September 2015 home page

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City of Del Mar
Recipient of Bronze Tier Award
in the 2015 iCommute Diamond Award

The iCommute Diamond Awards recognize employers in the San Diego region who have made strides to promote alternative commute choices in the workplace. The program is based on a points system tied to employer involvement and shifts in employee commute choices.

Congratulations Del Mar
We Can Step Up!
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

Can the people in such a small city as Del Mar have any effect on something as large as our climate? Is a Del Mar Climate Action Plan a futile gesture with no perceptible impact? Or, can Del Mar, through the individual and collective actions of its residents and businesses have influence on the broader region? While we are a small community, we have a high density of people and businesses whose words and actions reverberate widely – a CEO who uses public transportation to commute to work, or a University Professor who has a solar water heater in her home or bikes to campus, or a restaurant that recycles food waste, can have significant impact on a large number of people. Our actions can and do matter. We can learn how on September 24th at Del Mar’s Sustainable Lifestyle Resource Fair and Climate Action Plan Open House.

There is no question that Del Mar is a community with “influencers.” If our one and only smokestack in town were in full service or if we lived in the shadow of incinerators, sewage plants, steel mills, and landfills, these influencers would have the EPA set up office here. Then why are we such laggards with citizen-propelled climate action change?

Perhaps because we occupy a pristine and seductively breathtaking swath of California’s“ golden coast” - a term that PBS’s beloved Huell Howser sentimentally crooned - again and again. However “golden” now means the color of our misguided landscaping - lawns that are just one of many miscalculations that we continue to make about our local environment.

Despite the beauty of our coastal home, none of our natural resources is limitless - not the land, not the water, not the shoreline, not the coastal views, not the green canopy, not the wildlife and its habitat, and certainly not our air quality. Does Pope Francis need to give us an environmental encyclical to remind us of the scarcity and the damages from our activities of daily living? Maybe, but we do need our own Climate Action Plan customized to preserve our valuable, but fragile, resources. But we are racing beyond the point of mitigation and facing rapid adaptation.

Sharrows lanes in Solana Beach. Photo Art Olson.  Click on image to enlarge.

Del Mar’s draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) will be introduced to the community on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at the Powerhouse Community Center starting at 6 pm. The unveiling of Del Mar’s CAP comes after ten years when in 2005 the City first inventoried and later updated in 2012 and 2013 the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for our government’s operations and commercial and residential activities.
Joining the other 19 local governments (including the County), Del Mar committed to climate action planning by signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2005 and became a member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) in 2010. Additionally in 2013 a collaboration between SANDAG and SDG&E guided the development of Del Mar’s Energy Roadmap that establishes the framework for climate action planning with the specific energy-saving policies for our City. The culminating step is the comprehensive Climate Action Plan, which when approved by City Council, will give us a systematic way to protect our natural resources - all of US together.

Photo Shirley King.  Click on image to enlarge.

Our local CAP has been under construction for the past year. The seven-member Sustainability Advisory Board and Council Liaisons with the energetic drive of Kristen Crane, Assistant to the City Manager and her capable interns, as well as Nilmini Silva-Send, PhD and Elizabeth Johnson, Energy Policy Initiatives Center at the University of San Diego, the support of data and grant monies from SDG&E and data resources from SANDAG have hammered out the essential elements - our greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for the Years 2020 and 2035 and the prioritized areas for directing community changes. The final draft CAP will be packaged for the Council by Atkins North America Inc., a technical consulting firm, by December 2015.

But taking the active steps to sustain the health of our environment requires a community-based discipline - not the kind that happens in our Code Enforcement Officer’s office; rather committed and repeated personal practices such as taking mass transit to work, not just changing out the LED light bulbs every 13 years. Is it possible for Del Mar to achieve a high level of public participation? Can the Climate Action Plan induce committed actions? What might undermine our attempts?

Photo Shirley King. 
Click on image to enlarge.

The CAP is organized in six sectors of GHG emission-producing activity in Del Mar: electricity (38%), natural gas (30%), transportation (19%), water (3%), solid waste (9%) and wastewater (1%) measured in Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalents. Electricity contributes the most to overall GHG emissions, while wastewater contributes the least. These emissions can be broken down further into residential and commercial categories. In 2013, 43% of emissions can be attributed to commercial electricity use, while 57% were a result of residential electricity consumption.

