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The Latest on the City’s Climate Action Plan

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Back in 2021, the Irvine City Council ordered the preparation of a Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP).

Three years later, the Council has reviewed the initial document and given the green light to City staff to hone the plan and bring it back for final Council approval in the fall. If it is approved at that time, it will be the first CAAP in Orange County.

The CAAP sets a goal of making Irvine a zero-carbon-emitting city by 2040. It includes 180 separate measures — from conducting energy audits of existing buildings to using low-carbon and carbon-sequestering materials in new development — that all work to lower the emission of greenhouse gases in the City.

Director of Public Works and Sustainability Sean Crumby and City Manager Oliver Chi, in a report to the Council on the progress of the CAAP, called the measures “aspirational yet achievable.” There will be a period of weaving the various measures into the City’s General Plan, zoning ordinance, and other ordinances and regulations, they said.

Crumby and Chi told the Council that the City’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, also adopted in 2021, is technically and financially infeasible.

The draft CAAP was the product of 18 months of public outreach and meetings, which involved some 3,000 residents.

The plan was also reviewed by the City’s Sustainability Commission which in April recommended several changes, including specific goals for reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and other categories. Commissioners also wanted the entire CAAP to be certified by the state as a “regulatory document” instead of as a “policy document.” This would give the City more authority, and more responsibility, in implementing the measures and meeting goals and targets.

Chi and City Attorney Jeff Melching said that certifying the entire CAAP all at once could open the City to lawsuits if a given goal or target is not met. Nevertheless, Sustainability Commissioners and others urged the Council to seek the certification.

In the end, the Council approved the staff-recommended action on a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Mike Carroll voting NO.

Roger Bloom

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