for the transportation goals of maximizing mobility and access and reducing traffic and pollution associated with transportation. Key improvements were an increase in average vehicle carpooling, and a record 58 percent of residents using the Big Blue Bus. The improved grade reflects the increase in carpooling and a strong commitment to local and regional transportation.
In the area of economic development the city received a B and (Effort) A-. The goals include nurturing a diverse, stable local economy that supports the basic needs of community members and increases sustainable business practices. A key achievement is that no single sector represents more than 25 percent and the top sectors are information, professional, science and technology, and finance. This consistent grade reflects the strength of the local economy and local green business growth, while recognizing the challenges presented by the cost of living and the jobs/housing imbalance.
A grade of A- and (Effort) A was given for open space and land use. The goals in this area are to develop and maintain a diverse open space system that supports the community and the natural environment and to create mixed-use urban villages. A significant achievement in this area is that the city now contains 245 acres of state beach and 27 parks. A consistent grade in this category reflects a commitment to maintaining a sufficient and diverse open space system and efforts to create policies that promote mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
The housing category received a grade of C and (Effort) A. Goals in this area include providing a mix of affordable, livable and green housing types for people of all socio-economic, cultural, and household groups. A notable accomplishment in this category is that over 90 percent of all new housing units are within 1/4 mile of a transit stop, open space and a grocery store. A consistent grade here reflects both a continuing loss of housing affordability and the city’s commitment to retain existing affordable units and to provide more of them.
Grades for community education and civic participation were A- and (Effort) A. The goals for this category are community members participating actively and effectively in civic affairs and community improvement efforts. A key data point for this area was that off-year election voter turnout was 65 percent.
The last category was human dignity which received grades of B+ and (Effort) A. Goals for this area are that all community members are able to meet their needs, have adequate access to housing, health care, education, employment, and are empowered to enhance the quality of their lives. Key achievements here included a 16 percent reduction of homelessness in downtown and the launching of the Office of Emergency Management in 2011. The grade improvement for this category reflected the progress being made to ensure that all residents are able to meet their basic needs and feel safe in their community.
Parry also noted that the report card is now being released “every other year so the city can work on effecting change on the ground” and not simply focus on tracking data.
The 2014 report will include a new category for arts and culture that the City Council approved in May 2012. The goals in this area are to retain and nurture Santa Monica’s arts community and resources, increase cultural participation and provide greater access to a diversity of cultural programs for all ages, and enhance the long term sustainability of Santa Monica’s creative sector.
The presentation was attended primarily by city staff and included a catered breakfast and the distribution of a 23-page booklet describing the report card.
Further information about the report card can be found at www.sustainablesm.org/scpr.
The Dispatch will be happy to run residents’ views of the City’s
assessment of its own sustainability achievements.