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Santa Monica Gets Good Grades in Sustainability  

By Lookout Staff

September 21, 2010 -- Santa Monica continued to make the grade when it comes to being an environmentally friendly city, according to the 2010 Sustainable City Report Card released Tuesday.

The report card highlights improvements in almost every sustainability goal set by the Sustainable City Plan (SCP) adopted 16 years ago to gauge its efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of Santa Monica's local economy, environment and quality of life.

"The Report Card shows that we are making progress toward becoming a sustainable city," said Dean Kubani, the director of the City's Office of Sustainability and the Environment. "It also identifies the challenges that we face in truly realizing our vision for a sustainable community."

According to the report card, water demand dropped in all seasons for the past three years, while solar capacity has more than tripled since the launch of Solar Santa Monica, with 183 grid-connected solar projects in the city generating more than 1.4 megawatts of solar electricity.

When it comes to transportation, carpools became more popular, with the average vehicle ridership increasing from 1.59 last year to 1.64 this year, exceeding the City's target.

Meanwhile, bike lanes on city streets increased by 11 percent and the number of people riding bikes to work increased 13 percent. The bike valet program also parked more than 25,000 bikes for free at community events around the city this year.

The local economy also make strides, with more than 200 businesses joining the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign and 21 businesses recognized for their "exceptional commitment to sustainable practices through the Green Business Certification Program and the Sustainable Quality Awards."

"The successes highlighted in the Report Card show that Santa Monica is actively addressing the challenges to becoming a sustainable city," said Shannon Parry, Santa Monica's Sustainable City Program coordinator. "Each year we are planting the seeds of change that will ripen into a more sustainable community for current and future generations."

Santa Monica was one of the first cities in the nation to implement sustainability efforts, serving as a model for a growing number of cities, academic institutions and businesses.

The report card also showed improvements in the following categories:

? Sales are up 4 percent at four farmers markets that provide fresh, locally grown and organic produce to nearly a million visitors each year.

? The city keeps nearly 1,000 gallons of triclosan-containing soap out of the community and the marine environment annually by not purchasing antimicrobial hand soap.

? The combined size of the community forest grew 2 percent this year.

? The city added 248 units of affordable housing in 2008, nearly 50% of the total new units completed. An additional 290 affordable housing units were completed in 2009.

? More than 4,000 people and 60 community groups took an active role in shaping the future of Santa Monica by participating in the update of the Land Use and Circulation Elements.

? An additional 820 people began integrating sustainable practices in the urban environment by participating in the Sustainable Works Community Greening Program bringing the total participants to more than 5,000.

? The number of homeless people in Santa Monica dropped 8 percent between 2007 and 2009, while the number provided services rose 7 percent.

? Violent Crime dropped to its lowest level since 2003, with gang crime in 2009 down by two-thirds of its 2006 high.

"If we are to meet the aggressive goals set forth in the Sustainable City Plan, all members of the community need to be educated, involved and committed to our collective success," Kubani said.

The events slated for the coming days are intended to inform and involve the Santa Monica community in all things sustainable.

Visit: www.sustainablesm.org, key word sustainability, for additional information.

 


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