City of El Cerrito Climate Action Plan

by Carla Hansen

The City of El Cerrito developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP) due to the concerns that global and local effects of climate change will have an impact on our community and its way of life. In 2011, the City Council passed a resolution that set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2035 for emissions created by various activities within the community and City operations. The CAP serves as a road map to how the community can achieve these targets. The goals of the CAP include:

  • Provide guidance for the City in pursuing reductions in GHG emissions
  • Provide a policy framework for incorporation for a climate or sustainability element into the City’s upcoming General Plan Update
  • Inspire residents, businesses and employees within the City to participate in reducing GHG emissions
  • Demonstrate El Cerrito’s commitment to helping the State and Bay Area reach their mandated GHG reduction goals

The CAP includes an inventory of the level greenhouse gas emissions being produced from transportation, energy consumption (electricity and natural gas), water use and waste generation throughout the community. This inventory becomes the baseline level of emissions that the City hopes to get below.

Our community emitted, 147,094 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e-a unit of measurement to describe how much global warming a given type of greenhouse gas may cause). To put this into perspective, the Chevron refinery in Richmond emitted 275,650 tons of CO2e in 2004 (according to carma. org). Most of the emissions came from automobiles (51%) and residential and business electricity and natural gas consumption (44%). According to the CAP, the community and the City could reach its emission reductions targets, “if all households took such actions as insulating the attic, converting to Energy Star appliances, driving 19 miles less per week per household member and actively participating in the City’s recycling and composting programs.”

Because El Cerrito is predominantly residential, there isn’t any one action the community or the City can take to greatly reduce emissions. It will take many little actions by all residents. The CAP outlines potential actions that residents and the City should take to reduce carbon emissions in the future. The City Council, with input from the public, can adopt the plan and embark on these actions to achieve its emission reduction targets.

Suggested Actions:

Sustainable Community

  • Encourage higher density Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and in fill development on transportation corridors
  • Diversify the City’s economy to increase the City’s job base and encourage more pedestrian-friendly economic activities
  • Invest in pedestrian, bicycle and transit-friendly infrastructure
  • Increase and enhance green and open space
  • Develop alternative transportation outreach and incentive programs

Energy and Water Use

  • Reduce energy and water use in existing buildings by 20%
  • Encourage new construction to build to a higher level of green building and energy efficiency than is required in CA code
  • Reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based energy by increasing renewable energy use in El Cerrito (Community Choice Aggregation)
  • Encourage water conservation and diversity the community’s supply for non-potable uses

Waste Reduction

  • Reduce waste going to landfill to 4,000 tons by 2020 and 2,000 tons by 2035
  • Increase participation in curbside waste reduction services in all sectors
  • Expand one-stop waste diversion at El Cerrito recycling center
  • Develop and implement a Zero-Waste Plan

For more detailed information on the how the CAP suggests the community reach these goals, please visit and search for the Climate Action Plan.

The Environmental Quality Committee is hearing public comment on the plan on March 12, at 7:00 p.m.

The Planning Commission is also available for public comment on March 20, 7:30 p.m. Both meetings are at El Cerrito City Hall. If you have new ideas or thoughts on the plan, submit them to the City of El Cerrito by:


Fax: 510-559-7682

Mail: Climate Action Plan, City of El Cerrito, 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530

Mayor Lyman answered a few questions regarding the Climate Action Plan when he addressed the Club in February. A formal presentation at an upcoming Club meeting could be made at Club members’ requests.

Campaign for New Priorities Update

by Betty Brown

A big thank you to the ECDC members who signed the Jobs-Not-Wars online petition along with more than 35,000 other individuals as of Feb. 13. There were also 175 organizational endorsements, including ECDC’s. On Feb. 18, the petition was presented in Washington D.C., to representatives of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

An “Abraham Lincoln” read from the Emancipation Proclamation from the Ravages of Militarism and War. The above and other activities all relate to the continuing debate on the federal budget. The Progressive Caucus introduced HR 505, The Balancing Act, their alternative to the austerity and sequestration. It makes no cuts in social programs but raises taxes on the wealthy and makes significant cuts to military spending. With the sequestration cuts commencing on March 1, the Progressive Caucus plans to introduce an alternative, “Anti Austerity” budget the week of March 11. Once introduced, please consider lobbying Senators Boxer and Feinstein urging them to support it.

For the third year, the Campaign for New Priorities is responding to the call for a global day of action on military spending set for April 15 or Tax Day. We will be doing a flier distribution at BART stations, like we did before, when close to 10,000 pieces were handed out around the Bay. In 2012, over 140 actions took place around the world. If you can volunteer to help leaflet at an El Cerrito BART station, please let Yvonne Steffen know at (510) 237-0350. If you would like to volunteer to leaflet at any other BART stations, please contact Stephen McNeil, American Friends Service Committee at (415) 565-0201.


February Meeting Recap

The February Club meeting was all about the City of El Cerrito’s Strategic Plan with a presentation from Mayor Lyman on its progress and process thus far. But before we dove in, Club members had the following announcements:

  • Jobs Not War collected 52,000 signatures and 164 organizational endorsements [including ECDC]
  • April 15 is a Global Day of Action against Military Spending, part of the New Priorities Campaign (see Betty Brown’s article in this month’s newsletter!)
  • May 4 is George Miller’s annual birthday party and fundraiser. The guest speaker will be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

After the announcements Mayor Lyman explained how the City is developing a strategic plan in order to give guidance to the City Staff on implementing the City’s defined goals. The City Council already established vision and mission statements and is in the process of defining the values, goals and strategies. The public can comment and offer suggestions on the draft statements.

The final plan will be adopted in late 2013. The Climate Action Plan (see article on page 4) is a secondary plan intended to meet the sustainability goal in the Strategic Plan.

Various club members asked questions about the strategic plan and climate action plan:

  • Carla Hansen asked about community choice aggregation for power options. Mayor Lyman replied that it was a possibility but that no concrete steps had been taken as yet.
  • Scott Lyons asked about unquantifiable goals in the strategic plan and how the City plans to measure its progress in achieving such goals. Mayor Lyman replied that one of the items the City’s consultant/facilitator had emphasized was that all strategies should be quantifiable and verifiable.
  • Helen Cagampang asked about public health goals. Mayor Lyman replied that the City’s main focus is on safety and health access, with most direct health actions (vaccinations, clinics, etc) handled by the County.
  • Helen Dickey mentioned that installing solar panels and doublepaned windows “changed her life” and whole-heartedly supported the idea that the City should encourage energy efficiency for residential buildings as part of the emissions-reduction plan.

Overall, for the second Club meeting of 2013, we had a great presenter and great participation. Let’s see if the March Club meeting with a discussion of gun safety legislation can top it.