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A city council do-over vote translates to a vote for a climate action study

Mike Turgeon, on behalf of the Friends of the Santa Rosa Climate Action Plan
Mike Turgeon, on behalf of the Friends of the Santa Rosa Climate Action Plan

by Mike Turgeon, Climate Action Fellow, The Climate Center

Not often in politics do the people get a do-over vote. That is precisely what occurred on Tuesday, May 15, at the Santa Rosa City Council meeting.

The topic of the vote was whether the City would hold a study session on an “all-electric ready“ building ordinance as well as on the status report of its 6-year old Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP is the City’s guide toward a climate friendly, sustainable future. If ever that is necessary, it is now as we rise from the ashes of our horrific firestorms.

The CAP was developed and approved in 2012 when Santa Rosa was known for taking action on the climate crisis. For a variety of reasons, the CAP has been largely ignored. For example, the staff CAP implementation team meets only quarterly, does not meet in public, has not met since the fires, and provides reports to the City Council only annually.

A nascent group, Friends of the Climate Action Plan, was formed to support the City in taking climate action. As part of this, the group asked the Santa Rosa City Council on May 15 for a study session on the possibility of requiring all new construction to be “all-electric ready” as well as an update on the progress on the City’s Climate Action Plan.

The first vote of the Council on the study session was taken with one member, Chris Rogers, absent for a few minutes. The vote was 3 to 3, so the motion didn’t pass. However, at the end of the Council session, Chris Rogers asked if another vote could be taken since he was not present for the first one. The city attorney affirmed that a second vote could be taken, an unusual turn of events. The second vote was 4 in favor and 3 opposed, and the motion to set a study session for these two items carried.

It has been a pleasure to interact with our policymakers and find that we have a dedicated, caring Council who are clearly striving to make Santa Rosa into a vibrant, resilient city not just for those of us here now but for future residents and the environment in which we live.