As reported last week, the San Marcos City Council at its special meeting on April 30th, received a draft of a comprehensive Green Energy policy. The policy has also been called the Comprehensive Environmental Stewardship Policy and the City Sustainability Policy. (For our purposes, it will be called the Stewardship policy). The policy draft is a comprehensive attempt “to create long term environmental benefits and to conserve natural resources” and to save taxpayer dollars and improve the overall quality of life in San Marcos.
Given the importance of this policy initiative, Newstreamz decided to provide our readers with a review of the proposed Stewardship policy. The policy draft has three main components. The first is a list of existing and proposed policies in seven main areas. The second part is a draft environmental/energy conservation survey for city employees and the third section is a draft citizen resource conservation survey.
The Stewardship Policy policy section covers one hundred and one existing and proposed policies in the categories of 1) Land Use management, Urban Forestry and Water Quality; 2) Transportation Planning and Clean Air; 3) Green Power and Energy Efficiency; 4) Green Building; 5) Water and Waste-water Management; 6) Recycling and Waste Reduction; and 7) Education and Outreach. Let us take these categories in turn.
Of the twenty five policies identified in the Land Use chapter, seven can be seen to deal with green space and urban forestry, eight with land use, four with economic development, and six with water quality. The policies discussed under urban forestry include such things as a city government tree planting program and strengthening tree preservation standards, policies discussed under land use include infill development incentives, Downtown County Building redevelopment, and the promotion of mixed use development.
Policies discussed concerning economic development include business attraction and promoting transit oriented development. Finally policies under water quality include storm-water drainage and water quality standards and Edwards Recharge Zone rules.
Of the twenty five policies identified in this Land Use section, thirteen are already existing policies of our city government such as the infill development incentives, River Bank program, and our river corridor water quality standards. In this section, five (5) of the existing policies deals with land use, five (5) with water quality and three (3) with green space and urban forestry.
In the twenty three policies identified in the Transportation and Clean Air chapter, twenty one (21) concern fuel conservation while two (2) explicitly deal with air quality. Policies for fuel conservation include the city fuel reduction program, a proposed
motor pool program, and a sidewalk program. Air quality programs include roadway striping and the open burning prohibition. Admittedly, some of the policies in the category of fuel consumption also have an effect on air quality such as traffic light synchronization and vehicle idling regulations. Of the twenty three (23) policies listed in this section, eleven (11) are already existing policies of our city government such as the open burning ban.
The city staff identified nineteen (19) policies in the Green Power and Energy Efficiency chapter. Policies discussed under renewable energy include city government purchase of renewable energy and the volunteer citizen purchase of renewable energy. Energy efficiency policies include city government office occupancy sensors, air conditioner rebate program, and a comprehensive city office practices evaluation. Sixteen (16) of the policies discusssed deal with energy efficiency while three (3) concern renewable energy. Of the nineteen (19) policies discussed in this section, only three (3)already exist as city policies such as the city government purchase of renewable energy.
The fourth chapter of the report deals with Green Building, a relatively new concept in the green energy movement. The five (5) policies presented do not exist now in our city government and include such policies as establishing Green Building standards and a weatherization program.
The city staff identified ten (10) policies in the fifth chapter on Water and Waste-water Management. All ten (10) policies deal with water conservation including such initiatives as water waste prohibition and the residential plumbing program. Nine (9) of the ten (10) policies are existing policies in our city.
Recycling and Waste Reduction is the sixth chapter of the draft report. Three (3) of the policies deal with reducing paper use by the city government while four (4) deal with recycling and hazardous waste. Five (5) of the initiatives discussed are existing policies in our city including the city council’s paperless agenda.
The seventh and last chapter identified by the city staff deals with Education and Outreach. Such policies include the river clean ups and citizen energy analysis. Nine (9) of the policies including energy efficiency education and environmentaleducation programs.
The city council is going to review the draft policies over the next few months. Tentatively, the council is planning on making decisions on the proposed draft by no later than October.
The city government is very interested in discovering the opinions of both city employees and citizens of San Marcos. The draft employee conservation survey asks city workers about conservation activities in the areas of energy, water, transportation, materials, and land use and asks for suggestions for conservation from the employees.
The draft citizen conservation survey asks citizens about their willingness to purchase energy saving goods and materials and asks our citizens the importance of different conservation efforts. There is a very small section on respondent data at the end of the draft citizen survey.
The city government is very serious about the proposed comprehensive stewardship program. Colette Jamison, Assistant City Manager, said that the city government is working with the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to arrange a facilities energy audit. The audit will include an accounting of energy use in all city government buildings. In addition, the audit will identify improvements that the city government may take and a rough estimate of the cost of such improvements. The audit will be conducted free of charge to our city.
The city government wants citizen input on the proposed stewardship program. we will bring you new information as the program continues to be discussed.
By ED MIHALKANIN, Ph.D