October 6, 2016 – Voice of San Diego – Maya Srikrishnan reports: Several proposed developments are complicating San Diego County’s attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The county is currently rewriting its Climate Action Plan – the document that spells out how it plans to curb emissions – following a lawsuit from the Sierra Club. A judge declared the county’s plan needed legally enforceable emissions reductions – meaning people should be able to sue the county if it doesn’t make good on its reduction promises.
The county already has what’s called a general plan, a blueprint that spells out where and how building can take place. The county’s general plan says new development should happen near existing development and transit, to avoid sprawl and discourage driving. The Climate Action Plan is a separate, complementary document that shows how the county plans to reduce emissions through various methods, including development, transit, renewable energy, water and agriculture.
But developers are seeking special permission from the county to build several projects that don’t conform with the general plan. Environmentalists are concerned the projects would make it impossible for the county to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets the state says it needs to meet by 2030.
“The more cynical view is they’re trying to get through these development permits before the Climate Action Plan is in place,” said Nicole Capretz, head of the Climate Action Campaign, referring to the developers seeking special permission to move forward with their projects.
Transportation is the county’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly half – 47 percent – of the county’s emissions come from vehicles.
And since many of the big, pending projects aren’t along existing transportation corridors, and current transportation blueprints for the region don’t plan infrastructure near them, it’s likely the new housing developments would account for even more greenhouse gas emissions.
“At the end of the day the Climate Action Plan is a math equation,” Capretz said. “And if they’re not tackling their single biggest source, there’s no other measure that will make up for it. The numbers aren’t going to add up.”