Yes, yes it does. So what is it and how did it come into being? Let’s take the second question first.
Every 20 years or so the city updates its General Plan. The last revision was approved on November 14, 2006 after about two years of work by over 100 citizens, the City commissions, and City staff. In the second paragraph of the Introduction the General Plan states: “Inherent in our long-range view, expressed in the Community Vision, is the concept of sustainability.” This runs as a theme throughout the document, and sustainability is called out in the goals, policies, and implementation measures that are included. The document is quite expansive and inclusive, and because of this breadth, it is a bit overwhelming. During the time that the General Plan update was taking place, an Ad Hoc Committee on Sustainable Development was also convened and it proposed, in May of 2007, that a City Sustainability Task Force be formed that would use the committee’s suggestions as a starting point for developing a manageable Sustainable City Plan. This Sustainability Task Force met during 2007 and 2008 and the first Sustainable City Plan was adopted on October 8, 2008.
This first plan tried to identify a set of actions we should take, and to sort them into those that could be taken soon, and those that were harder to implement. It also tried to create a set of indicators that would help us track our progress. Because it was the first iteration of the Plan, these indicators tended to be subjective rather than objective, which made assessing hard to do, and the desired annual reports were rare. This lack of numerical metrics has been addressed in the most recent update, which was approved by the city council on April 13, 2021. The Sustainability Committee and city staff are currently collecting data for an annual report using these new metrics.
So what does the Sustainable City Plan cover?
The goal areas are:
- Resource Conservation: Energy, water and wastewater, solid waste.
- Environmental Public Health and Local Agriculture: Air quality, toxic materials, light pollution, plastics reduction, local agriculture.
- Transportation: Non-motorized transportation, trip reduction, vehicle miles traveled, cleaner fuels.
- Sustainable Built Environment: New construction, neighborhood development, infrastructure development, existing development.
- Open Space and Biodiversity: Natural open space, constructed open space, urban forest, biodiversity.
- Housing and Economic Development: Diversity of jobs, businesses, and housing stock; meeting State mandates for affordable housing; neighborhood preservation; fair trade; economic viability; mixed use.
- Public Outreach and Education: Understanding of sustainability by the general public and all stakeholder groups, tracking progress towards the goals, implementing actions.
There are a number of goals in each goal area and a number of indicators and actions that we hope will help us reach our goals. So how do the different parts of the plan work? Here is an example related to Goal Area 1: Resource Conservation. Goal (reduce amount of water used)—Indicator (amount used by city)—Baseline (CCF for city for 2018 year)—Target (2 percent reduction in 2019 year)—Action (“convert some turf areas in parks to waterwise landscaping” is one of many possible).
Having numbers for indicator baselines and targets will now allow us to produce annual reports much more easily. This in turn will make it simpler for Claremonters to keep up-to-date on how we are doing as a community. For many of the indicators, the city is the agent responsible for collecting the necessary data, but for others both the city and community organizations do this. For example, the Garden Club contributes to the indicator baseline for the number of sustainability-related articles written (like this one!).
The Sustainable City Plan also includes an updated Implementation Plan that emphasizes how important it is that all levels of city government—city council, commissions, committees, and staff—take sustainability into account when making recommendations and decisions.
So, that is where we are and how we got here. Claremont’s Sustainable City Plan is meant to be a living document, so although major updates will be considered every four years, changes will be considered whenever something important arises. The Sustainability Committee will be holding quarterly meetings and we would love to have you attend one or send us comments and suggestions. In fact, there are several indicators that we are still trying to figure out, so if you have any ideas for how we could measure light pollution or how to track some aspect of the amount of plastic used in the city, do let us know! The Sustainable City Plan can be seen on the city website. Just choose “Living” from the top menu, click on “Sustainability,” and then on the link to the plan.
The Claremont Garden Club (claremontgardenclub.org) is a working group of Sustainable Claremont. Send along questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Demystifying Sustainability is an initiative of Sustainable Claremont (www.sustainableclaremont.org)