Vanguard Weekly Council Question: Week 9 – Climate Change

Davis City Hall with an old style bicycle statue out front

In May, there will be a special election to fill the vacancy in the 3rd District left by the departure of Lucas Frerichs to the County Board of Supervisors.

Filing to compete for that seat are two candidates: Donna Neville and Francesca Wright.  Each week between now and the election, the Vanguard will pose the candidates weekly questions in which they have between 250 and 350 words to respond.

Question 9: Discuss your recommendations for Davis to do its part to address climate change.

Francesca Wright

There are personal, community-based and municipal approaches for doing our part to address climate change and prepare for climate resilience.  Davisites are way ahead of the state curve in converting to cleaner energy.  Individuals with the financial means have already been transitioning to electric vehicles, rooftop solar, HVAC and appliance electrification. Our renters have had less access to onsite solar generation and EV charging, but are more likely to use public and human-powered transportation. Community organizations like Cool Davis, the Yolo Citizens Climate Lobby, Tree Davis, and the Ocean Iron Fertilization Alliance have been working to educate our residents to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and understand carbon sequestration. I believe the ongoing efforts of individuals and community groups will continue to be the source of the greatest progress in addressing climate change.

This coming week, the City Council will be adopting our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP).  The revised plan has extended the target date for carbon neutrality from 2030 to 2040 due to the real obstacles for electrification.  Many CAAP activities are contingent on the city finding the funding to implement programs.  Our current city budget has staffing at ¾ of our 2008 level, and is at least 10% underfunded for meeting our pension and other unfunded liabilities.  We are inheriting a fiscal shortfall that cannot be wished away.

I will work with our council to:

  • prioritize accessing state and federal climate change programs and dollars;
  • prioritize energy programs that help low-income and vulnerable populations;
  • support Cool Davis’ “Make a Plan Program”;
  • upgrade building department’s permitting process to include smart apps for solar installations and expedited services for electrification;
  • require electrification for all new home construction;
  • follow the lead of our Utilities Commission regarding negotiations with PGE for smoother transitions for electrification;
  • work with community experts to initiate microgrid programs;
  • initiate planning for the future of transit within the City of Davis, including engagement with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies;
  • prioritize updating our general plan to address mixed use along our transit corridors;
  • initiate dialogue with Caltrans about electronic signage approaching Hwy 113 and the I80/I5 intersection to divert drivers from the causeway when appropriate;
  • address climate resilience by fostering neighborhood associations.

Donna Neville

This week the city council is expected to approve the draft Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

(CAAP), which presents our goals, priorities and recommended actions for achieving 2040 carbon neutrality. If elected, I will work to implement the CAAP, ensuring that we can achieve those goals. We need to take advantage of available financial and other types of incentives, so we make it affordable for people to take the actions recommended in the CAAP. Equity needs to be a strong consideration.

Not surprisingly, the analysis supporting the CAAP shows that 75% of our greenhouse gas emissions are caused by gas-fueled vehicle mile trips. Reducing those trips requires making affordable, accessible, clean public transportation, safe bike routes and other options available. The existing partnerships between the City and our transportation partners are an important part of this process and I will continue those collaborations. Promoting cleaner, greener mobility throughout the City is yet another reason we need to update our General Plan. The Circulation Element of the General Plan, which addresses transportation and related issues, needs to focus on greenhouse gas emissions and air quality standards. We need to integrate relevant parts of the CAAP into our Circulation Element so that we don’t create confusion or conflicting priorities.

I will also get to work implementing our Davis Urban Forest Management Plan. This plan is a spectacular accomplishment that drew upon the expertise of city staff, the Tree Commission, Cool Davis, Tree Davis, and others. Now it’s time to put it into action. Improving our urban forest canopy will help mitigate climate change by providing shade, which reduces cooling costs. Urban forests also provide other benefits by removing CO2 and creating habitat.

I will consult with experts who know what it takes to address climate change and mitigate its impacts. UCD has some of the world’s leading climate scientists and we need to capitalize on the opportunity to integrate forward-thinking and cutting-edge research into our plans. We also have many other non-campus experts as well. I will tap their knowledge so that I make good decisions based on sound science.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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