October 2022 Newsletter

Building electrification comes to Martinez

Good news! On October 5, Martinez City Council unanimously passed a new building electrification ordinance. Starting in November, all newly built residential buildings, hotels, offices, and retail buildings are to be constructed as all-electric buildings without natural gas infrastructure.

Martinez is the third city in the county to pass a building electrification (BE) measure, joining Richmond and Hercules. Contra Costa’s BE ordinance, passed in January 2022, applies only to unincorporated areas in the county, so there’s lots more to do.

Do you live in one of the 16 Contra Costa cities that don’t yet have a BE ordinance? Here’s one excellent way to take effective local action on climate change: make your city the next one to pass BE. You don’t have to be an expert on greenhouse gas emissions or building codes. To find out how you can get involved, please shoot us an email: info@350contracosta.org.

Climate Action: does your city have a plan?

Across California, many cities and counties have developed a Climate Action Plan (sometimes called a Sustainability Plan) to help them focus their efforts to address the climate crisis.

A Climate Action Plan should address issues of climate justice first and foremost. It must aim to make sure all residents live in clean, healthy homes and neighborhoods, free of industrial pollution; have access to parks, open space, and fresh food; and can easily move through the city or county.

Of course, any strong CAP must detail the ways that the jurisdiction will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases it’s putting into the atmosphere. It should include specific measures in plans for land use, transportation, and building codes. Here are examples:

  • In buildings, replace electricity generated by burning fossil fuels with electricity from renewable sources like solar energy
  • Reduce the amount of energy that buildings use by mandating energy-efficient appliances and ‘green’ building materials
  • Make it easy for people to walk, bus, or bike to shopping districts rather than drive.

In addition to decreasing emissions, jurisdictions can address climate change by increasing the amount of carbon that’s being drawn down out of the atmosphere and stored underground—a process that’s called Natural Carbon Sequestration. The more trees, shrubs, and plants a city has, the more carbon it’s drawing down.

CAPs in Contra Costa

Contra Costa County is in the process of updating its CAP. This CAP Interim Work Plan provides a good look at the goals and specific steps the county is working on.

Only ten of our county’s 19 cities have CAPs—and just having a plan doesn’t mean a city is doing an adequate job of addressing climate change. This detailed infographic provides information about each city’s actions on climate.

Whether or not your city has a CAP, you can make positive change happen in your community. Get started by checking out your city’s website. Email your city councilmember and ask what the city is doing about the crisis. And of course, reach out to us by emailing info@350contracosta.org.

Attention Walnut Creek residents—meet your climate candidate

Here’s your chance to meet and talk with Laura Patch, the progressive, climate-forward candidate for Walnut Creek City Council. Come to the house party on Friday, October 14 starting at 6:30pm near Larkey Park. Get all the details here.

Newsom signs some climate bills into law, vetoes others

In September, Governor Newsom signed about 40 climate bills into law, including these important measures:

  • AB 2097 concerns parking spaces around new residential, commercial, or other development. In the past, cities have generally required a minimum number of parking spaces for new development. AB 2097 prohibitsthese minimums, with some exceptions, in areas served by public transit.
  • SB 379, the Solar Access Act, requires municipalities to streamline their solar permitting process, cutting wait times and permitting costs.
  • AB 2083 prohibits investor-owned utilities like PG&E from charging ratepayers to cover the cost of their wildfire settlement payments. Until now, when these utilities were found negligent in causing a wildfire, they could use funds from ratepayers to pay the settlement amount. AB 2083 was authored by Contra Costa’s own Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda).

Disappointing vetoes

Although the governor has styled himself a climate champion, his record isn’t perfect. For example, he vetoed these two bills:

  • AB 2146, also authored by Bauer-Kahan, would have prohibited the use of five neonicotinoid pesticides in non-agricultural settings like backyards, playing fields, and golf courses. These pesticides are a threat to our health and a major factor in the massive die-off of bees, butterflies, and other insects we depend on to pollinate our food crops.
  • SB 1482 would have increased access to EV charging stations in multifamily complexes that have designated parking spaces.

Now, it’s time to look ahead to the next legislative session and start working for better, stronger climate bills in 2023.

Sustainability Week in Walnut Creek, October 22 – 28

We’re joining Sustainable Walnut Creek to bring you a whole week of engaging, informative events that will help you be part of the climate solution. Learn about climate advocacy; a planet-friendly diet; restoring Walnut Creek’s namesake watershed; reducing use of plastics; home electrification—and more! Get details here.

EcoFest in Walnut Creek’s Civic Park, Saturday, October 22, 11am – 3pm

Sustainability Week will be off to a great start with EcoFest in the Park! Local climate groups will offer information and demonstrations on how to live more sustainably—from water-wise gardening to upcycling to e-bikes and electric cars. It’ll be fun for the whole family with live music, circus performers, and a kids’ art zone. Wear your Halloween costumes for the Eco trick-or-treat!

See you in Civic Park on Saturday, October 22, from 11am to 3pm. You won’t want to miss this!

Stay safe,

Lisa and Emily.

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The time for climate action is NOW!

©350 Contra Costa Action

This message has not been expressly authorized, requested, or approved by any federal, state, or local candidate, candidate’s committee or their agents, or by any ballot issue committee.

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