Council’s lost opportunity

A simple courtesy could have gone a long way

By approving a well-thought-out Climate Action Plan last week, the City Council put Chico in the forefront of municipal efforts to meet the requirements of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, and other legislation mandating reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.

To its credit, the council avoided placing mandates on local businesses—at least so far. Phase I of the plan, which seeks to reduce GHG levels by 10 percent from a 2005 baseline by the end of 2015, already has reached 98 percent of its goal by using voluntary incentives combined with city actions. Phase II, which will seek to reduce GHG levels an additional 15 percent by the end of 2020, will be more difficult to implement, but the council promised to make every effort to continue with voluntary programs.

The plan passed 5-2, with Councilmen Mark Sorensen and Bob Evans dissenting. They wanted the council to hold off on a final vote for two weeks so local business owners would have more time to study the plan. That harmless wish was echoed by three local businessmen, including the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. But the council majority, led by Mayor Ann Schwab, insisted on moving forward immediately.

That was a lost opportunity. By showing a simple courtesy, the council majority could have won greater buy-in from the business community—and, conceivably, Sorensen and Evans, and with them unanimous council approval of a significant local achievement.