City Cheers First Draft of Climate Action Plan

The City Council liked what it heard about the Climate Action Plan, giving a figurative thumbs up to the first draft of a long-range guide to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in La Cañada Flintridge.
For the past six months, residents, consultants and city staff have been working on the plan, as necessitated by the city’s General Plan and paid for with a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments.
A fourth public workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at City Hall, and a final draft of the plan will be brought before the City Council for adoption in late-June. Because LCF is on target to meet all of the state’s environmental goals in 2020, the plan doesn’t include mandates, rather suggestions that will help the city remain in compliance by 2035.
“It’s a menu of choices, and if you want to get more aggressive, it gives us options,” Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Davitt said. “It’s a baseline for us to start.”
The 129-page document — which is available at lcf.ca.gov/planning/climate-action-plan — touches on climate action measures related to everything from energy and water, to transportation and solid waste.
“It’s essentially a starting point to get these discussions moving,” said Christina McAdams, an environmental scientist at Rincon, who said that LCF ranks near the middle of California cities for greenhouse gas emissions per capita. “At some point,” she added, “you will need to get more aggressive and this plan is a plan to achieve those targets.”
A sampling of suggestions includes partnering with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and La Cañada Unified School District to expand existing energy conservation programs; expanding the city’s commitment to reducing water use associated with greenhouse emissions; and developing a community bike share program.
“It’s tremendous, all the work that’s been done,” Mayor Jonathan Curtis said. “So much of this is addressed on a macro basis and what we’re trying to do here is trying to take the steps on a micro basis.”

SOUNDING OFF

The City Council voted 4-0 to approve a new ordinance intended to curb noise pollution in the city without infringing on residential activities that might make a reasonable amount of sound. (Councilman Len Pieroni was not in attendance.) The Community Noise Ordinance expands the city’s noise regulations, going beyond the previous guidelines that sought only to regulate noise from landscape maintenance, construction, advertising and animals.
The new ordinance — which will come before the council once more for a second reading next month before being enacted into law — will go further, including identifying objective standards for determining a violation according to whether sound averages more than a certain decibel level over the course of an hour. The ordinance also identifies subjective standards related to nuisance noise that might not exceed the objective threshold.
That threshold is determined by the type of property the sound is coming from, as well as what time of day it’s occurring.
The allowable noise from a single-family residential property, when measured from the property line between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. is 60 decibels, or equivalent to an air conditioning unit 100 feet away. Commercial properties measured similarly are not supposed to surpass 70 decibels, which is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.
City staff and local law enforcement will be equipped to measure decibels, said Susan Koleda, deputy director of community development.
Helga Ohannesian was not impressed with the new rules. She has complained to the City Council on numerous occasions about the noise she said her neighbor on Bel Aire Drive makes while doing woodworking. “If this passes the way it’s written now, my goose is cooked,” she said.
“Because this says my neighbor can do whatever he wants, even on Christmas Day. That’s not good enough.”
Construction activity is not permitted on Sundays and holidays, but “minor residential maintenance” will be allowed.
LCF resident Julie Thurston told the council the new ordinance would do nothing to limit the noisy leaf blowers that are being used in her neighborhood, by her count, 72 hours a week: “Come on, let’s do something about the noise!” she said.
“Individual people have different reactions to sounds than others,” said City Attorney Mark Steres, who credited the new law with avoiding too many specifics.
“The trouble with having it so specific … it’ll prohibit things you don’t want to prohibit,” Steres said. “Hopefully this gives staff more tools than it had without it.”

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