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County’s emissions plan gets air district’s approval

County’s emissions plan gets air district’s approval

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The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has approved Napa County’s draft plan to reduce carbon emissions by 2020, but wants the county to do more, including charging for on-street parking in the unincorporated area.

By 2020, the county’s plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its unincorporated areas to 15 percent below the amount measured in 2005, consistent with goals of a state law passed in 2006.

The plan, which is subject to revision, will have a public hearing before the county Planning Commission on Jan. 18. It will not take effect until the Board of Supervisors adopts it.

The plan takes into account how state and county policies will reduce emissions, including a requirement that the county and developers identify steps to reduce emissions before project permits will be issued. 

Other steps aim for greenhouse gas reductions through retrofitting existing buildings, advocating that landfills receiving county waste install technology that captures emissions, conserving land and planting new vegetation, according to the plan.

In a letter to county planners dated Jan. 6, the air district said the plan meets the minimum standard, but recommended additional steps that could further reduce emissions. 

These include expanding several ordinances devoted to sustainable and energy-efficient development, as well as mandating installing “cool roofing” and “cool paving,” charging for on-street parking, and making parking charges a separate item in residential and commercial rents.

The roofing and paving requirements would promote materials that reflect the sun’s heat, as opposed to absorbing it, which would lower surface temperatures and reduce emissions, said Abby Young, principal environmental planner with the air district.

Charging for parking and installing parking meters may not make much sense on the roads in the rural county’s unincorporated area now, Young said, but it could be made a requirement for future development.

Young said the air district advocates charging for parking and separating its cost from rental bills to get residents to see how expensive driving can be, and how cheap public transit, biking or walking is in comparison.

“It tries to assign a cost to driving when you could take a bus or ride your bike,” Young said.

She said these recommendations are commonly made in many of the plans the air district has reviewed from throughout the Bay Area.

County planning and environmental management staff has been working on the plan since 2008, and revised it in October after hearing from agricultural, development and environmental groups, Steve Lederer, director of the county’s environmental management department, said in a news release.

The county will consider the air district’s suggestions, as well as input from the public and the Planning Commission, he said in the release.

“While the air district found that the plan meets their guidelines, staff also made several suggestions to strengthen the plan,” Lederer said in the release. “We will consider this input, as well as that provided by the Planning Commission when the members conduct a public hearing on Jan. 18.” 

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