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        OCTOBER 6, 2009

A workshop of the Planning Commission of the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair O’Loane at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 6, 2009 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

1.         Call to Order/Roll Call:  Comms.  Kerger, Sachs, Viers, Chair O’Loane

Staff:  Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Planning Manager; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Lieutenant Liz Gresham; Luisa Willnecker, Recording Secretary

Audience:    2

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3.  Purpose of Meeting/Overview

Planning Manager Debbie Chamberlain stated that tonight’s meeting is a workshop on the Draft Air Quality /Greenhouse Gas Element. Ms. Chamberlain added that this was the first time San Ramon has had an Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Element. Ms. Chamberlain further added that the purpose of tonight’s meeting was to receive direction and comments from the Planning Commission.

4. Discussion

Dave Mitchell – Air Quality Manager for Michael Brandman and Associates gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Element.  Mr. Mitchell stated that the Air Quality policies are addressed in the Open Space and Conservation Element of the General Plan 2020. The proposed Air Quality/ Greenhouse Element is closely connected with other elements such as Land Use, Traffic and Circulation, Housing and Economic Development.

Mr. Mitchell added that building standards have changed and have become more stringent on new developments. Mr. Mitchell further added that having air quality policies in the proposed General Plan 2030 would help reduce or mitigate air quality impacts as development occurs over time.

Mr. Mitchell stated that Assembly Bill (AB-32) the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Mr. Mitchell added that the California Air Resources Board is developing a statewide greenhouse gas emission inventory and a scoping plan that identifies measures to achieve this reduction target. Mr. Mitchell further added that the proposed General Plan 2030 provides a place for cities to identify policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Mitchell added that State Executive Order S-3-05 requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Mr. Mitchell added that the City of San Ramon has already made a commitment to sustainable development and air quality with existing programs such as expanding recycling programs, green business programs, and water conservation. Furthermore, the City will prepare and adopt a climate action plan within 18 months following completion of the proposed General Plan 2030.

Comm. Kerger asked if reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% below 1990 levels by the year 2020 was a realistic goal for the City of San Ramon. Mr. Mitchell replied yes and especially for new development. Comm. Kerger stated that the City of San Ramon considers the Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Element to be an important element of the proposed General Plan 2030. Comm. Kerger stated that since this is a regional issue the surrounding jurisdictions need to be involved.

Comm. Kerger also expressed her concerns about future development in Dublin. Mr. Mitchell replied that Senate Bill 375 (SB 375) requires a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) be developed and this would be a regional effort. Planning Manager Debbie Chamberlain added that she had attended the Contra Costa County Planning Directors meeting where the cities discussed developing their own Sustainable Communities Strategy.

Comm. Viers stated that AB- 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act requires that the Air Resources Board determine the statewide greenhouse gas emissions level in 1990. The act also demands that the Board approve a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit, equal to that level, to be achieved by the year 2020 and asked why the number 1990 was the target year. Mr. Mitchell replied the base year is consistent with the Kyoto Protocol. Comm. Viers asked if other cities have incorporated an Air Quality/ Greenhouse Gas Element into their General Plan. Mr. Mitchell replied cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, San Francisco and Sonoma County. Comm. Viers asked for clarification on what a Sustainable Communities Strategy is. Mr. Mitchell replied that the SCS is a plan that is adopted at the regional level that demonstrates how the region will achieve its Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction targets.

Comm. Viers asked how the City of San Ramon received a Tree City Designation. Ms. Chamberlain replied that the City of San Ramon applied for a Tree City USA designation.

Comm. Viers asked if the City would be developing a schedule to replace or convert existing City vehicles to clean fuel.  Planning Director Phil Wong replied the City has Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles and will be looking into Hybrid vehicles and Bio-Diesel. The purchase of the new vehicles is dependent on the City budget.

Vice Chair Sachs commented that he would like to revise the language in on page X-1 first paragraph to reference the “region” as a contributor to the generation of the greenhouse gas. Vice Chair Sachs further added the second to last paragraph should include a reference to Economic Development since the air quality is impacted by many aspects of the environment and the lifestyle choices we make. Vice Chair Sachs also added that on page X-18 section 3.I.2   a policy  requires establishing an authority to assist in monitoring the City’s progress in meeting the greenhouse gas emission targets and asked if other cities have established such an authority.  Mr. Wong replied that he is not aware of any other jurisdictions that have a similar policy.  Mr. Wong added that the City felt it was appropriate to include this policy because it demonstrates the importance of what the City is trying to accomplish. Mr. Wong further added that this “authority” can be appointed by the City Council to oversee all the policies and work with of the various City departments.

Vice Chair Sachs asked if other cities throughout the State have adopted a solar program for new development and existing homes, which would provide loans to homeowners with repayment overtime.  Mr. Mitchell replied that he is unaware of other cities that have adopted such a program and with new technology, there are different solar panel installation programs that are available to homeowners. Ms. Chamberlain cautioned the Planning Commission about requiring specific types of programs in a policy document. The Climate Action Plan is the appropriate place to identify specific strategies to reduce GHG’s.  Ms. Chamberlain added that the City will be looking at different reduction techniques, their respective costs, and the impact of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Chair O’Loane expressed his concern about establishing an authority to assist in monitoring the City’s progress in meeting greenhouse gas emission targets and added that he is not certain if  the term “authority” is appropriate. Chair O’Loane added that there needs be an ability to bring departments together to make decisions. Chair O’Loane asked for clarification on a “solar ready roof.” Mr. Mitchell replied a solar ready roof would need to point in a southwest direction not be blocked by trees, or any practical shade that can obstruct natural light.

Comm. Kerger added that the program San Ramon offers provides an opportunity to recycle so residents do not need to drive to Martinez.

Comm. Sachs stated that transportation is 80% of City‘s emissions and that the goal is to reduce overall emissions by 15%. Comm. Sachs asked how we reduce transportation emissions. Mr. Mitchell replied that replacing vehicles over time with new vehicles that are cleaner burning and reducing vehicles miles traveled would also be a factor. Mr. Mitchell added that mixed use and high-density development will also assist in achieving the 15% reduction from new developments.  

  5. Wrap up and Next Steps    

Ms. Chamberlain stated staff would continue to work with the consultants to make final revisions and forward the changes to the Planning Commission.

There being no further discussion, Chair O’Loane adjourned the meeting at 8:10 p.m.  

Respectively Submitted, Luisa Willnecker



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