Green City, Part I: Remedial environmentalism is so 20th Century!With two Greens on its City Council, including a former Mayor and current Mayor pro tem, Santa Monica has committed itself to avoiding environmental damage, not just cleaning up after it.
By Kevin McKeown
As you walk along Santa Monica's beachside cliff tops, you might not realize the colorful 130-foot Ferris wheel sparkling below is the world's first to run on solar power. On sunny days, 650 photovoltaic panels keep the wheel spinning, and visitors smiling, without a single volt of fossil fuel electricity.
That attractive, artsy building next to the Pier? Santa Monica's pioneering urban runoff recycling facility gurgles happily as it catches the number one source of pollution affecting Santa Monica Bay. It converts an average 500,000 gallons a day of runoff into "gray water," used throughout Santa Monica for irrigation. In the new Civic Center, buildings will be "double-piped" so reclaimed water can be used to flush, saving fresh potable water.
Green elected officials and appointed Green board and commission members have been key to developing and implementing Santa Monica's policy of proactive stewardship of our urban ecosystem.
When lights come on at City Hall or any other municipal facility, not only do efficient fixtures conserve, but the electricity itself is 100 percent from renewable resources. That cute green downtown hotel-and-shops shuttle is zero-emission electric, and the fabled Big Blue Bus transit fleet is fast moving to clean-burning compressed natural gas.
Residents have pitched in as well. With commingled recycling, households needn't separate glass, paper and cans. The new system was an instant hit, with residential recycling up 11 percent.
Santa Monica's pioneering efforts have made the city an acknowledged international leader and role model for municipal sustainability. Even after meeting or exceeding many of our initial targets, however, Greens realize we have more challenges ahead, as we work to make Santa Monica a truly sustainable city.
In the next issue of Green Focus, Kevin McKeown, Mayor pro tem of Santa Monica, will look to the future. See also the Sustainable City Plan online at http://pen.ci.santa-monica.ca.us/environment/policy/SCP2003.pdf.
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