Change the comprehensive plan, zoning, and development code to prohibit building in areas likely to become flood prone in coming decades. Such a plan raises Burt Harris Act issues, so the state must be part of the solution. End new beach construction to avoid putting more people and property at risk. Push our congressmen to oppose federal rebuilding in vulnerable areas after a storm. Create tax incentives for property owners to move from coastal areas to higher ground. Consider notifying property owners that the city will not maintain infrastructure in flood prone areas past a certain date. Switch to renewable energy in city buildings and fleets and give incentives for businesses to switch. Expand mass transit.
As mayor we instituted the Greenprint program which was a far-reaching sustainability and cost-reduction plan. We were the first municipality to convert our fleet to compressed natural gas which is 90 percent cleaner than diesel. We built a fueling station that served the city but was also available to the public. All new construction was LEED certified at whatever levels we thought provided the best cost/benefit ratios. Again we need to change our codes to allow for improved defenses. We also need to find better ways to reduce beach erosion and not rely on beach renourishment that is very costly and offers only temporary benefits. As technologies improve and become more affordable, I fully support adoption.
A. The long-term threat is the rising sea levels — initially on sewer laterals through rising ground water tables, Clearwater roads and infrastructure, and on low lying property. My action: adopt as one of the citywide values: "Sustainability"; adopt as a council policy the environmental impact evaluation process as recommended by the recent Clearwater Charter Review Committee; increase urban forest on city property and right of ways; seriously consider full implementation the city's December 2011 Greenprint Plan and its eight recommendation areas; and specifically acquire expanded environmental preservation land to expand Moccasin Lake Nature Park. B. Short term is the implementation of the (National Flood Insurance Program's) Community Rating System to minimize impacts of storms and hurricanes on property and the lives of Clearwater residents. This likely will require prohibitions on further building in some locations. C. It should be noted that only 12 percent of Clearwater’s land area is in the coastal high hazard zone versus 41 percent of St. Petersburg. D. The big question in both cities is funding resilience adaption and mitigation.
First off, more trees. I am pushing to add 1 million trees to Clearwater, including mangroves, but also many of the indigenous trees that have been removed over the years. But moving forward with infrastructure planning and development to make sure we are heading towards actual sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint.
First acknowledge that climate change is real. Storms are getting worse and the temperatures keeps rising as do the ocean levels. We need to update the 9-year-old Greenprint Initiative. Hiring our first sustainability coordinator last year was an overdue but welcome change. Turn to St. Petersburg's integrated Sustainability Action Plan as the template. Increase public transportation with more bus routes and more frequent arrivals.
I will support policies that preserve our beaches, wetlands, tidelands, coastlines, and waterways. I support actions that protect the quality of life for our beach community and scrutinize incompatible development within our shoreline communities. Make decisions that are forward focused on sustainability and resiliency for today's and tomorrow's generations by ensuring responsible policies are created for building codes, zoning, planning purposes, floodplain management, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. These policies should support the city's vitality and resiliency through long-term adaptive planning for the flooding risks associated with climate change, coastal storm surges, intense rain, rising high tides, hurricanes and storms.
We need to make sure that we are anticipating the possibility of sea level rise in long-term planning of our streets and roads. The city may be sued for either not doing enough or doing too much and should avoid the kind the kind of costly litigation that has been recently reported in South Florida. We should engage in appropriate long-term planning and budgeting to anticipate expensive changes and improvements that will be needed to address sea-level rise in the future.
We must take steps to replace plastic straws and single use containers with reusable items and eliminate dumping of waste in our waters that pollute and create algae that result in red tide at our beaches.
Climate change is an immediate problem. We need to incorporate resiliency in all of our infrastructure upgrades and maintenance programs. We need to expand the number of charging stations for the growing number of electric cars so we can help reduce our carbon footprint. Our Imagine Clearwater project should also incorporate resiliency into its design.
To mitigate the impacts of climate change and storm events, Clearwater needs a comprehensive environmental strategy, measurable goals, and action. By the end of 2020, the city should set environmental and resiliency goals and take action that will benefit residents across many areas, including: 1. Set measurable renewable energy goals and carbon emission reduction goals. These measurable goals should be reached no later than 2050, with interim goals. 2. Put in place a revolving green fund that takes savings from renewable energy and efficiencies and reinvests a portion of the savings for future projects. 3. Set goals and create plans for increasing resiliency of infrastructure, in tandem with the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition. 4. Put in place policies and procedures that ensure transparency and accountability to show progress on a yearly basis.
The city is improving its efforts on its own. I would not "push" them. The Green Print is being reassessed, the city has hired a sustainability coordinator who is doing a fine job. We should follow the plan already laid out. I would encourage the city to continue to follow the plan. Climate change has been going on for thousands of years. We must be prepared to adapt to whatever comes. We have already done some of that, for example, in requiring an extra foot higher on new construction on development in beach and other flood zones. I have long been a proponent for both solar and wind energy production — but not at any cost. Being a free-market and small-government proponent, I believe as the price tag comes down on solar, homes and businesses will adapt it. City governments should not force the private sector in the choice of what energy sources homes and businesses adopt. I'm not a proponent of subsidies of any kind on any energy production; a free market should determine non-government energy source choices.
I am not a supporter of the climate change theorists.
The hiring of a sustainability coordinator is a step in the right direction, however the current Green Print initiative needs to be updated to reflect today’s changing times.