Public input on SA Climate Ready, the city of San Antonio’s proposed climate action plan, is underway.
Around 130 people attended the roundtable discussions for conversations with members of the steering committee who helped draft the initial plan. The discussions focused on water, buildings and energy, and transportation.
The climate plan seeks to achieve some hefty goals by 2050, including shutting down coal plants around San Antonio, reducing the use of fossil fuels for everyday travel and increasing access to renewable energy.
Inside the Central Library Tuesday night, more than a dozen tables were set up with ten to twelve people at each one. Doug Melnick, the city’s chief sustainability officer, said the comments gathered would help shape the plan in a way that meets public expectations.
“All that’s basically going to be quantified, we’re going to evaluate it,” he said, “and really make adjustments to the plan to make sure that what we bring to council is going to be acceptable for as many people as possible.”
He added the city is taking these steps to offset or defer potential effects of climate change.
“When we start talking about climate change, we’re talking about increased heat, increased flooding, drier temperatures," he explained, "but at the end of the day this is really about our community’s quality of life and our future. It’s about air quality, it’s about mobility options, good jobs, clean and secure energy. It’s really about what that San Antonio is that we want for the future.”
At the beginning of the meeting, District 9 Councilman John Courage said the plan is about offering options.
“No one is being told they must do, or they need to do," he said, "and that means we’re not telling CPS [Energy] what it needs to do. We’re not telling any individual owner who drives a car what they need to do. But we are talking about options that are going to help us get to where we all want to be: a safe and clean environment for us, for our children … and so hopefully everybody will have that in mind as we discuss these.”
Melnick said most of the concerns are how the plan affects businesses and that it doesn’t go far enough in some places.
Parts of the plan have been deemed to cause uncertainty for the business community – specifically how far local businesses would have to go to meet carbon-neutral standards, according to Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez.
“What does that mean to a business, what does that mean to a homeowner, as you well know we have several businesses in San Antonio that are in the refinement and the transportation of crude oil, or oil products, or natural gas. What happens to them in the long term of this plan?” Perez said.
It’s input like that from Perez that was taken into account.
District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval said anything passed at City Hall is made stronger with input from different perspectives.
“We’re at a point where the framework is already in a manageable place, and just going out to the public I don’t think is really going to shake that up, but it does get us valuable input,” she said.
The public comment period for the climate plan is being extended into March. Comments can be submitted online at SAClimateReady.org. City Council may approve a final plan in mid-April.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.