King Tide Time Lapse

The Silicon Valley chapter of the Sunrise Movement is working on a concept called #WeRiseWithTheSea to demonstrate how sea level rise impacts flooding, particularly on days with King Tides. The below video shows their first timelapse recorded in Redwood City on a King Tide day.

All-Electric! …with exceptions

On September 21st, 2020, the City Council of Redwood City voted unanimously to pass all-electric reach codes with eight exceptions, as recommended by staff. Reach codes are legally required to be as or more strict than state codes, which are updated every three years, most recently going into effect on Jan 1, 2020. This article from before the first review of the staff report and the staff report itself offer more details on what the exceptions mean for development in Redwood City. The simple list is as follows:

  1. Hospitals
  2. Science labs
  3. Restaurants/catering business kitchens
  4. Factories and hazardous material facilities
  5. Projects that have previously approved land use entitlements
  6. Affordable housing projects
  7. Accessory Dwelling Units
  8. Other instances in which an applicant can submit a specific request for an exception because they feel circumstances exist that make it infeasible for their building to be an all-electric building

The exceptions make the reach codes passed by Redwood City less stringent than other surrounding cities, particularly the exceptions for affordable housing and hospitals. But as an article from Green Tech Media suggests, regulations coming in the 2022 building code cycle may require all-electric for all buildings, and even PG&E agrees it may be time to go all-electric.

Reach Codes in Redwood City

Tomorrow, September 14th, the Redwood City Council will consider all-electric reach codes after months of delays. In light of this finally coming before council, we’re posting another past comment on reach codes from one of our FFMP members.

The following statement was originally made by Laurel Bergman on December 9, 2019. At the time, Ian Bain was Mayor of Redwood City.


Good evening, Mayor Bain, Vice Mayor Howard and council members. My name is Laurel Bergman and I’m a Redwood City homeowner for over 26 years.  I want to thank you for your ongoing hard work and commitment to our community. I also have some concerns.

Front doors and sign, surrounded by pink cherry blossoms, of city hall in Redwood City, California.
City Hall in Redwood City

The Council apparently decided to postpone final discussion and voting on Reach Codes until 2020. I’m not sure why, but I know the need for taking immediate action to reduce greenhouse gases becomes more clear every day. This last week a report from the World Meteorological Org, a UN Agency, told us that “this decade is almost certain to have been the warmest in recorded history” and that we’re heading for a temperature increase of three degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That increase affects sea level rise, which will impact Redwood City.

What must we do locally to disrupt this devastating trend? We have many options for action. For example, most homes and businesses still use methane (also called “natural” gas). Buildings account for about 39% of CO2 emissions from burning natural gas; so moving from gas to electricity in buildings is one of our best options.

Changing the building code requirements for electrification of new construction is a significant start.  We must not delay further. Cities can and must adopt ambitious reach codes—codes that reach beyond basic requirements—ASAP.  It is said that nothing is constant but change. My own life experience tells me that another constant is our own resistance to it.  But in this case, we really don’t have time. Please take action quickly.

Thank you, and thanks to Fossil Free Mid-Peninsula for educating me in these matters.

An Equitable Transition

Our mission statement includes our goal to “advocate for swiftly and equitably transitioning to renewable energy.” A few of our members wrote the following statement that specifies what this goal means to us, and helps to tie our advocacy and education work to environmental and social justice.

We believe that the transition from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy must fully include the needs of people of color and low-income communities.

Please see the following resources from other climate organizations to learn more about environmental justice and an equitable transition to a fossil-free world.

Climate Justice Alliance
Just Transition: A Framework for Change
https://climatejusticealliance.org/just-transition/

Sunrise Movement
Green New Deal
https://www.sunrisemovement.org/green-new-deal

Hip Hop Caucus Think 100%
The Coolest Show (Podcast)
https://think100climate.com/podcasts/coolest-show-on-climate-change/

Sierra Club
Environmental Justice
https://www.sierraclub.org/environmental-justice

Extinction Rebellion
What is Climate and Ecological Justice?
https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-truth/about-us/what-is-climate-and-ecological-justice/

NRDC
The Environmental Justice Movement
https://www.nrdc.org/stories/environmental-justice-movement

This is An Actual Crisis

From the FFMP archive of statements to Redwood City Council Members, December 2019. This statement was originally made by Carol Cross, and easily applies to a number of crises we see today.

