March 4, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

City’s Role: Green Choices:

New awareness of our planet’s fragility translates into environmental action only to the extent we choose to change our habits – and the City’s role is to offer better choices and make changes easier.

For years we’ve encouraged simple things like energy-saving fluorescent bulbs and water-wise showers and toilets. Now, though, in the 21st century, climate change and imminent drought have raised the stakes. Santa Monica is ready with stronger choices and better incentive policies to help us all make needed shifts.

First, we can review the simple things that have been in our power for years, but perhaps weren’t compelling yet. Does $3.50 per gallon gasoline make the clean-air LNG Big Blue Bus look better, maybe one or two days a week? Does the driest year in decades make you think twice about wasting water?

Now, think about the bigger changes you can make to join the effort to save our planet. Gasoline means air pollution and war. Buy an electric car, or even a high-mileage, low-emission hybrid, and Santa Monica will let you park free at meters. Plug your EV or NEV into City power all over town – electric vehicle drivers always get a charge out of Santa Monica.

Electricity from fossil fuels like coal or gas just doesn’t make sense any more. All Santa Monica City facilities have run on renewable resource electricity for many years, but now our Solar Santa Monica pilot program makes it turnkey-easy to go solar at home or at your business. We connect you with suppliers, plans, even financing, to get all of us “off the grid” by 2020.

No matter how careful you are with water usage inside your home, your garden hose can hose your efforts. Santa Monica City Hall offers Water Efficient Landscape Grants to install high-efficiency irrigation systems and drought-tolerant native plants.

If you have the willingness, Santa Monica has the expertise. You don’t need to spend weeks at the library or on the Internet to become an effective environmentalist. Just call Santa Monica’s Sustainable Works team, and they’ll walk you through an audit of your day-to-day activities and how you can turn your own world greener.

Best of all, experience now clearly shows that going green isn’t expensive – it will save you money! Our Chamber of Commerce has joined the City in annual Sustainable Quality Awards [Santa Monica Mirror, May 17-23], and getting green has proven to mean more green (money) for businesses as well as households.

Sometimes better options don’t exist yet, and the City of Santa Monica helps create those opportunities so in the future you have a choice. We recently improved our Green Building Guidelines, encouraging options like plant-covered “green roofs,” and plugs at every parking space to make an electric car or plug-in hybrid an easier decision for you.

Most of what the City of Santa Monica encourages for the environment is done through incentives, and by educating us all about better choices. Rarely, Santa Monica will step in to prohibit something like the Styrofoam fast food packaging that was overwhelming our beaches, Santa Monica Bay and the ocean beyond.

By living or working in Santa Monica, you are an environmental leader. Cities around the world know Santa Monica as a community where we work together to sustain our quality of life for our children and for generations into the future.

It’s good to lead, and it’s good to know you can actually save money in the long run by making greener choices. The real question is, what will you do today? Listed to the right are just some of the great resources the City of Santa Monica offers to help you live a greener, better life.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown is the liaison to the Santa Monica Task Force on the Environment.

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