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PA council approves 'Climate Protection Plan'

Original post made on Dec 4, 2007

Rejecting a proposal by Vice Mayor Larry Klein to set an even higher goal, the Palo Alto City Council voted Monday night to slash the community's greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 4, 2007, 2:24 AM

Comments (25)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 8:32 am

Until we get serious about public transport, there will be no serious reduction. And, why will paying a commute co-ordinator overtime help?

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2007 at 8:42 am

Time again to forfeit the charter and become a Municipal Service District with defined areas of authority. They can't hack unlimited assumed power.

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Posted by J Muir
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 4, 2007 at 10:00 am

Resident is absolutely correct. I wasn't able to view the proceedings last evening. Was there even one mention of public transport? Commuting coordinator efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to what well-coordinated mass transit can make.

I laud the Council for setting these goals, but what concerns me is that there seems no large leadership on the issue of our environment. It's one thing to mandate goals that *others* have to achieve (our policy makers have the power to force changes in city operations that push the *real* change onto the workers at City Hall).

I'm trying very hard not to be cynical in this post, hoping that we can see some votes that make a LARGE difference in environmental emissions - on issues like housing, and initiatives to lead our Valley in a mass transport renewal.

A word about negative growth: Japan is experiencing the beginning of that scenario right now; it's not going to be pretty. This is, of course, complicated by Japan's refusal to admit foreign domestic workers (thus the robot craze, in Japan - whose entire purpose is a race to develop robots that will care for and socialize with the elderly, when the real negative growth numbers are fully realized.

We have to be careful about playing with population growth numbers. Remember, we humans are a *part* of the environment. Messing with part of the environment will necessarily have an impact on the whole - often in ways that are not understood until it's too late.

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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2007 at 10:34 am

It was remarkable to watch all of the council members laud themselves as "leaders" in the CO2 emmission reduction effort. Yet not one of them even mentioned nuclear power. This tells me that they are are not serious.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2007 at 11:19 am

The glibness with which the council plays games with our life styles and makes decisions that will inevitably reduce our standard of living is reminiscent of the "You have to break eggs to make an omelette" disdain of revolutionaries everywhere.

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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 4, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Get ready for the January meeting when the 4 council members leave--the remaining members will be falling over themselves showering the departing 4 with praise and accolades. this despite the council's deplorable record on dealing with REAL problems facing the city.(I guess when dealing with the real issues you do not get the warm fuzzies like you do when dealing with climate change/environment)
this will be followed by the election of a new mayor--our old school council member Larry Klein--the 8 remaining members will be showering him with praise also.
Then in February we will have the mayor's state of the city address, in which the new mayor will put on the obligatory rose-colored glasses and tell us all how well the city is doing.

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Posted by Is-CO2-Really-A-Problem?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 12:50 pm

I wonder how many of the city council voting on this measure used public transportation, or a bicycle, to get to/from council chambers last night?

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Public transport really is the solution, but I do feel that the question of who will use it is a viable one. For many of us, we will continue to use our cars to get to the many destinations we have to get to on an occasional basis, the dentists appointments, meeting friends for dinner, etc. But, what we should be aiming for is the routine types of commutes that happen all the time in our lives. A habitual journey, particularly done during the busy times of day, are the ones that can be adjusted to public transport or even bike or walking. A weekly trip to the library, or community center, a part time or regular job, can become car free with a little planning beforehand and the routine will be made. Additionally, getting the kids to and from school and other habitual activities, can be done by alternative methods and these are the ones that should be aimed at.

No one wants to give up our car, and we should not have to. But, the changes in lifestyle that make our cars an additional mode of transport rather than the primary one will make the big difference. Teaching this lesson to our kids is one that they will take on with them in life, the ability to know how to use a bus, look up a schedule, etc. are life skills and a tad of independence now will be a morale booster too.

If the City really wants to do something to achieve its goals, then working with the citizens and providing more of a service rather than legislation is the way to go.

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Posted by PA without Kids
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Councilman Peter Drekmeier, a noted environmentalist, supported the higher goals and called for negative population growth as well.

"It's controversial in a lot of ways, but unless we start talking about it we're in serious trouble," Drekmeier said.

So Peter thinks it's a bad idea for us to have kids? Well I guess those pesky kids won't be making noise when the greenies want to visit the Baylands or Foothills Park.

And no need to spend any money developing the deplorable state of the city's recreational facilities.

