FREMONT —  In updating its climate action plan, the city is asking residents for interactive advice on steps needed to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Through a digital forum the city is running through January, residents can indicate how important they consider such measures as adopting stricter environmental standards for new home construction, encouraging the installation of more electric vehicle charging stations and instituting local “green job” training.

Participants can use a sliding marker to indicate priorities, leave comments on each idea and suggest their own ideas.

“This forum, it’s different from a survey in that it’s a little bit more robust and interactive,” Rachel DiFranco, Fremont’s sustainability manager, said in an interview Wednesday.

“This online forum is a way for us to get feedback from the community in a way virtually that we’d love to be able to do in an in-person, couple-hour workshop where we put up ideas on a board,” she said.

Other ideas being considered range from improving public transit to cutting fossil fuel use to reducing the “urban heat island” effect by installing more water features and planting more trees along roads and medians.

Several ideas have already been suggested from members of the public, such as one asking the city to “dramatically expand household hazardous waste drop off hours” at the Fremont StopWaste facility.

DiFranco said by setting up a forum for more conversational feedback, instead of just simple surveys, the city is hoping to create new action plans that are “by the community and not just implemented onto the community.”

Fremont has taken some bold sustainability steps in recent years, like adopting a building code ahead of state standards that require solar installations on new home construction.

The city also requires new residential and commercial developments to provide “EV ready” parking spaces. That means they must be equipped with conduit, wiring and any special circuitry needed for installation of electric vehicle charging stations.

For most new multifamily or commercial projects, the city also requires that 10% of the parking spaces come with a charging station already installed.

DiFranco said the city adopted its first climate action plan in 2012, which called for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2020 from 2005 levels — a goal she said the city has exceeded.

She credited the nearly 30% drop in emissions achieved during that time largely to wider adoption of rooftop solar installations in recent years. And since 2018, the city has been participating in the East Bay Community Energy consortium, which provides greener and in some cases less expensive electricity than what’s offered elsewhere.

DeFranco said the city wants to reduce its total emission levels 30% by 2030 from what they were in 2005 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

The city will use the forum results, as well as input from some live community workshops being planned for January and early 2021, to craft a new draft action plan for the city council to consider in the spring.

“That’s really what this next plan is going to do,” DiFranco said. “Looking at, in the next handful of years, how are we going to move that needle substantially toward our 2030 goal.”

The digital forum can be found at www.fremontclimateaction.consider.it


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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