A Note From Our Treasurer: ECOS Needs Your Support

January 11, 2019

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I want to highlight some of the Environmental Council of Sacramento’s (ECOS) accomplishments last year, inform you about our plans for the New Year, and ask for your continued financial support—because ECOS would not exist without support from local environmental stewards like you.
We need your support. Please consider becoming a member – better yet with a recurring monthly donation of ten or twenty bucks a month (less than the price of going out to dinner!). You can become a dues-paying member and support our community by clicking here: https://www.ecosacramento.net/membership-account/membership/.

We accomplished a lot in 2018:
· ECOS wins lawsuit securing light rail funding. ECOS secured $40.5 million for the Sacramento Regional Transit Light Rail system by settling our lawsuit challenging the Caltrans Environmental Impact Report for the Capital City Freeway Improvement Project. This money will be used to complete double tracking to Folsom, purchase low floor train cars, and resume evening service on the Gold Line.
· ECOS organizes 29th annual Earth Day. On April 22, 2018, ECOS hosted Sacramento’s annual Earth Day celebration in Southside Park—the largest annual environmental event in Sacramento County. This event now draws over 3,000 visitors to live music, 150 nonprofit and crafts vendor booths, and the largest electric vehicle display and test-drive event in the Sacramento region. Thanks to our partners the Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association and Charge Across Town, some 40 different electric vehicle models were displayed by owners and several hundred test-drives were conducted by regional EV dealers.
· ECOS advocates for underserved communities. In 2018, ECOS advocated for environmental protection in green spaces occupied by Sacramento’s growing homeless population and for expanded homeless services and transitional housing. In addition, ECOS established an Environmental Justice Committee within our organization to identify the priorities of underserved communities and help build networks in support of our mutual environmental interests, including the expansion of public transit, affordable infill housing, and living wages.
· Housing, housing, housing. With the economy continuing to improve, land use projects of increasing size and adverse environmental impact were proposed in Sacramento County last year. If the region does not accommodate the new urban housing market, sprawl will continue, threatening whatever habitat, agriculture and open space is left. So we have also paid a great deal of attention to the intensification of urban development in the region’s cities (Elk Grove, Roseville, Sacramento, Galt, Citrus Heights, West Sacramento, etc.) where the new urban housing market could be focused.

In 2019, ECOS will focus on future transportation funding options, Phase 2 hearings on the California WaterFix, local electric vehicle roll-out, environmental justice group empowerment, and local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act next year. You can support our work by becoming a member: https://www.ecosacramento.net/membership-account/membership/.

As you know, we are a small, local organization that operates on a shoestring budget and depends on the financial support of community members like you. ECOS does a lot with a little: we have an annual budget of just thousands of dollars; with more members and an expanded budget, we can serve the community better. We know you receive requests from many organizations and hope our decades of dedicated community service and proven success earn us a spot on your list. As always, we would be extremely grateful for your support.

Happy New Year!

Best Regards,

Earl Withycombe, ECOS Treasurer

P.S. There are many ways to support ECOS. Beyond your annual donation we encourage you to become a monthly sustainer, which give us the financial stability to do more. You can do this by visiting our website (https://www.ecosacramento.net/), and then clicking on “Donate” under “Support ECOS”. We also welcome volunteers for every aspect of our work – you’ll have fun and learn skills as you help our environment. Contact us at office [at] ecosacramento [dot] net.

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Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects

On October 3, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) sent the following letter to the California Department of Transportation regarding the Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects.

Dear Director Benipal:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) is concerned that planned freeway expansions in the Sacramento region will induce major increases in vehicle volumes, contravening the spirit and intent of state legislation such as SB 375. We are most concerned about the CapCity (SR 51) expansion (including possible widening of the American River bridge), and also concerned about the planned I-5 HOV lanes between Sacramento and Elk Grove, and the proposed widening of I-80 between Sacramento and Davis.

We appreciate the CapCity project team’s continued engagement with ECOS and its willingness to discuss the project’s progression. However, ECOS would like to expand this conversation into a broader discussion about regional transportation challenges and priorities. We are willing to work with Caltrans staff to coordinate discussions with other regional agencies and stakeholders with the aim of considering potential alternatives to address these challenges.

Following are some reasons why this conversation is timely: CARB’s greenhouse gas scoping plan shows that we must reduce VMT by 15% to meet 2050 goals for GHG emissions. Guidelines for SB 743 specify that the principal criterion in evaluating transportation projects is now VMT reduction, as opposed to congestion relief. Based on these Guidelines, Caltrans will need to consider induced travel demand from future expansion projects, such as caused by land use impacts. The Sacramento Transportation Authority is planning a tax measure for the 2020 ballot. SACOG is developing its draft preferred scenario the 2020 MTP/SCS. Finally, the fate of SB 1 hinges on the outcome of Proposition 6 in November.

The proposed CapCity expansion is emblematic of multiple other prospective projects in the region, and raises questions about historic approaches to longstanding problems as well as approaches to future challenges the region faces. We acknowledge that the challenges involved are significant, and that a rethinking of potential solutions also has great hurdles. We believe that the convergence of challenges and opportunities we face warrants an exploration of additional tools to increase travel-mode options, support infill housing and economic needs, and reduce VMT with increased transit operations and emerging strategies such as congestion pricing and shared mobility.

We would all benefit from a broadly based conversation regarding alternative solutions for regional mobility before major public funds are committed to significant increases in highway capacity. We hope that you will consider cooperating in such a discussion with ECOS, and we are sharing this letter with other organizations and government bodies that we hope to include in this conversation as well. We look forward to discussing possible meeting times and locations.

Sincerely,

Ralph Propper
ECOS President

Click here to read the full letter in PDF.

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Elk Grove General Plan

On September 26, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento submitted a comment letter on the Elk Grove General Plan.

Summary

Following ECOS and Habitat 2020s’ opposition to the recently adopted Kamerrer-99 Sphere of Influence Expansion, ECOS and Habitat 2020 are primarily concerned with the “study areas” for further expansion proposed in this General Plan Update. Elk Grove’s anticipated growth can be accommodated within the existing City limits, and we find no justification for expansion beyond the Sacramento County Urban Services Boundary (USB) established in 1993 to be the ultimate growth boundary within the County. The proposal is inconsistent with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ (SACOG) Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) for meeting State mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, Federal mandates for Air Quality Attainment under the State Improvement Plan (SIP), as well as myriad regional goals for social equity, public health and natural resource conservation. There is an extreme lack of certainty that municipal water can be provided to this area without severe regional impacts, and the impacts to invaluable agricultural and biological resources by the proposal are potentially impossible to mitigate.

The justification given for study of further expansion is the need for Elk Grove to correct its job’s housing balance. This is a goal that ECOS agrees with, but, again, the housing and employment that Elk Grove anticipates to achieve from existing planning areas within the current City boundaries already far exceed that of SACOG’S projections for Elk Grove by 2040. If Elk Grove were to achieve these housing and employment projections in the SOIA as well, it would certainly have impacts on housing and employment in neighboring jurisdictions in the region.

While these proposed expansion areas are only “study areas,” it is irresponsible of the City to signal intent for growth that is so divergent from the regional plan, and where the cumulative impacts to the region would be so great.

Click here to read the full letter in PDF.

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