URGENT ACTION REQUESTED for June 16 City Council Meeting




Item 7B on the June 16 El Cerrito City Council Agenda is about revenue, expenditures and costs.

COVID-19 and Climate Change

The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally revealed the connection between individual and public health, the economy, and the health of our environment. People of color are most impacted by the coronavirus, polluted water, dirty air, and contaminated soil. Around the world, people demonstrated that they could change their behavior instantly when their health was threatened by an invisible force of microscopic size.

Unlike the coronavirus, the Climate Emergency is a visible, palpable threat: rising seas are already affecting coastal communities that in turn will impact the salinity of bays, estuaries, rivers and creeks. Temperatures are the hottest this year since they have been recorded. Deforestation is causing widespread damage to air, water, and soil quality.

The  Climate Emergency has already started—higher temperatures and another drought year spell trouble for everyone, especially unhoused people and people without access to AC or who are living in places with few windows and cross-breezes. In El Cerrito, our  library and community center have been our cooling centers. Their closure means no place for people to cool down on super hot days.

One benefit of the shelter in place health order has been clearer skies which means easier breathability for people with respiratory ailments and allergies. More wildlife has come out to delight us—birds, bees, butterflies, and more.

UNFORTUNATELY, IT TOOK DESTROYING OUR ECONOMY TO GET PEOPLE TO CHANGE BECAUSE WE WERE NOT PREPARED. El Cerrito did not plan for such an emergency.  We have no alternative power system for the City; we haven’t invested in green business initiatives that could save our small businesses and do good by the environment; we have no alternatives for cooling centers, and clean drinking water; we have no plan for how to feed people should food scarcity occur throughout the community; and we have no local health center.

Despite all this, the City Manager in her June 9 City Council Budget Study Session directive wrote, “ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS This section is not applicable to this agenda item.”  The Consultant hired by the City Manager further put in his PowerPoint presentation, “Foster environmental sustainability citywide” at LOW priority in the short term (6 months).”  In the mid-term he put it at MID priority, and only in 5 YEARS did he assign HIGH priority.

El Cerrito and the world do not have 5 years to start thinking about environmental sustainability. The progress we have made in recent years can easily backslide for lack of attention.

The City has a Climate Action Plan that was supposed to be reviewed this year. With the fiscal cliff our city is working to alleviate, this is the best time to re-imagine our city—not just slash expenses, but how we treat our environment for improved public health, social equity, healthier jobs and a healthier economy.  Here are 4 things that can move us quicker into integrating

-the integration of climate action in all operations by including it in every city government job description

-the City Council Sub-committee on Climate Action report to be released immediately for public discussion and action

-the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 50% by the year 2030

-the city to allow El Cerrito resident volunteers to work with city staff to activate GHG reductions, greening of local businesses, and educating the community

If you believe the City should include climate change actions in its 2020-21 budget as a priority, please email comments by Monday, June 15 to the City Clerk at cityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Subject heading must state “Public Comments – Agenda Item #7B” in order to be included in the City Council members’ packets.

Let’s advocate for Community Emergency Responsiveness Training (CERT) for Society!

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