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City of Mountain View – Involving the Public in Climate Change Action

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Civic Engagement

Mountain View tapped into the passion and creativity of community residents to develop its climate action plan.

Community:Mountain View (Santa Clara County)

Population: 69,276

Summary

In early 2008, at the request of the Mountain View city council, over sixty Mountain View residents volunteered to participate in an environmental sustainability task force. They met over a seven-month period and delivered eighty-nine recommendations to thecity council on how the city could become more sustainable and reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Program Highlights

  • A sixty-eight member volunteer task force and steering committee met for seven months in 2008 and provided eighty-nine recommendations and an action plan to the city council on how to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.
  • The task force collaboratively developed an environmental sustainability action plan that was adopted by the city council in March of 2009.
  • Interested community members have formed a “Green Mountain View” group to work with the city council and staff to implement some of the environmental task force recommendations.

Lessons Learned

  • Make everything as transparent as possible. Providing all materials on the website and in a timely fashion helps promote full transparency.
  • Include as many avenues of participation as possible, both in person, on the web, and via email.
  • Find ways to make the process available to people who may otherwise have difficulty participating, such as people who are not native English speakers, youth, and the elderly.
  • Offer ample opportunity for anyone to be engaged – the seven month process provided a lengthy opportunity for community members to make their voices heard.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Recognizing the need to involve residents in order to successfully reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions community-wide, in early 2008, the Mountain View city council asked residents to volunteer to serve on an Environmental Sustainability Task Force and steering committee. All sixty-eight residents who volunteered were appointed to the task force or steering committee.

Task Force’s Public Process

The Task Force split into eleven working groups in order to be able to study specific issues thoroughly. In the process of crafting, refining, and prioritizing recommendations on how to reduce GHG emissions and create a sustainable community, they met dozens of times over a seven-month period. This included twenty publicly noticed meetings that involved more than seventy-five residents.

City staff observed that the large task force worked smoothly and effectively. It was a self-selecting group of community residents who were interested in the topic, reflecting a mix of backgrounds and ethnicities, including Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Russian, as well as youth participants. Some of the non-native English speakers reached out to their faith communities and, through other networks, to encourage broad participation from all segments of the city. A translator enabled non-English speakers to participate in the public meetings and the effort was publicized in multiple languages spoken in the city. The city youth coordinator reached out to schools and youth groups to encourage youth participation.

Eighty-nine Recommendations Offered

The Task Force offered eighty-nine recommendations in a 300-page report to the city council. An environmental consulting firm working with the city described it as one of the best resident driven report they had ever seen.

The city council formed a subcommittee to work with the task force to prioritize the eighty-nine recommendations. An environmental sustainability action plan that lays out a road map for city actions over the next eighteen months includes twenty-five of the eighty-nine recommendations for action during this initial period. Thirteen actions to be implemented in 2008-2009 were approved for funding by the city council in June 2009. Community members have formed a “Green Mountain View” group that meets monthly to work with city council and staff to implement many of the environmental task force recommendations.

 

Compiled May 2009

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

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