No one can escape contributing to one, if not all, of these sectors. If you consume products and produce garbage, you make carbon contributions - your carbon legacy.

To quickly estimate your family’s carbon footprint, go to the State’s calculator www.CoolCalifornia.org and evaluate your energy consumption by your patterns of travel, shopping and housing needs. You will see where you fall within the average Del Mar household in metric tons CO2/year. Then you are given an action plan to narrow the options for lowering your emissions with the associated costs and savings. Activities such as changing your car-driving behavior to more eco-driving (driving the speed limit and coasting to red lights) or line-dry your clothes, cost nothing but have a good economic yield and reduced GHG.


City of Del Mar
Means of Transportation to Work
   Number of Workers 16 years and over 2,340
   Car, truck, or van 71.4%
   Drove alone 66.0%
   Carpooled 5.4%
   In 2-person carpool 5.4%
   In 3-person carpool 0.0%
   Workers per car, truck or van 1.04%
   Public transportation (excluding taxi) 1.3%
   Walked 2.7%
   Bicycle 0.9%
   Taxicab, motorcycle, or other 0.0%
   Worked at home 23.6%

              American Community Survey 2013 U.S.Census

Foremost to Del Mar’s CAP is the declaration of its emission reduction goals from 2012 levels for the years 2020 and 2035. As a state, California is well on track to cut GHG to 1990 levels by 2020, and Governor Brown has set a target of 40% by 2030. Nearly 19% of California’s electricity comes from renewable sources and less than 8% from coal. SDG&E is pushing 35% from renewable sources. The state has put a strong wind in our sails to reach 2020 with the benefits of new industry standards and State Laws. But, the year 2035 will need very aggressive actions to reach ambitious, but necessary targets of possibly 30%, 35%, 40%. What kinds of recommended actions can we expect?

Examples of proposed mitigation strategies such as in the Transportation sector are 1) adopting a complete “Streets” policy where all of levels of bicycle riders (lycra-wearing and casual) can utilize our roads safely, 2) increasing mass transit ridership with additional connecting corridors - and ones that could serve Fairgrounds visitors; 3) boosting the number of Electric Vehicle charging stations and dedicated parking spaces for EVs; and 4) installing roundabouts at key nodes along Camino del Mar. Since Del Mar is responsible to mitigate only the emissions that come from trips that start or end in Del Mar - not the I-5 corridor or the pass through traffic, then our residents could add effective policies to the existing Community Plan.

The September 24th Sustainable Lifestyle Resource Fair and CAP Open House will address the strategies for all of the other sectors (electricity, natural gas, water, waste and wastewater). The emission targets will be explained and our place in the Region’s investments to prepare and adapt will be delivered by Dr. Emily Young of the San Diego Foundation’s Climate Initiative. Local agencies will be present to explain energy-saving programs and rebates.

The cornerstone for a successful climate action plan is unified behavior change within the community - not just being informed, but adopting a keen sense of community protection. Two big potential barriers to Del Mar’s success are the prevalence of second home-ownership and the proliferation of recreational housing. Transient occupancy leads to a weaker sense of obligation to the immediate environment. The second barrier is our known reluctance to use mass transportation and to adjust our driving practices with new intersection structures such as roundabouts. Roundabouts cut congestion and save bundles of energy when traffic lights can be disconnected and less stopping and braking.

Climate action in Del Mar is long overdue. We have to pedal fast - pedaling is the best way to get there, and “influence”- pedaling is highly encouraged.

Del Mar’s Sustainable Lifestyle
Resource Fair and Climate Action Plan
Open House

Thursday, September 24, 2015 at the Powerhouse - Resource Fair 6 to 8 p.m. - Presentation 6:30 p.m. - Light Refreshments Served

Resource Fair Participants: City of Del Mar - Coast Waste Management - San Diego Water Authority - San Diego Gas and Electric - Center for Sustainable Energy - The San Diego Foundation - Climate Action

Financing Energy & Water Efficiency Investments


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