Upper Westside Water Assessment

On December 6, 2022, ECOS submitted a letter of comment on the City of Sacramento City Council Special Meeting, Dec. 6, 2022, 2 pm Agenda Item 14 – Upper Westside Water Supply Assessment, File ID: 2022-02041.

Below is an excerpt of our letter, as well as a link to the letter in full.

ECOS understands that if you’re required by law to prepare this Water Supply Assessment, you must comply. But while you are considering this resolution, we would like to raise some serious concerns about the proposed Upper Westside project. We strongly oppose this project for many reasons…

Click here to read the letter in full.

ECOS 2022 End-of-Year Fundraiser

December 2022

Please consider supporting ECOS with a tax-deductible donation. Thank you so much for your generosity.

During the holiday season, let’s remember Mother Earth, and give thanks for her beauty and her stability. As we consider global and national efforts to fight climate change, let us pledge to do more locally.

Over this past year, partners and members of ECOS have worked together to further the sustainability of our land, water, and air in the Sacramento region. As we have for many years, we leveraged our advocacy efforts and relied upon each others’ expertise and good will.

This coming year, we pledge to collaborate again, and support our major jurisdictions and transit agency as they develop programs of projects related to community infrastructure, transportation, and green building to address climate change and take advantage of federal funding now available.

With the climate crisis escalating, we need to be even more effective in our advocacy. We need to persuade our elected leaders to take bold steps to reduce GHG emissions as fast as possible. To do this, we need your help.

We invite you to join us in 2023 and share your time and talents. But for today, please support ECOS with a tax-deductible donation at https://www.ecosacramento.net/donate/.

Best wishes to you and your friends and families.

Report on Activities in 2022

Climate Action Plans (CAP)

Over the past two years, our advocacy resulted in improvements to Sacramento County’s CAP, however many of the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures are still vague and unquantifiable. Although we remain concerned the CAP relies too heavily on SMUD’s 2030 clean energy goal, we applaud the County’s collaboration with the City and SMUD on building electrification. We continue to push for an explicit prioritization of infill development near transit over sprawl; requirements for water conservation and transition to drought-tolerant landscapes; and a requirement for new development to be carbon neutral. We support Sacramento County’s Climate Emergency Task Force and look forward to its recommendations. We reviewed early draft chapters of the City of Sacramento climate plan and will soon comment on the adaptation chapter.

Measure A

We are glad to report that Measure A, the sales tax initiative sponsored by large-scale housing developers, has been voted down. This initiative sought to fund the Southeast Connector and road expansion projects that would have spurred sprawl development and hindered our region’s ability to curb GHG.  ECOS opposed the measure and thanks the “Measure A Not OK” campaign.

Affordable living

We continue to support Sacramento Investment Without Displacement and its discussions with the City of Sacramento to develop an ordinance for a community benefits agreement (CBA). To stave off displacement effects of new large projects, the ordinance would require rent supports, affordable housing, complete streets, transit, and prioritization of the local workforce for jobs.

Induced travel demand analysis

We settled our suit against Caltrans for widening the CapCity Freeway (Business 80) bridge over the American River. We were concerned about the growth in air pollution, GHG emissions, sprawl development from induced travel, and damage from bridge construction to bat and plant habitats on embankments. The settlement requires Caltrans to analyze, as part of CEQA, the impacts of induced travel demand (per SB743), and to provide additional structures for bat habitat.

Natomas Projects

Our Natomas Team is leading the charge on three projects that would threaten the future of the Natomas Basin Conservancy, habitat, and farming. The Airport South Industrial and two others are proposed for land zoned for agriculture, outside the City, and outside the County’s Urban Service Boundary.

Water and Habitat

ECOS’ Water Committee advocates for a safe and reliable water supply that supports people, rivers and wildlife, recreation and aesthetic values, and agriculture. Our committee, with 40 others, is a member of the Water Forum, where water priorities are negotiated. As part of the Environmental Caucus, our committee developed a statement of principles for the upcoming negotiations of the Water Forum 2.0 agreement. The Water Committee supports a regional approach to ensure supplies of groundwater and surface water are sustainable for both the community and the environment.

