Santa Monica’ s Fourth Annual Sustainable City Report Card was released on September 18. The Report Card is produced for the City by the Sustainable Task Force, who review the City’s indicator data and adjust the data into the final grades.
Dean Kubani, Manager of the Environmental Programs Division, noted at the Report Card presentation that this year, the Report Card is a “story of collaboration.”
“It’s always been the City government that has been [working on] sustainability, but over the last year, we have had dozens of collaborative efforts across the board,” said Kubani.
Here are the eight categories of the Report Card. Each bears a basic grade plus a second grade for “effort.”
Resource Conservation: Grade: C+
This is one of the improved grades. Although Santa Monica continues to generate solid waste in excess of the Sustainable Plan ceiling, solid waste diversion improved this year to 68 percent, and water usage is down by 6 percent. The City is increasing its use of renewable power sources, but electricity and natural gas consumption have increased.
Environmental and Public Health: Grade C
This year marked the beginning of a comprehensive 20-year plan to improve Santa Monica Bay’s water quality. Still, there was an increase in posted beach warnings throughout the year. The City banned non-recyclable plastic take-out containers, and authorized staff to develop a ban on plastic bags. The number of households properly disposing of hazardous waste increased to 43 percent.
Transportation: Grade C+
Big Blue Bus usage has increased in the last two years by 2.3 percent. A collaborative bus transit program between the Blue Bus and Santa Monica College reduced auto usage by 1.6 million car trips. The City’s bike valet parking program parked more than 20,000 bikes for free. However, the City still needs to reach its transportation goals.
Economic Development: Grade B
Santa Monica is maintaining a strong economy, with growth in the areas of tourism, finance, and information. However, the City’s jobs/housing balance rose to 1.55 this year, a move further away from the Sustainable City Plan 1.0 target.
Open Space and Land Use: Grade A-
Santa Monica has improved its overall urban forest by 2 percent, with more diversity in the age and species of its trees. More park space has been added, including the conversion of 83 parking spaces by the beach into the Beach Green project.
Housing: Grade C
While the affordability of more than half of the City’s rent-controlled units has been lost since 1999 due to state-mandated vacancy control, and controlled housing stock for low-income residents continues to decrease, the City is working to provide new affordable housing. This year 118 units of affordable housing were completed and 389 more are in development.
Community Education and Civic Participation: Grade A-
It’s no secret that Santa Monicans are very active in civic affairs. The five active neighborhood organizations, five business improvement districts, the participation of citizens in the Land Use and Circulation Element project, and attendance at environmental expositions, the Santa Monica Festival, and GLOW, all contributed to a high grade in this area.
Human Dignity: Grade B-
In attempting to meet the basic human needs of its residents, Santa Monica has continued to work on issues of disability, employment, and homeless services. Safety concerns have been addressed with work on reducing gang violence and with the formation of the SM Police’s Neighborhood Resource Officer program.
The Sustainable City Report Card for 2008 is available at smepd.org.