Santa Monica was recognized as one of the top ten “sustainable cities” in the U.S. at a ceremony on the U.N.’s World Environment Day at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco on June 2.
Santa Monica was the fifth most sustainable city in SustainLane’s U.S. City Rankings.
Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor and the City’s Environmental Program Division Manager Brian Johnson attended the ceremony.
The SustainLane U.S. City Rankings measure 25 U.S. cities’ cumulative performance and programs in a dozen economic development and quality of life categories. The index, developed by the Bay area organization, integrates data from 20 public and non-governmental organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Census, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Working Group, Smart Growth America, and Trust for Public Land, on each city with 18 “qualitative inputs” gathered from city interviews and surveys.
The 12 “economic development and quality of life” categories were transportation, air quality, tap water quality, food and agriculture, land use, zoning, planning, green building, energy/climate policy, solid waste, city innovation, and knowledge base.
According to participating cities, “the peer-reviewed study is the first and most comprehensive U.S. city sustainability performance benchmark.”
In addition to taking fifth place in the overall rankings, Santa Monica ranked first among all cities in green buildings per capita, tied for the number one ranking with San Francisco in solid waste diversion and recycling, and leads the nation in farmers markets per capita. Santa Monica was also singled out for excellence in “energy and climate policy and innovation in pollution prevention and reducing urban runoff.”
In conclusion, SustainLane noted that Santa Monica “would vie for the very top spots in our study were it not for the Los Angeles Basin’s air quality” and the lack of a regional public transportation infrastructure. The evaluators said, “These challenges that face the region as a whole aside, little Santa Monica is proving that the greater Los Angeles area can live more sustainably in important ways.”
“For years Santa Monica has taken pride in its leadership role in the sustainable city movement,” O’Connor said. “It is an honor to be recognized for our achievements and included in this exceptional group of top ten sustainable cities. Santa Monica has shown that even the small cities can lead the way and we hope that these awards inspire many other U.S. cities, large and small, to begin reaping the benefits of becoming a sustainable city.”
SustainLane CEO James Elsen said, “We are very pleased to recognize the outstanding achievements of the Top 10 sustainable cities in America. Our hope is that in highlighting the great successes of these cities, others will be inspired to follow their leadership, and together we will all enjoy increased vitality, a vibrant economy, and a better future.”SustainLane’s top ten cities were 1. San Francisco, 2. Portland, 3. Berkeley, 4. Seattle, 5. Santa Monica, 6. Austin, 7. New York, 8. Chicago, 9. Oakland, and 10. Minneapolis and Denver (tied).