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April 30th, 2008
Sustainable San Marcos submits goals to City Council

Wednesday night, at 6pm at City Hall, the Mayor and City Council Members will meet in a Special Meeting to consider the Environmental Stewardship Policy draft document.   As part of City Council’s consideration in crafting the policy, Sustainable San Marcos, a local environmental group, has submitted a letter intended to highlight some of their top short-term project goals.

The letter reads:

Dear Mayor Narvaiz and City Council Members,

We are delighted to see the City of San Marcos continue to commit, “to reducing its use of natural resources, to investing in green building, vehicles and materials, to saving taxpayer dollars through wise energy use and resource conservation, and to improving the overall quality of life in the City.”

In the context of the “City of San Marcos Comprehensive Environmental Stewardship Policy” that you are considering, listed below are some of the top short-term projects we would like to see implemented in San Marcos.

1) Weatherization – It’s not as sexy as green building, but it can reduce energy consumption and lower citizen’s utility bills immediately. Grants and assistance should be made “available for low to moderate income households to replace windows, install insulation, provide weather stripping, etc).” We could even provide an opportunity to students and the community to volunteer to help.

2) Recycling – We encourage you to develop and implement a plan for recycling for apartments. Let’s make it easier and cost-effective for a variety of different people/entities to recycle.

3) LCRA contract – Let’s explore how we can construct the new contract so we’re not obligated to a certain number of kWhs (to allow for conservation measures and to allow for site-produced electricity). We should also request an increased percentage of renewable energy from LCRA (and enable citizens to select renewable energy for their premises).

4) Mixed Use Development / Transit Oriented Development – These are very important to the growth and development of San Marcos in terms of housing and transportation. As San Marcos continues to grow, our low-density, high energy consumption profile is not going to be able to support the kind of population growth that is foreseeable. The option is to expand outward, in urban sprawl fashion. By establishing these kind of developments around San Marcos that are close to where we work, school, shop, walk and live, we can improve affordability and quality of life for all.

5) Rate Structure – Water, wastewater and electric rates are analyzed every two years. Let’s get creative to encourage conservation and efficiency while staying revenue neutral. For example, we should consider reducing or eliminating capping of residential wastewater bills (9,000 gallons/month). Residents should pay for what they use and those who use less should not have to subsidize the big water users.

6) Transportation – Keep going forward on bicycle lanes.

7) Coordination – Hire an energy manager. Set and meet goals for energy conservation. We can save money and improve our city at the same time.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to engage dialog on this subject, both now and in the future.

On behalf of the Sustainable San Marcos group, and with best regards,

-Steve (Harvey)

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