First, Let me add my congratulations to you, Madame Mayor, for becoming mayor. And my thanks to Council Member Bain for your supremely gracious and even-handed tenure as our former mayor.

Guess what? Tonight, I’m not going to talk about Reach Codes – probably to everyone’s relief. Instead, I’m going to tell you about a part of one of the lectures at my church faith’s annual conference this last June.

The minister who was speaking was talking about climate change, and she set out to impersonate Bill Nye, the Science Guy.  If you’ve ever caught him on PBS, you know he’s always in a lab coat and a bow tie.

So she put on a lab coat and a bow tie, and she reenacted a segment he did recently. His props were a globe and a flame thrower. And safety glasses. She didn’t have those, but she asked us to imagine them.

And then she said, “Since this is a religious gathering, I don’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities. Instead of using the expletives he used, I’m going to wave my arms, and you’re going to say, ‘bleep!!’’

And then she proceeded by impersonating him: “By the end of this century, if emissions keep rising, the average temperature on earth could go up another four to eight degrees. What I’m saying is, the planet’s on BLEEP fire!” And then she pretended to do what Bill actually did: he actually set the globe on fire!! 

“There are a lot of things we could do” – and she pretended to point to the sand, fire extinguisher, and blanket that he really had, and continued, “and are any of them free? NO, of course not, you idiots, nothing is free!! Grow the BLEEP up!! You’re not children anymore. I didn’t mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were twelve, but you’re adults now, and this is an actual crisis. Got it?” And that’s the message. It IS an actual crisis, just a mostly invisible one. And if you have the power to help slow that crisis, why wouldn’t you?

The Movement For Black Lives: Sign the Petition

At Fossil Free Mid-Peninsula, we advocate for a clean environment for ALL people, recognizing that pollution of local environments and economic disparities are disproportionately affecting people of color and other marginalized groups. Racial justice is inextricable from climate justice! 

Please join us in signing The Movement For Black Lives’ petition, here: https://m4bl.org/join-our-movement/

What are the lessons from the COVID-19 experience?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s an excellent article by FFMP’s Debbie Mytels on six important lessons from the COVID-19 experience, and how we can take what we’ve learned to approach the urgent threat of climate change.

  1. We are all interdependent
  2. Planning ahead for disasters (including climate change) is essential
  3. The racial and economic inequalities in U.S. society are now starkly visible
  4. Humans can change fast
  5. Government can act effectively for the common good — or it can be taken over by corrupt influences
  6. We need to overcome our fears — and look out for how they can be exploited

Read the article here.

Redwood City Environmental Initiatives Ad Hoc Committee

As written by a FFMP member, a very close to complete transcript of the last four minutes of the RWC Council Meeting, April 13. Topic listed under 7. MATTERS OF COUNCIL INTEREST; 7.B.City Council Committee Reports; A, Environmental Initiatives Ad Hoc Committee

Giselle Hale started, saying that there were three main points:

“1.) We are interested in having our city take a leadership role in our own operations by developing a green purchasing policy, focusing on vehicle and building electrification in particular. We’ve seen items going to consent and then seen public comments, and our comment to staff is that we’re now in a world where the community is going to hold us responsible for looking to see if there is a green alternative.

“2.) We discussed studying a GHG emissions target that is more ambitious than the state-mandated target. Initially when we sat down with staff they were looking to meet state goals, and we said, ‘Hey, we think our community is interested in a more aggressive target. We want to have a leadership stance on that.’ So they’re going to be coming back on that with a broader discussion, but also really important is the community discussion around what that would look like.

“3.) And then finally we discussed the time frame around both the CAP and the updated Reach Codes.”

After that, Ian added: “Basically what we’re trying to do is update the plan now to reflect the fact that Peninsula Clean Energy is now in place. That’s helping us meet our goals much faster. Which means we shouldn’t rest on our laurels, we should increase our goal. And Reach Codes will be an effective way to help us do that. The other thing is there have been lots of advancements in technology since 2013 when we first put our plan in place. So our new plan will reflect that.”