Climate change could turn Beach Hill into Beach Island. Collectively, we probably generate more carbon emissions by traffic going over Highway 17 and then up and down Highway 1.
For 40 years, I’ve worked to protect the environment. I championed recycling and energy conservation as student body co-president at Stanford. I created and led City of San Jose’s renowned Department of Environmental Services, using a holistic environmental systems approach to tackle the huge solid waste, toxics, energy use, and water and wastewater challenges for the 10th largest city in the country.
Here in Santa Cruz, over a decade ago, I funded and launched the City’s Climate Change Action Program, and was honored as the only local government official to serve on a National Academy of Sciences evaluation of federal climate change programs. Currently, I am Chair of the Coastal Watershed Council, working to protect and embrace the San Lorenzo River and other watersheds.
Personally our family walks our talk. We have only owned zero emission electric vehicles for the last two years, and hybrids for the decade before that. Now that I’ve cut back on my professional work to serve our community, you’ll most often find me on my bike.
But there is more to do.
Address Climate Change. We must reduce our carbon emissions with wise planning and decreased energy consumption through electric vehicle and solar infrastructure. We must also prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change, using recent CalTrans funding to initiate a community-wide discussion, first on West Cliff and then more broadly, about the costs and tradeoffs of beach protection and access, sand and surf changes, property rights and the impacts to streets and infrastructure.
Embrace our River. We must embrace our River instead of turning our backs on it. This will be one of my highest priorities. As Chair of the Coastal Watershed Council, I am working on a new strategy that has proven itself in many communities. Let’s reclaim the river as the historic and environmental center of our community, as well as the source of over half of our drinking water.
Balance Growth and Development. Housing growth is inevitable, given State requirements and market demands, but it is also environmentally wise. Environmental impacts are reduced when housing is built closer to jobs, and we need both right here in Santa Cruz. However, we must mitigate the specific impacts of any proposed project through wise planning and 360 degree design review. I have successfully used comprehensive design review in communities as diverse as Scottsdale, Los Gatos and Milpitas.
Improved Transit and Transportation. We must increase zero emissions transportation, such as walking, cycling, and shared vehicle use. New infrastructure and completion of the Rail Trail will help and preserve transit options for the future. These include alternative transportation improvements such as more and higher quality bike lanes, elimination of the dangerous gutter line for edge of street biking, and easier home EV charger installations.
Preserve our Parks and Open Spaces. As yards get smaller with ADU’s and increased development, our parks and open spaces become even more important. We must expand and implement our Parks and Open Space Master Plan. In particular, I’m excited about the prospect of a crisscrossing linear parks along our river and the coast that connect all of our neighborhoods to our parks and open spaces, and the State Parks beyond.