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May Deadline For The Scottsdale Sustainability Plan Comments Off on May Deadline For The Scottsdale Sustainability Plan

Scottsdale’s Community Sustainability plan could be put into action as early as May.

The city council heard proposals for the finishing touches of the plan during its March 19 meeting from Scottsdale Sustainability Director Lisa McNeilly while also giving feed back on what the final pieces of the document should say.

“I feel like I’ve received clear direction on the rest of the plan here tonight,” McNeilly said.

Mayor David Ortega called for the plan to be finalized and ready to vote on before the council goes on summer break in May.

“It’s my feeling we’ve covered everything pretty completely,” he said.

Councilmember Barry Graham was the lone vote against that timeline.

“There are some things that are outside of our control,” he said. “There are some things we don’t know. We have multiple studies, we’ve got a solar study, we’ve got a shade study, so it would be nice to have more information than to rush it to a selected date.”

He also raised concern that one of the plan’s goals calls for a 90% reduction in refuse to the landfill by either 2040 or 2050 — most council members preferred the earlier number though Graham did not — which could result in an increase in the city’s solid waste collection rates.

“It was mentioned just a second ago about the retiree who couldn’t afford their (electric) bills, and in the same meeting we’re talking about raising your utility bills,” he said.

The plan was a success with the rest of the council though.
Councilmember Tom Durham acknowledged the plan is based on a lot of assumptions and unknowns but add “but we’ve got to do something.”

Councilmember Betty Janik pointed out the plan does not include any mandates on citizens or caps on things like electricity or water use.

“I hope the citizens embrace this,” she said. “We’re not forcing it on them. We’re asking them to give it a try to make Scottsdale a better city, a cooler city. As a scientist I truly believe we can do it and will do it.”

McNeilly’s presentation focused on three areas of the plan: energy, waste and extreme heat. The other two areas of the plan, water and air quality, were presented to council last November.

McNeilly offered possible goals for each topic with one recommendation coming from city staff and another from the Scottsdale Environmental Advisory Commission.

For instance, one of the city staff’s recommendations was to increase tree and shrub canopy to 15% by 2040 while the commission’s recommendation was to increase tree and shrub canopy to 20% by 2030 and 25% by 2040.

When given the options, the council members almost always expressed their support for the more aggressive choice championed by the commission.

“I think a more aggressive target, I’d support that,” Vice Mayor Solange Whitehead said. “I’m not going to not support the plan if the rest of my colleagues want to stick with 15%, but we know this is something that works. … It’s something that does unite this community, and there’s no punishment for not making it, but we’ve seen a lot of excuses for trees coming down in this town, and I’d like to see targets that encourage people not to bring down the trees.”

But Councilmember Tammy Caputi warned her colleagues not to get too caught up in the numbers.

“This is an aspirational plan … there are no mandates,” Caputi said. “These are recommendations, and we’re trying to take a leadership position to make sustainability something important to the city, and we’re saying that we’re going to start going through and talking about 20%, 25%, 15%, 10%? I mean these are aspirational goals. We’re not putting on burdensome regulations or mandates. We’re simply making requests that people step up and kind of do the right thing.”

Councilmember Kathy Littlefield felt city staff and the commission were ultimately shooting for the same target.

“It seems to me, by and large, you guys are walking down the same path, and you’re going for the same goal, the same end,” she said. “You may have different dates, you may have something over here thats different than this tweak over here, but we’re talking years here, people. We’re not talking about what we want to do in two weeks. ”

Original article can be found here.

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