The Santa Monica City Council is so proud of their commitment to sustainability that they are willing and determined to spend an additional $20 million on the planned expansion of City Hall just so they can almost (but not quite) earn a major international award from the Living Building Challenge. Yet they also intend to build a 12-story behemoth at 5th Street and Arizona instead of offering us a nice large urban green space. (They say they must build it to earn back all the money they spent on the property.) If you are concerned about climate change then you are probably aware that carbon dioxide emissions are one of the leading causes. However, you may not know that the cement industry is one of the primary producers of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
Here is what I think should be included in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for this project: at what point in time will each option turn into a “carbon sink”? If a park is built that is mostly green space there will be a point somewhere in the future when it will have absorbed the same amount of carbon dioxide that was generated to produce it. After that point it will flip and begin to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, i.e. a “carbon sink”.
All alternatives should have this timeframe included in their discussion. Is it 50 years for a green park, 100 years for a low-rise plaza, and 1,000 years for a 12 story building? This should be a relatively simple calculation to be performed for each option studied and it should be a focal point of the conversation. This option will require sacrifices of our “happy people in a happy city”. Water will need to be conserved so it can be spent on the park and there will of course be maintenance and event programming costs. Hopefully, it will help keep us happy.
City leaders pride themselves on their sustainability goals and achievements so far. This should be a high priority for our staff. The people of Santa Monica deserve to know what impact the council’s choice will have on the future of the climate of our planet.
As a citizen and resident of Santa Monica, you have one last chance to make your voice heard by requesting that the DEIR make a large green park the primary subject of the study and all other options be considered alternatives. And don’t forget to request the carbon sink study! Submissions must be sent to Rachel Kwok’s email firstname.lastname@example.org before 5:30 pm March 1, 2017. Thank you for caring about your city’s impact on the environment.
Board Vice President & Govt Affairs Officer
Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors