ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Design Review Committee voted to move future climate action planning meetings from the DRC to the Atascadero Planning Comission instead, so it could be televised.
The decision came after a presentation by a Rincon regarding how the company will solicit the input of Atascadero’s citizenry as regards conforming with two California laws requiring that cities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
While members of the DRC and Atascadero City Council have repeatedly stated that they feel Atascadero is not part of the problem a climate action plan solves, the council voted in March to participate in a grant with other San Luis Obispo County cities. Those cities are Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and Paso Robles.
The $400,000 grant is paying for a consultant with the participating agencies’ staff to build a plan and the means to execute the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
By participating in the Central Coast Greenhouse Gas Planning Overview, Atascadero is saving about $100,000 in consultation fees.
At the DRC meeting on Thursday, Kendall Flynt, who represents Rincon as its public outreach coordinator for the project, guided the DRC members through a presentation outlining how she will solicit the input of the community.
“My role is to ensure that anybody who wants to participate will have their voice heard,” Flynt said.
She stressed that both she and Rincon understand that no two cities or communities can or will use identical solutions to reduce greenhouse emissions, and that each one must be treated as its own city or community.
With that in mind, she said, she has begun meeting with Atascadero groups such as the board of realtors and chamber of commerce, with plans to meet with more in the near future.
“In addition we are obviously working with county-wide groups such as the building association to bring them to the table,” she said. “This is an ongoing process to ensure that all the viewpoints are represented. Even the viewpoints that are different or opposite. Not everyone is on the same page on this issue and we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity … to express themselves.”
Flynt went on to say that over the course of the project, there will be four free and open-to-the-public workshops. The first will be at Cuesta College on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Associated Student Center Auditorium, Room 5401. Parking in lot 2 will be free for the event. The other three have yet to be scheduled.
The workshops, she said, will explain to attendees what climate action planning is and then allow participants to express ideas and concerns.
“We’re structuring all of our workshops to be more engaging and less endless PowerPoint,” Flynt said and added that all the workshop information will be made available online.
In addition to the workshops, the organization has set up a website — www.CentralCoastGHGPlanning.com — and Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts, all in an effort of getting information out to the public and soliciting the public’s input.
Further, she said that the organization will have booths set up at various Central Coast farmers’ markets.
DRC chairwoman Roberta Fonzi was concerned that Flynt might not understand how different Atascadero’s citizens are from any other community.
“We’re not cookie-cutter-type people, we question everything,” Fonzi said. “It will probably be harder for you in Atascadero than in other cities because of the type of people we are. … I would encourage you to come at it in a different way than perhaps you have seen in other communities.”
Committee member Chuck Ward remained skeptical on the worth of a plan at all.
“Think when we look back on this thing we’ll say ‘how foolish we were to think we could implement a plan like this and have it affect anything,’” Ward said. “I think there are other ways of achieving goals. But so be it, this thing is being rammed down our throats. I’m on the planning commission and we will look at this with an open mind. We will not fight it tooth and nail.”
Flynt responded to the warnings and complaints with confidence and reasoned assurances.
“Atascadero is not unique in some of the concerns that some of your residents have expressed,” Flynt said. “Every community is unique in its character and charm and what makes it special. The goal here is to find something you’re going to want to support. It’s not to come up with something you’re going to hate or have rammed down your throat. That’s the bottom line.”
She went on to stress that the process is intended to include any- and everybody who could possibly want to be involved and that more people participating means more ideas and a higher likelihood of a result everybody can live with.
“[We want] to have a document at the end of the day that you are going to want to support as opposed to wanting to burn or run through the shredder,” she said.
The presentation was only a presentation not requiring the committee take any action. However, committee members felt that in the future it would be good to televise Central Coast GHG Planning information, so voted to hold future meetings at planning commission meetings instead of at Design Review Committee meetings unless the Atascadero City Council said otherwise.
For more information, including a tentative schedule of events and Twitter, Facebook and Google+ links, go to www.CentralCoastGHGPlanning.com.