In the twenty years since the release of Santa Monica’s city-wide sustainability plan, four-term mayor Pam O’Connor has championed climate solutions and community livability to make Santa Monica into one of the country’s greenest cities. The Guardian recently interviewed O’Connor about why she’s succeeded, what role the private sector has played, and how other cities can replicate Santa Monica’s sustainability successes. Here were five of her key takeaways:
- Tailor sustainability planning to your local community. Like Santa Monica, every community has a unique set of needs and challenges. Considering the issues that resonate with your community’s businesses and residents will help ensure an air-tight sustainability vision that your entire community can get behind.
- Bring in the private sector’s voices. Local companies are critical partners for municipal sustainability efforts, but must be approached strategically, says O’Connor. “We don’t start with the mandate and say ‘do it,’” she says. Instead, Santa Monica’s planners collaborate with businesses before setting sustainability regulations. Planners have also incorporated stiff penalties to make sure businesses stay true to their commitments.
- Focus on the practical & profitable. O’Connor and her team focus on giving practical, profitable advice to help organizations meet city targets rather than approaching all sustainability issues through the broad, nonspecific lens of climate change.
- Don’t move the goalposts. The specifics of Santa Monica’s sustainability plan have evolved over the past 20 years, but the overarching vision of the plan has remained consistent. Shifting major goals midway through a sustainability plan’s tenure can disengage the community, O’Connor warns. Instead, establish aggressive but achievable goals early, and adjust tactics to meet those goals as needed.
- Embrace report cards. Assessing progress with a grading or metrics systems shows local businesses and residents that you’re serious about sticking with your plan.
Oliver Balch | The Guardian | April 22, 2014
Being US president has its stresses, but whenever Lyndon Johnson used to feel the job was becoming too overwhelming, he’d remind himself of a simple truth.
© Guardian News & Media Ltd