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Planning Commission OKs greenhouse gas plan

Posted: June 20, 2012 4:49 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2012 4:49 p.m.

Santa Clarita planning commissioners unanimously approved a plan Tuesday 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.

A number of residents spoke about the plan at Tuesday evening commission meeting, with most saying it's a step in the right direction but adding that they hope the city will do even more to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Three members of Valencia Girl Scouts Troop 5922 said the city should include more pedestrian network improvement plans in its climate action plan, while another resident said the city should do more to increase bicycling in Santa Clarita.

Most residents who spoke said they hoped the plan would encourage more walking in the community.

"This is just the beginning," said Carole Lutness, chairwoman of the Santa Clarita Valley Fair Elections Committee. "We have to be thinking all the time about becoming more walkable."

Santa Clarita Assistant Planner David Peterson said the city is looking at ways to extend pedestrian and bicycle networks and has made those extensions a priority.

The climate action plan that the Planning Commission approved Tuesday applies to all greenhouse gas emissions produced within the city, including sources from residents, businesses and other operations. It does not apply to unincorporated Santa Clarita Valley.

Santa Clarita had 1.71 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 - with most stemming from vehicle tailpipe emissions, according to a city staff report.

Some of the six gases tracked include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, Peterson said.

A contractor hired by the city estimated that Santa Clarita would have about 1.98 million tons of emissions in 2020 under the city's previous general plan, 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, including 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, 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.

"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 efficiency measures, which would reduce emissions by an estimated 6,085 tons, according to the staff report.

The city would also save an estimated 124,631 tons of emissions through transportation measures, save an estimated 21,507 tons through water efficiency measures and save an estimated 40,798 tons through preserving open space and planting trees.

With the Planning Commission's approval, the plan will go to the City Council for final approval in August. Once the plan is put in place, the city will create progress reports every four years and update greenhouse gas inventory and mitigation measures every eight years, Peterson said.





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