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Commission to vote on gas reduction plan

Posted: June 19, 2012 1:50 a.m.
Updated: June 19, 2012 1:50 a.m.

Santa Clarita planning commissioners are scheduled to vote today on a plan to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 - as mandated by the state.

The city's climate action plan is meant to reduce Santa Clarita's greenhouse gas emissions to levels required under California Assembly Bill 32, a 2006 law that imposed sweeping environmental regulations, including reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

For Santa Clarita, this means reducing such gases as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide by at least 120,562 tons, said David Peterson, Santa Clarita assistant planner.

Santa Clarita had 1.71 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 - with about 61 percent originating from vehicle tailpipes, 31 percent from energy use by residents and businesses and 8 percent stemming from solid waste and its disposal, municipal operations and other uses, according to a city staff report.

Peterson said the city talked to utilities, looked at water and traffic and relied heavily on its general plan when gathering the data on greenhouse gas emissions.

Using modeling and assuming growth under the city's previous general plan, a contractor hired by the city estimated that Santa Clarita would have about 1.98 million tons of emissions in 2020, according to a staff report.

Those emissions would be reduced without any action from the city to 1.84 million tons of greenhouse gases because of state-mandated changes, such as required vehicle fuel-efficiency increases, a reduction in the carbon content of gasoline and a requirement for utilities to get 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to the staff report.

The state-mandated changes would reduce about 144,000 tons of greenhouse gases in Santa Clarita.

"We're able to quantify those things and take them out of the emissions," Peterson said.

With the state requirements in greenhouse gases, Santa Clarita would still have to reduce emissions by 120,562 tons, but Peterson said the city's new general plan approved last year would reduce the city's emissions by 193,021 tons without any further programs.

The new general plan calls for more mixed-use development to reduce vehicle miles traveled and provides for other reductions in greenhouse gas, Peterson said.

"We're actually able to meet our AB32 (requirements) just by doing the things in the general plan," Peterson said. "These kinds of things are something the city has been operating for a while."

Some of the changes specified by the general plan include energy measures, which would install higher-efficiency lights throughout the city, and establishing on-site renewable energy - mostly solar - on new development and existing structures, according to the staff report. Those measures would reduce emissions by an estimated 6,085 tons.

The city would also save an estimated 124,631 tons of emissions through transportation measures, including relying on mixed-use and transit-oriented development, improved access to mass transit and developing walking and biking as alternative transportation measures.

Using reclaimed water, installing low-flow water fixtures and installing "smart" irrigation systems in parks and landscape maintenance areas would save an estimated 21,507 tons of emissions, according to the staff report. Acquiring and preserving open space, as well as planting trees throughout the community, would reduce greenhouse gases by an estimated 40,798 tons.

New developments that fit the city's new general plan would also fit the climate action plan, although developers who request a zone change or general plan amendment have to show that their project is reducing greenhouse gases by 12 percent to match up with the city's general plan.

If the Planning Commission passes the climate action plan tonight, it would go to the City Council for final approval in August, Peterson said.

The Planning Commission will meet beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers at City Hall - 23920 Valencia Blvd.




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