Thursday, February 24, 2011

San Luis Obispo County Climate Plan: "We've never been here before."

Only two counties in the State of California have detailed climate change adaptation plans in the works: San Luis Obispo is one. Last Thursday they held a community workshop on the plan. It is primarily a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but I know researchers focused on climate adaptation have been involved in this planning process, including one of California's leading lights on adaptation Susanne Moser.

From the article "County to Fight Against Climate Change" (David Sneed, Feb. 13, 2011, - The Tribune):

The county is of only two in California to have had a detailed climate adaptation study done. It looked at the various impacts climate change will have on the county and how to prepare for them.

The study was headed by the Local Government Commission, an organization that advocates centralized community and economic planning based on Ahwahnee Indian principles.

“San Luis Obispo County will be setting the marker for other communities,” [Michael] Boswell [a Cal Poly city planning professor] said.

Environmentalist and government watchdog Eric Greening of Atascadero urged county planners to concentrate on reducing emissions rather than adaptation.

“We’ve got to stop being so full of ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t the faintest idea what we are going to have to do to adapt to climate change. We’ve never been here before.”

It sounds like a good reason why you should focus on BOTH adaptation and reducing emissions (and, personally, I believe reducing emissions is a long-term adaptation strategy).

The article doesn't state which is the other California state county creating a detailed adaptation plan, but here is a November 2010 list (PDF) compiled by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) with links to 63 different California city and county, and 36 relevant non-Californian climate planning efforts. Most of these are concerning greenhouse gas reductions, but those are the plans where you can find most U.S. adaptation efforts.

Susanne Moser is working with both Fresno and San Luis Obispo counties on their adaptation plans, so this article might be referring to Fresno as the other county with a plan.

Read more about Fresno's adaptation plan here.

Read more about the San Luis Obispo adaptation plan here.

Read more about Susanne Moser's work supporting climate adaptation in California here.

P.S. If you don't know what the Ahwahnee Principles are, you are probably not a city planner. This author incorrectly refers to them as the Ahwahnee Indian Principles. They are a modern (1991) invention of some California city planners at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. Read more about their invention here.

The principles basically emphasize developing neighborhoods so that homes are located within walking distance of retail shops, schools, and public transit, and other social and economic efficiency principles. No "Ahwahnee Indians" were involved in the drafting of the principles, from what I can discern.

Read the “Ahwahnee Principles for Climate Change" here (PDF), published in 2008 by the Local Government Commission. Sacramento, CA.

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