The City of Woodland Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC) hosted a community input forum on the environment, climate change, and sustainability at the Leake Center during the afternoon of Saturday, July 9. Nearly 50 Woodland residents and stakeholders participated in the event to share their ideas, concerns, and questions about environmental issues in Woodland as well as the role the City can play when it comes to global challenges such as climate change.
The range of topics shared by participants varied from water conservation to waste management to alternate modes of transportation and air quality. Many comments and topics connected back to concerns about climate change.
“It’s clear that many Woodland residents want the City to be proactive and a leader when it comes to environmental sustainability and tackling the climate crisis. They get frustrated when healthy trees, which keep homes cool by providing shade and sequester carbon as they grow, are cut down by homeowners and replaced by water-thirsty grass lawns, even though we are in middle of an extreme drought,” shared Allison Martin, a volunteer member of the advisory committee and one of the event’s organizers. “They wish there were more ordinances, education, and incentives from the City to help their neighbors design their yards to be more efficient and sustainable, and with the bigger picture – reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and slowing the effects of climate change – in mind.”
Several attendees, including Josie Enriquez from the Yolo Family Resource Center, expressed concern over the health effects of smoke and air pollution caused by wildfires, which are increasing in both frequency and intensity in California largely due to climate change-related drought conditions. “I’m thinking about my own mother and families are thinking about their children with asthma. And it’s scary, because this is our new normal and I don’t know if we can fix it,” Enriquez shared during the event.
Others expressed a desire for Woodland to have more green belts like those found in the nearby City of Davis, allowing for safer bicycle travel across town and less dependency on gas-powered vehicles. Others asked if the City might consider targeting "low hanging fruit" policies such as imposing a citywide ban on petroleum-based products like Styrofoam take-out containers and single-use plastics, providing presentations in school classrooms, or swapping out toxic cleaning chemicals used in city-owned public spaces.
Some members of the audience were also surprised to learn that the City has a Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP is designed to guide the City, its residents, and local businesses in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions consistent with State goals for addressing California's contributions to climate change.
Many newer Woodland residents were delighted to learn about the strategic steps the City took towards securing its water future as part of the Davis-Woodland Water Supply Project (DWWSP). The DWWSP included a shift from groundwater to surface water usage with an emphasis on improving water storage and water quality. The Project actually received the National Design-Build Project Award from the Design-Build Institute of America back in 2016.
Other positive acknowledgements included the noticeable increase of electric vehicle charging stations, the community solar program (Valley Clean Energy), and the expansion of the City’s organics collection program, the latter of which recently grew under Senate Bill (SB) 1383, a piece of California legislation intended to curb the amount of greenhouse gases produced by landfilling food and yard waste.
In fact, many forum attendees were taken aback when Rosie Ledesma, Environmental Resources Analyst for the City of Woodland, explained that the City can be fined up to $10,000 per day if it fails to meet the diversion requirements of SB 1383. Diversion is important because at landfills, naturally occurring anaerobic bacteria convert organic waste into methane gas, which according to the Environmental Defense Fund has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide and is responsible for at least 25% of today’s global warming issues.
With all of that in mind, what is next for the Sustainability Advisory Committee?
“First, we’re going to reach out to all of the event’s participants and make sure they know we want to stay connected with them and that we want them to stay connected with each other,” explained Martin. “Liza Grandia, another member of our Committee, is working on a horizontal network where everyone can continue to contribute ideas, identify opportunities, and build momentum following this event. We’re hoping to have a virtual input event here within the next few months as well.”
Meanwhile, Martin will be analyzing the data collected from the input event and submitting it to City Council just in time for their July 19 meeting. At that meeting, Council may be voting on whether or not to endorse Climate Safe California, a platform with a bold set of policies designed to effectively address the climate crises while ensuring a just transition for California workers, families, and communities who are dependent on the fossil fuel industry. At the Community Input event, more than three-quarters of participants indicated that they think the City Council should endorse the platform.
All Woodland residents, business owners, and stakeholders are strongly encouraged to provide input to the Sustainability Advisory Committee by e-mailing SACmeetings@cityofwoodland.org or by attending its monthly meetings at the Woodland Community Center. The meetings are held the third Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. However, the Committee will be on recess in August and possibly in September due to City staffing issues. The Committee plans to reconvene in October. Meeting agendas and past meeting minutes can be found here.
Photos courtesy of Allison Martin, Sustainability Advisory Committee
Woodland Mayor Pro Tempore Vicky Fernandez (second from left) listens to Woodland stakeholders discuss Woodland water sources and quality issues at the Environmental Sustainability Community Input Forum, which was hosted by the Woodland Sustainability Advisory Committee at the Leake Center on July 9, 2022.
Woodland Sustainability Advisory Committee Member Mark Aulman (second from left) shares his thoughts on Woodland land use topics as part of a discussion starter during the Environmental Sustainability Community Input Forum. The Forum was hosted by the Woodland Sustainability Advisory Committee at the Leake Center on July 9, 2022.
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About the Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC)
The SAC was established in 2019 to help the City of Woodland achieve its state mandated conservation and Climate Action Plan (CAP) goals, as well as provide recommendations to the City Council regarding local environmental policies and issues. A component of those responsibilities is to serve as a forum for public input and feedback on local environmental sustainability topics and CAP implementation. The SAC meets from 6pm-8pm the third Wednesday of each month at the Woodland Community Center (East Street). For more information about the SAC and other environmental sustainability opportunities, please visit envirowoodland.org.