Santa Monica has released its fourth annual Sustainable City Report Card.
Fourteen years ago, Santa Monica adopted the Sustainable City Plan (SCP), a challenging set of goals to ensure the long-term sustainability of the local economy, environment and quality of life.
According to city officials, Santa Monica’s sustainability efforts were among the first of their kind in the nation and have served as a model for a growing number of cities, academic institutions and businesses.
The city’s eight sustainability goal areas are resource conservsation, environmental and public health, transportation, economic development, open space and land use, housing, community education and civic participation, and human dignity.
As a way to track the city’s progress in meeting these goals — and guide future actions — the city uses two tools, the Progress Report and the Report Card.
The Progress Report is a regularly updated online database that provides a comprehensive evaluation of the community’s progress toward these goals.
The Report Card, released once a year, summarizes the data in easy-to-understand grades.
This year, the city received the same grades it received last year except in housing, where it improved from a D to a C.
The city received an A- in open space and land use, and community education and civil participation; a B in economic development; a B- in human dignity; a C+ in resource conservation and transportation; and a C in environmental and public health.
The city received at least an A- in all areas for its effort.
“The Report Card shows that we are making progress toward becoming a sustainable city,” said Dean Kubani, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “We are seeing that many local businesses, institutions, elected officials and city staff now use the term ‘sustainability’ to describe their mission.
“However, if we are to achieve our goals, we must all become more involved in the process.”
There were several notable successes in almost every sustainability goal area over the past year, said Shannon Parry, the sustainable city coordinator.
Some of these successes include:
— The mixed-use Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The 882-space structure includes 9,000 square feet of commercial retail space and a solar photovoltaic roof canopy that generates 181 kilowatts of solar electricity.
— Solar capacity in the city has doubled since the launch of Solar Santa Monica. To date, there are 139 grid-connected solar projects in the city, representing 926 kilowatts of solar capacity.
— The Santa Monica Urban Runoff and Recycling Facility (SMURRF) captured and treated more than 33 million gallons of water for reuse in irrigation and toilet flushing.
— A pilot transportation collaboration between Big Blue Bus (the city bus company) and Santa Monica College eliminated 1.6 million car trips in the first year, thus reducing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.
— The size of the community forest grew two percent this year.
— The city added 118 units of affordable housing last year and 389 more affordable housing units are in the process of being developed.
Noted Parry, “The success highlighted in the Report Card shows that Santa Monica is actively addressing the challenges to becoming a sustainable city.”