Sustainability Case Story

City of Manhattan Beach – Involving the Public in Climate Change Action

Climate Action Connection: Civic Engagement

By working with a community task force, Manhattan Beach was able to gather broad input and adopt regulatory changes that had community support, as well as promote personal lifestyle changes that can reduce greenhouse emissions.

Community:Manhattan Beach (Los Angeles County)

Population: 33,852

Summary

Manhattan Beach established an Environmental Task Force composed of residents and city officials to develop recommendations to the City Council to address a range of environmental challenges, including the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Program Highlights

  • Diverse 19-member Task Force includes residents of all ages interested in environmental issues with a wide array of skills and experience, including middle school students and senior citizens.
  • Task Force holds public meetings and focus groups to gather broader public input.
  • Task force recommendations adopted by the city are making an impact.

Lessons Learned

  • Have residents review what other cities have done to help guide their initial efforts.
  • Because addressing climate change can be overwhelming, breaking into smaller working groups to address specific topics, such as transportation, energy efficiency, and education, makes the job more manageable.
  • Have a community based group help get the word out about what people can do to address climate change. This is especially important for proposed lifestyle or regulatory changes.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Task Force Created

In September 2008, the Manhattan Beach city council appointed 16 residents to serve on an Environmental Task Force. Working alongside two City Council members and a School Board member, the Task Force helps the city tackle a range of environmental issues, including climate change, by vetting ideas and making recommendations for appropriate actions to the City Council.

Members of the Task Force were selected from over thirty applicants based on their passion, relevant expertise, and skill sets. Two slots were set aside for youth members. The Task Force is divided into four sub-committees, each of which has city staff assigned to assist them. A five member sub-committee focuses on how the city and the entire community can reach the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels. The public and press are also invited to monthly Task Force meetings.

In April of 2009, the Task Force engaged the greater public about the city’s climate change efforts at an Earth Day festival. To assist them in their deliberations, city staff prepared a handbook for Task Force members with relevant background information. Task Force members also are encouraged to do their own research and share their findings. The city looks to the Task Force to help it choose the best strategy to address climate change, and also plans to hold a larger, town hall style community meeting to engage more residents in considering future climate change actions.

Although the Task Force has existed only for a short time, it has already provided recommendations that were approved by the city council, including new green building requirements and water conservation measures.

 

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

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