And we won't need to update the libraries once we've eliminated all those brats who go there after school.

And the PAUSD can look forward to declining enrollment so it won't need to open new schools.

Ah - heaven - a world without children. Thanks Peter. At least you, Dena and Bern have had the good sense not to clutter up Palo Alto with those half pints!

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 4, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Drekmeier is absolutely correct about population control, and I congratulate him on his courageous position. But I hope it isn't deja vu again.

Once upon a time a local author wrote a book called "The Population Bomb." It had an initial impact, sparking an environmental revival and the Zero Population Growth movement. Then that Last Fad (anyone else recall that phrase?) duly faded. We learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Our fecundity party began.

But the fact remains: limited resources cannot support an unlimited consumer base. Our water supply is running low even now, and this is only a minor drought.

Thanks and good luck, Peter.

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Posted by Whiskey
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Exactly how many members of the community are on board with this? Talking about population growth in terms of actual resources like water is smart and necessary. Talking about reducing CO2 emissions is pointless. Other than making people feel warm and fuzzy, it won't matter in the larger scheme of things. How about using some of those big brains at Stanford to come up with real solutions that can work if indeed humans are causing the climate to change (and to be fair, I'm sure some of those brains are working on that.)
I'm wondering why the city council isn't trying to achieve real goals that matter like less crime. Here's a goal for you, if you want to make yourself feel warm and fuzzy and actually have a real impact on the world, why don't we commit to helping every kid in EPA graduate from high school?
Reducing CO2 emmissions is a nice way to look contemporarily "green" and "hip," but lets face it - thats all it is. Would you like to talk about carbon offsets? Here's an inconvenient truth: everywhere you force people or companies to curb emissions, they, or someone else will just produce more in another area.
How is that war on drugs working out?

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Posted by Greg
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 4, 2007 at 6:02 pm

The only proven way to reduce birth rates is to encourage development. Dudley Kirk was right; Paul Ehrlich was wrong. Julian Simon completely destroyed Ehrlich's argument to resource limitations.

There is an enormous resource base on this planet. The key to population stability is to exploit these resources, especially nuclear power. World population will begin to decline, once middle class people are convinced that they will still have grandchildren, and have a reasonable retirement, even if they have only two kids per family.

The current trend of the PA City Council is completely off base. It presupposes that free people will agree to become slaves in order to reduce CO2 emissions, and otherwise save the planet.

Palo Alto claims to have real leadership, but it does not. Its leaders lack vision. That charade last night was pathetic.

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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 4, 2007 at 6:14 pm

I havn't been following this particular issue close enough to know if is primairly dealing with the 60,000 commuters who come to Palo Alto every day (almost every day) that burn millions of gallons of gasoline every week. These are the major source of CO2. What is Palo Alto going to do about these commuters.

If the issue isn't this Palo Alto will become known as the biggest polluter or CO2 generator in the bay area.

People who work on Stanford owned lands shoul live on Stanford owned land is one solution. Moving the airport to Moffett field would free up 100 acres for housing also.

Commuter busses for people who live in the central valley could carry thousands of commuters. Hi parcel taxes on parking spaces could discourage driving cars to the large employers in the city. ($10/day /per parking space. )

Also phase out office/commercial buildings that don't really pay taxes to the city to cover their costs to the city should be considered.

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Posted by No-Government-Controls
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 6:50 pm

> Once upon a time a local author wrote a
> book called "The Population Bomb.

Web Link

The Population Bomb (1968) is a book written by Paul R. Ehrlich. A best-selling work, it predicted disaster for humanity due to overpopulation and the "population explosion". The book predicted that "in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death", that nothing can be done to avoid mass famine greater than any in the history, and radical action is needed to limit the overpopulation.

Well .. the "local resident" was wrong, so very wrong. Anyone outside of academia would have been ignored for being this far off the mark. But this guy is still on campus, still hawking these same ideas.

There is no excuse for a local city council member to be discussing population control at a global level. Wonder if this autocrat supports government mandated family size limits, as the Communists have done in China?

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Posted by Is-CO2-Really-A-Problem?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 7:16 pm

> Hi parcel taxes on parking spaces could
> discourage driving cars to the large employers
> in the city. ($10/day /per parking space. )

Employers could help out by moving these jobs out of Palo Alto, perhaps to India or China.

