While an international discussion on curbing climate change is under way in Paris, a look at local cities’ policies reveals that climate action plans aren’t so hot in North County.

Passed in 2006, Assembly Bill 32 compels the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Local governments use a baseline set by the California Air Resources Board in 2008 that recommends cities and counties develop a plan to reduce emissions by 15 percent of 2005 levels, since most governments don’t know their 1990 levels.

In North County, the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido have adopted climate action plans.

After a primer on the greenhouse effect, the climate action plans list an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from government and community sources. They’re calculated roughly the same way: Add the effects of all direct sources of emissions (transportation and heating fuel consumed), and indirect sources (electricity purchased from a source that emits greenhouse gasses) to get a total amount of greenhouse gasses emitted.

After calculating the emissions from various sectors, like transportation, solid waste and construction, measures to achieve the 15-percent reduction from 2005 levels in those sectors are sometimes incorporated into a city’s general plan. In Carlsbad and Escondido, for example, those measures have included incorporating bicycle and pedestrian planning in circulation elements; promoting mixed-use, high-density infill development; efficient waste-disposal systems; efficient water-treatment systems; and residential and commercial energy requirements.

The cities that have not adopted climate action plans include those that have the most to lose in the form of rising sea levels: Oceanside, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Poway also lacks a plan, as does the county, which affects unincorporated areas, including Fallbrook, Ramona and Valley Center.

In Oceanside, which has developments at sea level along much of its nearly 3.5 miles of coastline, adapting to climate change has been a non-starter with some City Council and former Planning Commission members, who deny the premise of climate change.

That changed last year with a different Council, and new appointments to the Planning Commission. Oceanside began its inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in January, but stopped when its contract with CivicSpark, a program administered by the nonprofit Local Government Commission, ran out. Principal Planner Russ Cunningham said SDG&E has helped the city complete its inventory, and a climate action plan is still very preliminary.

In November, Solana Beach established a Climate Action Commission, and is currently evaluating applications to the nine-member group (although two of those seats will go to City Council members).

The Del Mar City Council is set to hear a draft of the climate action plan on Dec. 7, and officials from the Poway city manager’s office could not provide an update on the status of their plan.

Carlsbad Planning Ahead

Carlsbad is drafting a new master plan for the Barrio, which would add amenities to the historic working-class neighborhood.

The Barrio sits between Interstate 5 and the railroad tracks, and is mostly single-family homes and apartment buildings. The master plan for the area was adopted in 1996, and updates could call for adding beach access and denser development. Currently, residents have to travel south to Tamarack Avenue, or north into the nearby village to cross the tracks.

The city is also exploring the idea of building an “outdoor adventure” park, with a mountain bike course and zip lines. The Union-Tribune reported that in a separate project, the Parks and Recreation Department is looking into constructing an indoor recreation center for tamer uses, like culinary classes.

Also in Carlsbad, but outside the city’s jurisdiction: The county is set to vote on a new 20-year master plan for Palomar Airport, which was intended to be a commercial airport, but has no commercial tenants.

Also in the News

• Water districts across North County missed water conservation targets in October. (KPBS)

• The Vista Unified School District and the teacher’s union have reached an agreement to avoid a strike. The teachers will ratify a new contract, and the union will announce the results Dec 7. (Union-Tribune)

• The death of an Oceanside boy who was killed while riding his bike to school has sparked an effort to provide safer cycling access between two Oceanside neighborhoods along Coast Highway. (Seaside Courier)

 An effort to recall a member of the Poway school board is under way after many stops and starts. (Union-Tribune)

• The vacation rental market is expanding in Oceanside, while housing prices surge in coastal North County. (Union-Tribune, MarketWatch)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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