Alameda receives urban greening grant
The City of Alameda beat out a host of other local governments, planning agencies and nonprofits to win a $250,000 state urban greening grant. The grant funds will be used to generate a comprehensive urban greening plan that city officials hope to have ready by September 2012.
The grant comes from the state’s new Urban Greening for Sustainable Communities Program, which awards money to promote urban greening throughout California. The program is funded by Proposition 84, the $5.4 billion-dollar Safe Drinking Water bond approved by voters in November 2006, and will distribute over $17 million in planning grants during this funding cycle.
The to-be-created Urban Greening Plan will serve as a long-term strategy for the improvement and maintenance of Alameda’s physical environment. In keeping with grant requirements, the plan aims to decrease the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution, reduce the consumption of natural resources, increase the reliability of local water supplies, and strengthen the Island’s adaptability to climate change. According to Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott, it will be “a comprehensive greening plan that helps address climate protection with a holistic, integrated approach.”
The city applied for the grant on April 26, and city officials announced they had won it at a City Council meeting last week. With the grant money, cities must develop projects to further statewide and community-specific environmental health goals.
The city’s proposal was scored on the basis of specific criteria, including its need for an urban greening plan, level of community involvement and participation, integration with governmental and regional entities and existing resources, promotion of public health and organizational capacity. Priority consideration was given to plans proposed by or serving communities “vulnerable to climate change” and those that are “disadvantaged” or “severely disadvantaged” (communities with median household incomes less than $47,942 or $35,956, respectively).
In their grant proposal, city staff described Alameda as a community “seriously threatened by the impacts of climate change,” particularly in regard to the effect of rising sea levels and flooding. The proposal identified the Island’s coastal infrastructure, lagoon systems and Alameda Point as particularly vulnerable. Citing the report “Coastal Impact Study: Nation Under Siege” by the nonprofit Architecture 2030, the proposal explained that a three- to five-meter rise in the sea level would have a “catastrophic impact on the island City of Alameda,” submerging “the vast majority of land mass and all ecologically sensitive coastal areas” and causing “physical, ecological and economic devastation.”
The plan being made possible by the grant will unify a series of recent efforts on the part of the City Council to make Alameda more ecologically healthy. The 2008 Local Action Plan for Climate Protection outlines plans to encourage walking and bicycling, plant trees, compost Alameda’s waste and save natural resources; the 2009 Bay Friendly Landscape Ordinance and 2010 Master Street Tree Plan also describe the city’s commitment to greening.
The total estimated cost of creating the plan is $316,425.
Under the terms of the grant, the city must consult with numerous other entities before finalizing its master plan. In its application, it listed 13 community “stakeholder” organizations and eight regional entities with which it will meet.
“Alameda residents and stakeholder groups are extremely involved in their community. Public participation is an integral part of life on the island,” they wrote.
Public review and input, also mandated by grant guidelines, will take place at two or three publicized community workshops.
Along with retrofitting, carbon footprint reduction and wetlands restoration, Ott said that sustainably grown local food will be an important component of the city’s greening strategy. Ott hopes that a new relationship with the Alameda County Public Health Department will help the city to spread awareness of the link between ecological and human health.
Ott said the county health department will train Alameda’s Recreation and Park Department staff to incorporate nutritional education and to incorporate physical activity into current programs conducted in parks and community gardens.
This collaboration will be just one aspect of the city’s new Urban Farm and Garden program, which Ott said “will integrate new urban agriculture and gardening projects with existing city policy for healthier living and a more sustainable local food source.” The city plans to initiate the project on October 1.