“Half way is no way” pronounced Mayor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at San Francisco’s Department of the Environment in reference to his ambitious integrated systems approach to sustainability initiatives for the city. The Mayor held a press conference to announce and provide updates on about a dozen sustainable initiatives San Francisco has currently committed resources to. He also articulated specific challenges to implementing and “synergistically” connecting a number of those initiatives given the complexity of the current structures of governance processes.
As the second most¬†sustainable city in the nation, according to SustainLane, San Francisco maintains a healthy sense of competitiveness with top ranked Portland, says the Mayor. Cities were ranked based on 15 categories, such as green building, city innovation and air quality. San Francisco gained its ranking based on such sustainability initiatives as a comprehensive recycling program, large-scale composting, bike transportation, green buildings, and solar initiatives. Although the city by the Bay is setting the standards for municipal sustainability vision and implementation, some of the challenges to fully realizing the 10 year old Sustainability Plan are a shortage of affordable housing, less then adequate and efficient public transportation and congestion.¬†
(By Lina Constantinovici)
On Friday, April 11, 2008 at Casa Verde in the Mission, Mayor Gavin Newsom addressed his plans to put Carbon Tax on the November ballot. Voter support of this initiative would position San Francisco as the first city in the US to take a regulatory approach in addressing climate change. As the debate over cap and trade vs. carbon tax continues at national and local levels, the mayor expressed he does not consider the solution to be an either or proposition. Businesses in San Francisco have expressed concern over the proposed tax and the impact of a potential increase in expenses for those operating within the city limits. The Mayor’s proposal includes a decrease in the payroll tax burden to offset the cost of the Carbon Tax to businesses.
The Mayor also spoke to his commitment to residential wind energy while on a tour of Casa Verde, currently one of the 12 greenest homes in the world with a considerably smaller carbon footprint than the average home. The Sunset Magazine Idea house located the Mission district of San Francisco, one of the first LEED (link to LEED site) certified residential remodeled homes in the nation, gets 40% of its power from the windmill in the back yard, has a solar water heating system, PV solar panels, a living roof, and underground rainwater storage tanks used for the washing machine cold cycle and to flush toilets.