ECOS’ Habitat Committee (Habitat 2020) works to protect our land, water, native plants, and wildlife. Our committee commented on the Delta Conveyance Draft Environmental Impact Report, highlighting problems with how the impacts on our region’s terrestrial species were addressed in the analysis. In eastern Sacramento County, we are working on a campaign to relocate the Coyote Creek Solar Voltaic Project so it will not imperil Blue Oak Woodland habitat. In Rancho Cordova, we are working to preserve a key habitat area in the American River flood plain, opposing a proposed housing development there.  We continue to review implementation of the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan, which will conserve more than 40,000 acres.

Partners and members with whom we worked in 2022, in addition to government entities:

350 Sacramento
Breathe CA Sacramento Region
California Mobility Center
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Sacramento
Civic Thread
Civic Well
Cleaner Air Partnership
ClimatePlan
Community Resource Project
Environmental Democrats Sacramento
Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of Swainson’s Hawk
Green Incubator
Impact Foundry
International Dark-Sky Association
Legal Services of Northern California
Mark Berry of Rancho Cordova
Measure A Not OK
Organize Sacramento
Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento
Regional Rail Working Group
Sac Area Congregations Together (SacACT)
SacMoves Coalition
Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates
Sacramento Area Creeks Council
Sacramento Audubon Society
Sacramento Building Healthy Communities
Sacramento Climate Coalition
Sacramento Community Land Trust
Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association
Sacramento Environmental Justice Coalition
Sacramento Housing Alliance
Sacramento Investment Without Displacement
Sacramento Metro Advocates for Rail + Transit
Sacramento Natural Foods Coop
California Native Plant Society, Sacramento
Sacramento Vegetarian Society
Save Our Sandhill Cranes
Save the American River Association
Sierra Club Sacramento
Splash
Sunrise Movement Sacramento
The Water Forum
The Xerces Society
United Latinos
Valley Vision

Sacramento City Climate Adaptation Plan – ECOS Comments on Preliminary Draft

On December 5, 2022, ECOS submitted a letter to the City of Sacramento regarding their Sacramento City Climate Adaptation Plan Preliminary Draft. Below is the content of the letter.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this chapter.

Flooding: The Draft highlights the high flooding risk in Natomas. Proposed developments in the Natomas basin such as South Airport Industrial, Grand Park, and Upper West Side, would increase flooding threat to Natomas because these lands currently are agricultural, and can absorb significant water should flooding occur. In addition to increasing flooding risk in the Natomas Basin, another climate risk associated with these developments is the loss of habitat land and related species (giant garter snake and Swainson’s hawk), which would mean failure of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Therefore, the City should find a mechanism to influence the County’s process of development approvals in these areas. One possibility might be a “Sphere of Influence” application to LAFCo, which has the charge to preserve agricultural land.

Trees: The City of Sacramento has both the Parking Lot Tree Shading Design and Maintenance Guidelines and a tree ordinance. These should be updated to allow for larger shade trees and larger planting areas. We note that Crocker Village has planted “lollypop trees” that don’t provide much shade, and trees on Crocker Drive have insufficient planting radius to allow for mature growth. In contrast, neighboring Curtis Park has tree plantings that shade the entire streets by foliage meeting in the middle. The City should develop programs to guide urban forestry within communities, with a focus on increasing canopy in underserved communities. Tree planting should be required as part of major roadway or utility projects. The City should establish a resource database to help staff select tree species based on maintenance costs, structural integrity, and the most appropriate planting locations.

Water: The City should actively participate in the Sacramento Regional Water Bank, to store water during high precipitation years, for use during droughts. This is especially important with models showing more extremes of precipitation, and much earlier Sierra snow-melts. Because the City relies on a combined sewer system for the older parts of the city, the City needs to budget for upsizing pipes in that water system.

