City Works to Plan Sustainable Future
Alameda is accepting the 21st century challenge to create a city that is healthy, inclusive and resilient. Some challenges the Island City faces include traffic, high housing costs, aging infrastructure and increasingly, the impacts of climate change. Alamedans have experienced three major wildfire smoke incidents in the last 15 months, including weeks of unhealthy air quality due to the recent Camp Fire. Less visibly, the San Francisco Bay is gradually rising, threatening our shoreline parks, businesses and homes.
Alameda already faces flooding risk during king tides and large storms. As time goes on and the sea level rises, flooding will become more frequent, and large storms will inundate areas that haven’t flooded at all in the psat. The effects in Alameda are shown on the accompanying maps, which show 36 inches of sea level rise above current high tide, a scenario that is possible within 50 years. The climate risks that used to be abstract are now real, and include other climate change impacts like fire, heat and drought.
In the face of these great challenges, Alameda is not standing still. The City Council unanimously kicked off the development of a Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to further reduce Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience to climate change impacts. The plan addresses both physical and social aspects of resilience, understanding that not everyone is affected in the same way by heat, smoke or flooding. Through this plan, Alamedans will have an opportunity to improve the city and make sure Alameda thrives in the years ahead despite the challenges it faces.
One of the core pieces of the plan is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are important because they drive climate change. The more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the more floods, wildfire smoke and heat waves will transpire. If global emissions don’t fall quickly, San Francisco Bay will eventually rise so much that most of Alameda will be under threat. In response, Alamedans are reducing their carbon footprint by walking, biking and using transit more instead of driving alone.
Residents and businesses are reducing single-use plastics such as straws, recycling and composting more and electrifying where they can. The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan will address what more needs to be done, and decide how ambitious the city aims to be in cutting greenhouse gases. Some strategies will be low cost or even pay for themselves. Many also will advance other community priorities such as reducing traffic, improving air and water quality and enhancing Alameda’s open spaces. But some may be difficult and expensive.
Everyone will play a part in meeting this challenge to make the community more sustainable and resilient. Renters can purchase renters’ earthquake insurance so they’re covered when the Big One hits. Property owners may be able to retrofit their homes to eliminate the need for natural gas. Try to ride a bike or take transit a little more often, strive for zero waste and get to know neighbors better so that we can take care of each other in the case of a disaster.
Everyone includes the region. Recognizing that regional collaboration is key to success, the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan includes regional players like the Port of Oakland, Alameda County, East Bay Regional Parks District and the state’s Department of Transportation. Even so, Alameda is demonstrating leadership through local action. This leadership has a tangible benefit — the more the city leads, the more likely it is to receive grant funding for much needed projects, and the more likely the region will step up in the ways the city needs them to.
Everyone includes you, too. An effort of this scale depends on community participation. In September, some neighbors attended climate-change workshops and brainstormed ideas for climate action.
The next workshop takes place at the Alameda High School cafeteria from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 26. Alameda neighbors will have an opportunity to give feedback and prioritize measures related to greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation. They can discuss sustainability and resilience strategies. Everyone is encouraged to attend, regardless of prior involvement or experience.
Attendees can park at the high school parking lot on Walnut Street between Central and Encinal avenues or any of the school parking lots, then follow the signs. For those unable to attend the workshop in person, the proposed climate action strategies are available for input online at www.opentownhall.com/7127. The link goes live on the same day as the workshop. Finally, for more resources on climate action in Alameda, see www.alamedaca.gov/climateplan.