What We Do

End-of-Year Letter

December 2022

As we approach the holidays, we will remember Mother Earth, and give thanks for her beauty and stability. We will reflect upon global and national efforts to fight climate change, and we will 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 will be even more effective in our advocacy, and will persuade our elected leaders to take the bold steps necessary to reduce GHG emissions fast. To do this, we need your help. Please join us in 2023 and share your time and talents.

Report on Activities in 2022

Climate Action Plans (CAP)

Over the past two years, our advocacy resulted in improvements to Sacramento County’s Climate Action Plan, 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 supports a regional approach to ensure supplies of groundwater and surface water are sustainable for both the community and the environment. It 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. For the Water Forum 2.0 agreement, as part of the Environmental Caucus, our committee developed a statement of principles for the upcoming negotiations of priorities.

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.

ECOS Overview

ECOS has been a powerful advocacy organization in the Sacramento region, working for over fifty years to curb sprawl and protect open space and habitat; and promote transit, walking, and biking. However, with the climate crisis escalating, we need to be even more effective in our advocacy. We need to persuade our local and regional leaders to take bold, difficult, and even unpopular steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We need to make sure the public understands the consequence of poor land use decisions, and who is responsible; how wasteful land use planning and rising greenhouse gas emissions go hand-in-hand. We need to explain the “tipping point” in the climate crisis; and how important it is for the public to elect representatives who will act with urgency.

Regional planning structures such as the Urban Services Boundary and the Natomas Basin and South Sacramento habitat conservation plans must remain intact. We need to collaborate with landowners on land conservation before development decisions are made.

We need to be more energetic in fund-raising to make ECOS’ and our partner organizations’ positions heard, and to support our office and staff. We also need funds to litigate when greenhouse gas emission reductions are not credible, verifiable, or happening fast enough either on plans or in reality; and when jurisdictions’ policies and procedures make sprawl inevitable.

ECOS re-organized at the start of 2022 to reflect the increased importance of climate change, and the need to better coordinate our work on transportation and land use, green building and environmental justice; to better prioritize action and strategize effective methods both internally and with our partners; and to focus on water-related climate change impacts such as drought, reduced snow pack, and flooding risk. We hope these changes will strengthen ECOS, create a more synergistic approach to our work, and attract a new generation of enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated people – who are frustrated with the status quo, rightfully fearful about our future, and ready to get to work.