Electrification: The City should move forward rapidly on an ordinance requiring existing building electrification, rather than burning natural gas that accentuates the heat island effect.

Land Use: The City should consider land use as an adaptation; e.g., rezoning around transit for higher density, creating community public spaces and parks.

Structures: The City should consider incentivizing green walls and green roofs that cool buildings and provide food in urban settings, as well as shaded bus shelters, including passive-cooled shelters, such as developed by JCDecaux. The City should develop green building programs that require institutional and commercial buildings to have cool roofs. These strategies can be phased in based on square footage and allow for flexible compliance between cool roofs, green roofs, and rooftop solar PV to help alleviate cost concerns.

Roadways: The City should have code requirements for both new roadways and maintenance activities to ensure that roadways are designed and built at the outset to support heat-resilient paving materials. The City should also require high albedo and permeable pavements for transit stations, centers, and corridors.

Click here to view the letter in PDF.

ECOS MTG/Board – Nov. 29, 6-8 pm

BOARD MEETING 6:00 – 7:15

6:00 – 6:10 Welcome, introductions, minutes, agenda

6:10 – 6:15 Board plan for 2023 – Susan Herre

6:15 – 6:35 Committee updates, plans for 2023

  • Climate — Ralph Propper
  • Habitat — Sean Wirth/Rob Burness
  • Water — Ted Rauh
  • Organizational Development–Nancy Hughett

6:35 – 7:00 Elections – Jon Ellison
7:00 – 7:05 Treasurer’s report – Earl Withycombe
7:05 – 7:10 Recognitions

NATOMAS PROJECTS 7:15 – 8:00 pm
Heather Fargo, Natomas resident, ECOS Board member, and former City mayor, will facilitate a discussion about projects proposed in agriculturally-zoned areas of Natomas: Airport South Industrial, Upper Westside (formerly “The Boot”), and Grand Park (formerly “North Precinct”). These are outside both the City of Sacramento and the County’s Urban Services Boundary. What is the approval process, and what approach will ECOS take to influence this?

Next ECOS MTG/Board – Jan 25 (Wed, not Tues) at 6 pm

LINK to join: ECOS ZOOM 6656164155

or call: 1 669 900 6833, Mtg ID: 665 616 4155

New Building Electrification Ordinance – City Council Meeting Nov 29, 2022

On November 28, 2022, the Environmental Council of Sacramento submitted a comment letter on City Council Meeting Nov 29, 2022 Agenda Item 25: New Building Electrification Ordinance, ID: 2022-01920.

Below is the content of the letter.

ECOS supports the proposed New Building Electrification Ordinance and urges the Council to vote for it.

  • The first phase of this ordinance (for newly constructed buildings that are three stories or less) will take effect on January 1, 2023, and second phase (for newly constructed buildings that are four stories or more) will take effect on January 1, 2026.
  • The New Building Electrification Ordinance will be a local amendment to the 2022 California Building Standards Code.

As SMUD moves toward its 2030 zero-carbon goal, electrification of buildings will increasingly help city residents reduce their carbon footprint. We look forward to working with City staff on the development of a building electrification ordinance for existing buildings.

Click here to view the letter.

Essay: Sacramento voters rejected Measure A’s giveaways and political patronage for a reason

ECOS Board Member Brad Banan wrote the following article published in the Sacramento News and Review on November 18, 2022.

By standard political measures, a proposed Sacramento County transportation tax should have won approval in this month’s election. Supporters had a truckload of campaign cash and the backing of the political establishment, among other things.

They spent more than $4 million on Measure A. Opponents spent less than $7,000.

And yet, just like voters nationwide rejected the narrative of an impending “red wave,” so it appears that local voters bucked conventional wisdom and nixed Measure A. As of Nov. 15, 54 percent of voters were opposed to the measure, leading by a margin of 22,000 votes. The measure would have added a half percent to the county’s sales tax for 40 years, raising it to 9.25 percent in Sacramento.

So why did the transportation tax fail?

Click here to keep reading.