The city of Lodi is currently working on a climate action plan to create ways the community can voluntarily help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy.
The Lodi City Council hired Sacramento-based consultant AECOM to design a plan that will work with the city’s General Plan, a document that will guide development in Lodi for the next 20 years.
“We are looking for public comment on greenhouse gas emissions, global climate change and the things we can do in the city to promote a change,” said Jeff Henderson, AECOM senior associate of design and planning.
The climate action plan caused a stir among residents at a council meeting in September, as some questioned the science behind global warming. The plan is being paid for with a $120,000 grant from Smart Valley Growth Compact, which is a group of cities that applied for money together.
City Manager Rad Bartlam said that while the plan is not currently state-mandated, it likely will be in the future. The state is also requiring Lodi to reduce greenhouse gases and the plan will give a framework for the best way to do that, Bartlam said. Having a plan in place will also help the city secure state grant funding, he said.
Throughout the process, the council has stressed that any suggestions for local homeowners or businesses will be voluntary and could include incentives from the city, Henderson said. But there could be mandatory steps for the city, he said. For example, city buildings could have to reach a certain level of energy efficiency, while homeowners could receive rebates to make upgrades.
Councilman Alan Nakanishi, who voted against the city accepting the grant, said he has always objected to spending state or federal money related to Assembly Bill 32 — the California Global Warming Solutions Act — because he opposed the law when it was signed in 2006.
Nakanishi was concerned when the consultants said there could be mandatory requirements for the city in the plan.
“I don’t need a group telling me how to be energy-efficient and how to keep the air clean. It’s common sense. We are the governing body,” Nakanishi said.
The consultants are first taking stock of what the city is already doing to reduce greenhouse gases and estimating what emissions will look like in the future, Henderson said. Then they will propose targets for the city to reach and recommend ways to decrease the gases based on research and suggestions from the community, Henderson said.
The consultants have been talking with community groups, including Citizens in Action, the local Tea Party affiliate, and developers to get suggestions, Henderson said.
Ed Miller of Citizens in Action said the group would support improved bike infrastructure or expanding the Park and Ride or rideshare programs. Businesses suggested installing a regional bio-fuel digester for food processing companies and wineries, demonstration sites for green roofs and more opportunities for solar installations.
AECOM has also had a booth at the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market where residents can offer their ideas.
Community members suggested increasing the Grapeline bus routes around town and expanding recycling services to accept more items. They also suggested the city study its bicycle lanes, because the routes can be disjointed.
AECOM will continue working on the plan, and the council is tentatively scheduled to consider adopting it around the first of the year.