Naval Weapons Station climate plan draws praise from environmentalists

Paul Thissen

CONCORD — The creation of a climate action plan for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station site puts Concord at the forefront of California’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, city officials and environmental activists said Wednesday as the plan was presented.

“We’re in new territory here,” said Ellen Greenberg of Arup, the city’s consulting company that prepared the plan.

Because the state laws are so new, it wasn’t initially clear which agency’s standards or models should be used, and the city had to calculate some of its own emissions targets, Greenberg said.

The plan lays out how zoning rules, building regulations and transportation policies can cut per-capita emissions 40 percent by 2030 from what they would be without the “green” rules. This is to comply with state laws requiring emissions reductions.

“This document is a tool toward achieving state mandates,” Greenberg said.
Last month the city also accepted a grant to prepare a citywide climate action plan, as required by state law. The plan for the base will eventually be folded into the citywide plan.

The Planning Commission reviewed the plan Wednesday. It will be back before the commission next month, and will be considered by the City Council before being approved.

Commissioners and city staff members acknowledged that some policies, particularly those about parking and traffic, could be controversial.

The plan would require paying for all public parking on streets and in lots. It also would require that the cost of parking spaces be “unbundled” from the price of housing units. So instead of selling a condominium with a parking space, there would be a separate price for the condo and the parking.

“Parking is going to be a key part of changing people’s behavior,” Greenberg said. “There will be a charge for all public parking “… the knowledge that folks are going to have to pay to park really influences their decisions.”

Several activist groups that had pushed the city to include strict environmentally friendly rules praised the plan.

“I want to congratulate the staff on a really fantastic climate action plan,” said Matt Vander Sluis of Greenbelt Alliance.

Amie Fishman, executive director of the East Bay Housing Organizations, said most of the plan was great, but that it should do a more thorough analysis of the match between jobs and housing. The base should include houses that people can afford with the jobs that will be created on the site, she said.

And Rosanne Nieto of the Concord Naval Weapons Station Neighborhood Alliance said that further environmental work should look again at traffic impacts of the base on surrounding neighborhoods.

“We’re looking for more intense traffic studies,” Nieto said.
The plan and schedule of hearings is posted at www.concordreuseproject.org.

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