Santa Monica, CA Sustainable City Program

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Santa Monica, CA, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Initiated in 1994

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In September 1994, the Santa Monica City Council took steps to address sustainability issues in the community adopting the Santa Monica Sustainable City Program. The Sustainable City Program was initially proposed in 1992 by the City’s Task Force on the Environment to ensure that Santa Monica could continue to meet its current needs – environmental, economic and social - without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. It was designed to help us as a community begin to think, plan and act more sustainably – to help us address the root causes of problems rather than the symptoms of those problems, and to provide criteria for evaluating the long-term rather than the short-term impacts of our decisions – in short, to help us think about the future when we are making decisions about the present.

The 1994 program includes goals and strategies, for the City government and all sectors of the community, to conserve and enhance our local resources, safeguard human health and the environment, maintain a healthy and diverse economy, and improve the livability and quality of life for all community members in Santa Monica. To check our progress toward meeting these goals, numerical indicators were developed and specific targets were set for the city to achieve by the year 2000 in four goal areas – 1) Resource Conservation, 2) Transportation, 3) Pollution Prevention and Public Health Protection, and 4) Community and Economic Development. Progress reports were prepared to track the City’s progress toward meeting its goals in 1994, 1996, and 1999 .

By 2001, following seven years of implementation, the Santa Monica Sustainable City Program had achieved much success. Many of the initial targets had been met or exceeded and Santa Monica had become recognized as a worldwide role model for sustainability. However, in reviewing the progress made since the 1994 adoption of the program, the Task Force on the Environment recognized the need to update and expand the program. They noted that while progress had been made in the right direction, Santa Monica’s economy and the activities of its residents, businesses, institutions and visitors continued to negatively impact human health and the environment. And the community was not yet able to provide for the basic needs of all its members. The Task Force felt that a compressive update process to improve and expand the program was necessary to achieve the initial program goals.