Mayor Sam Abed and his challenger Paul McNamara clashed this week in statements over the significance of the local Second Edition Climate Action Plan Report Card as it relates to the City of Escondido.
The “action plan” was issued by Climate Action Campaign, a non-profit advocacy and political organization that states that its mission is to “stop climate change.”
Reacting to the Climate Action Report Card, McNamara stated, “This objective analysis does a great service to our region by evaluating all Climate Action Plans and on the progress local governments are making to effectively address climate change. It is inspiring that five local cities, including San Diego and Chula Vista, and three in North County have adopted a 100% commitment to clean energy for their business and residents. I’m not sure if Escondido can get there, but I would like to evaluate what that might take. Several models I have reviewed show that this could be a new revenue source for Escondido.”
Stating that he supported many of the Report Card’s recommendations for Escondido, he added, “I would like to see us increase public involvement and release annual updates. Escondido should adopt aggressive clean energy goals that make fiscal sense, including water and conservation targets. On the transportation front we should promote ZEVs and get serious about smart growth strategies and effective transportation strategies. I also support evaluating a zero-waste goal if it works for our city.”
McNamara added, “I strongly support adding a significant goal for tree canopy cover, especially in our neighborhoods where trees are few and far between. Trees make for a more beautiful neighborhood, offer shade, in addition to helping reduce climate impacts.”
Turning to criticizing his opponent, McNamara said, “While I am encouraged that the city of Escondido is currently updating its plan, it is clear that it is long overdue. In the first report card, under Sam Abed’s leadership Escondido was dead last of all the governments with a climate plan. Ours was the worst. It isn’t surprising since Sam Abed has not been a leader on climate issues and, in fact, has rejected opportunities to partner with other cities to improve climate policies.
“As Mayor, I will take seriously the opportunities presented by the crisis and embrace innovative technology, public-private partnerships, and input from our residents and organization with expertise like the Climate Action Campaign, the Center for Sustainable Energy and our own local Escondido Climate Action Alliance.”
The Times-Advocate asked Mayor Abed for his reaction.
Abed stated, “The statements in the press release about Escondido Action Plan are inaccurate, misleading and confusing. Stating that Escondido is dead last is totally false. In addition, the Climate Action Campaign is a political organization with public transit and bike only agenda, advocating to limiting the car users and forcing the public into using transit and bicycles. While these modes of transportation are viable, they should be offered to the public as options, not mandates.”
Abed continued, “Here is an update on the city’s Action Plan. In 2012, Escondido was one of the first cities in the region to adopt a Climate Action Plan (CAP) as part of the City’s General Plan update. Since that time, newly prepared Climate Action Plans incorporate more updated and refined standards and policies. These updated standards were used by the Climate Action Campaign in their 2016 Report Card to assess Escondido’s CAP, which was identified as “needs improvement.” It should also be noted that this 2016 Report Card assessing all Climate Action Plans in the region identified five jurisdictions that had no commitment to even prepare a CAP.”
Abed concluded, “The Climate Action Campaign’s 2017 Report Card correctly identifies Escondido as ‘in progress’ for updating its Climate Action Plan, which is well underway. Escondido staff are currently working with SANDAG’s Technical Assistance Program and meeting every two weeks to establish the work program. The updated plan will incorporate updated standards and policies found in state-of-the-art Climate Action Plans. Staff will brief the City Council on Escondido’s CAP efforts in the next several months and anticipates completing the updated document by January 2019.”
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