A group of environmental activists organized by the Environmental Health Coalition and San Diego 350 gathered Monday, March 2, in Balboa Park to urge the city to "start here, start now" by fast-tracking implementation of a "strong, measurable climate action plan."
Environmentalists have been pushing for implementation of a plan since the idea was first put forth in February 2014, largely developed by city councilman and former interim mayor Todd Gloria, who showed up to once again lend his support.
"We should be looking at 100 percent renewable [energy sources for the city by 2035]. We should make a plan enforceable, we should make it measurable, and city staff has helped write a plan to put San Diego on a path to do that," Gloria told the group assembled in front of the Balboa Park Club building. "We will, if we persist on the path that we're going down."
A scoping meeting was scheduled for the venue later that afternoon, beginning the road to implementation of mayor Kevin Faulconer's revised plan, released in late September.
"This is the first step in the formal review process," explains Masada Disenhouse of San Diego 350. "We want to show that people are really on this, that they really want to see a strong, enforceable, and legally binding plan come out of that review process. And there's a lot we can be doing right now — the review process is supposed to take several months and there are other reviews to come after that. There's just so much we can do to alleviate these problems now."
Gloria likewise doesn't feel a need to wait until a final plan is adopted to begin implementing some of the proposed measures.
"We don't need to wait for the environmental review process to tell us that the future of San Diego's quality of life depends on immediate action," Gloria added.
Meanwhile, another plan governing regional transportation growth has already faced criticism from environmental groups who feel it fails to account for increased air pollution as required by state law. Activists scored a victory last year when an appellate court confirmed a ruling in their favor.
Rally attendees suggested that a final plan should go further to strengthen environmental protections, especially in neighborhoods such as Barrio Logan that are disproportionately affected by pollution.
"The city should act now to reduce the threat of climate change, and it should start in the neighborhoods who are most impacted and breathe the most polluted air. The Climate Action Plan should put these neighborhoods first for transit infrastructure, solar, and energy efficient buildings," said Kayla Race, representing the Environmental Health Coalition.