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Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 4, 2007 at 9:01 pm

We should be encouraging companies to let their employees work from home 1 or more days a week. People can teleconference into meetings. People who work from home can actually get more work done. Technology is so advanced now that the idea of groups of people commuting to one building or set of buildings just to do work that they can do from home should hopefully become a thing of the past. While this idea won't work for every type of job, it can go a long way to solving lots of problems.

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Posted by Louise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Contrary to J Muir's assumption, there _was_ discussion of alternative transport at Monday night's meeting, though it was not the main focus for the council members. And at least one council member did get two and from the meeting on her bike (Dena Mossar), probably Yoriko did too.

Some of the most heartfelt public testimony came from a resident who described how long it takes him to get from place to place by bus.

More importantly, J Muir and other green types would be well advised to take a look at the m actions proposed in the the Transportation chapter in the Climate Protection Plan that the Council approved on Monday. See pages 43-59 of the CPP document here:
Web Link
And the CPP model of sources of greenhouse gasses in our community does make it clear (to those not yet aware) that motor vehicle emissions are a major contribution to the total CO2 equivalent produced each year.

There's also a more concrete and immediate transit issue that could benefit from informed environmental advocacy. Next week's Planning Commission meeting and the City Council meeting on 12/17 will focus on options resulting from the Community Bus Study that was the result of a lot of energy protesting the VTA's cuts to Route 88 due to low ridership.

Support at these meetings for real transit and for better coordination between VTA, City shuttle and Stanford shuttle service would be much more likely to produce a positive result than taking potshots on this forum. But to do this you need to read and comment on the staff report, not the superficial news stories.

The staff report comes out the Friday before the Planning Commission meeting. You can get hard copies in the City Council chambers or ask the nearest city librarian where to find the Planning Commission packet. It should also be available on line under "Agendas, Minutes and Reports" on the front page of the City website:
Web Link

Why not get involved in a constructive way in moving this city toward the "well coordinated mass transit" future that you are hoping for?

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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2007 at 6:16 am

Thank you, Louise, for your well-informed remarks. It is refreshing to see someone posting here who actually attended the meeting and read the report.

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Posted by Breht Napoli
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 5, 2007 at 3:54 pm

(sorry, hit wrong key and sent)

People who use these machines or hire others at slave wages to use them, should be required to absorb the additional labor costs to have the "gardening," done with hand tools.

The City Ordinance of July 1, 2006 banning gas-powered leaf blowers is largely ignored and not enforced. Electric leaf blowers offer very little, if any improvement over gas-powered blowers: they consume MORE energy, not less, produce a high-pitch wine and disperse as much particular matter into the air, or more. Nor does the leaf-blower ban account for the energy consumed and the pollution produced by the other machines: mowers, trimmers, hedgers, clippers, and the fleet of run-down and, in many cases, the over-25-years old pollution-control-exempted trucks the operators of these tools drive into and out of our city every day.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2007 at 1:27 am

I grieve that so many locals willingly consider denying freedom of movement and choice to others.

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Posted by Green-Is-The-New-Red
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2007 at 9:20 am

> I grieve that so many locals willingly consider
> denying freedom of movement and choice to others

And you ain't seen nottin' yet buddy .. wait till they really get going.

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Posted by Responsible Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2007 at 1:30 pm

I'm coming into this discussion late, but I want to whole-heartedly echo Peter Drekmeier's views that we need to start looking at our population growth. I wasn't at the City Council meeting, but I see nothing indicating that Peter (or anyone) used the word control. It has to happen as a matter of personal responsibility. It's simply irresponsible to have a large family these days, unless the children are adopted.

Our current population is not sustainable. One of the best things any one of us can do for the environment is have fewer kids. If two people have one biological child, ultimately that leads to zero population growth.

There are plenty of wonderful, beautiful children out there waiting to be adopted, if parents really want that large family.

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Posted by Is-65-Old-Enough?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 5:51 pm

> Our current population is not sustainable.

Other possibilities include forced termination of life at, say, 65 years.

Any thoughts about that?

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Posted by James
a resident of Monroe Park
on Dec 13, 2007 at 7:22 pm


That makes more sense. Old people add disproportional costs to our medical system. They are also too feeble to fight or work vigoroulsy in our high tech, hard driving world.

Since I am over 65 (barely, though!), I will consider signing up for the green self-sacrifice list. Imagine the carbon I will save?!

How old is Drekmeier?. Ya think he has signed up for the list yet? One must be prepared.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)

on Jun 5, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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