The year began with forecasts of a wet winter. An El Niño weather system prompted local officials to issue reminders about basic safety precautions but the rain bypassed much of the area. Northern California received several inches of rain and snow fell in the highest points of the Sierra Nevada. Rain did fall in Santa Monica but there was very little damage or impact to local roads. Surrounding areas did experience problems such as flooded roads and mudslides. Subsequent rainstorms did little to improve the fifth year of drought conditions.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment, TreePeople, Heal the Bay, and the Natural Resources Defense Council created a new set of voluntary guidelines, known as Matrix 2.0, which officials said are the first of their kind for the county, and possibly even the state of California for regulating non-potable water. Comprised of rainwater, graywater, stormwater and blackwater, cooling tower blow-down water, condensate, and foundation drainage, non-potable water is water that is not intended for drinking, but is still of import for the many ways it can be used.
The first round of fines for perpetual water wasters hit the mail and City Hall said it could send about 100 citations per month to individuals that did not reduce water waste. Delinquent customers have three options for the first offense: pay the fine, appeal the citation or attend “water school,” similar to traffic school. Completion of the water education course would waive the first fine.
Heal the Bay released its annual beach report card and the Santa Monica Pier continued to score poorly on the report. Systemic issues such as a lack of sunlight under the pier and the presence of many birds perpetually tarnish the quality of the water and sand in close proximity to the Pier.
The Green Janitor Program continued to graduate local workers. The environmental education
program for janitors results in a certification with workers receiving training in sustainable practices. It was designed and piloted in collaboration with Building Skills Partnership (BSP),
the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter (USGBCLA), the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles industry experts, and building owners.
The Santa Monica City Council voted to approve an ordinance requiring all new single-family construction in the City of Santa Monica to be zero-net energy (ZNE), the first of its kind in the world. Zero-net energy is a building industry term for projects that generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources to equal what they take from the power utility over the course of a year.
A new public engagement tool was installed on the Santa Monica Pier and was the first use of virtual reality for understanding the impacts of climate change in Southern California. The freestanding viewers, named the Owl by manufacturer Owlized, Inc. offer visitors an immersive virtual reality display showing panoramic views of Santa Monica Beach. Inside the Owl, the public were able to see how the beach and infrastructure will flood due to sea level rise coupled with a large coastal storm.
Santa Monica made progress towards its water reduction/sustainability goals. Water customers cut usage enough to allow the city to temporarily suspend water imports from Los Angeles for several weeks in the early part of the year. City Hall wants to eventually eliminate the need to import any water from outside the city’s own well system.
The Santa Monica City Council voted to approve an ordinance requiring rooftop solar systems for all new construction in the City of Santa Monica—both residential and commercial.
The Bay Foundation, in partnership with the City of Santa Monica, announced the Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project. This project aims to transform an approximately three-acre section of existing sandy beach into a healthy, beautiful coastal ecosystem, to address coastal hazard risks while protecting and enhancing coastal resources, such as public beach access and recreation, natural shoreline habitat, and aesthetic values.