Friday, August 31, 2007

Suisun City Changes With The Climate

Suisun City Changes With The Climate
By Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - A proposal to build stores and 232 homes near Highway 12 and Cordelia Road includes features to reduce greenhouse gases that many scientists say cause global warming.

Bicycle racks would be conveniently placed. Houses would have outside electrical outlets to encourage use of electric mowers. Low-polluting cars would get better parking spaces.

The draft environmental report for the Gentry project in Suisun City is perhaps the first in the Solano County to include a section on global climate change. That's likely the wave of the future.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown says state laws require cities and counties to take global warming into account when considering development projects. Although some dispute his interpretation, Suisun City decided its Gentry report should include a climate change section.

"We just thought we'd play it safe and address it," said Heather McCollister, director of Suisun City Community Development.

But figuring out what the state expects cities to do about climate change is a challenge.

"Nobody really knows how we're supposed to address it yet," Fairfield Planner Erin Beavers said.

There are no court rulings addressing the issue, he said, and no established state or federal standards. Still, some cities and counties feel the pressure to do something. Brown sued San Bernardino County to force that county's General Plan update to address global warming. The two parties settled Aug. 21.

Brown's press office did not return calls. A Brown press release says cities can take steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, such as imposing development fees to fund mass transit and promoting high-density developments.

The state Air Resources Board is to develop standards for reducing greenhouse gases, but has yet to do so.

The Gentry project could produce an estimated 18,120 tons of carbon dioxide annually, the draft environmental report said.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a "significant and unavoidable impact," the report concluded.

Some scientists say global warming will cause sea level rise of 7 to 23 inches. The Gentry site is 2 to 10 feet above sea level and should remain dry, the report said.

Fairfield is doing an environmental study for its proposed train station and surrounding community. That study also will contain a climate change section.

The idea of the train station development is to promote mass transit use, Beavers said.

But the development will still have emission impacts, he said.

Solano County has yet to require a global warming section in the environmental report for the proposed, 370-home Rockville Trails Estates development, But the Solano Transportation Authority will have a section in the report for the proposed North Connector road.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

Steps considered by Gentry developers to reduce greenhouse gases
--Provide a satellite telecommunications center
--Use light colors where reasonable to increase reflectivity of roads, driveways and other paved surfaces
--Provide mass transit information kiosks
--Have shade trees near buildings
--Provide convenient bicycle parking and storage for store workers and patrons

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