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City of Pasadena – Involving the Public in Climate Change Action

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Civic Engagement

Seeking public input on city climate action strategies and providing practical information to residents promotes community acceptance and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Community:Pasadena (Los Angeles County)

Population: 146,518


The City of Pasadena appointed a resident environmental advisory commission that meets monthly with city staff and the public. The city also organizes events to increase awareness of the importance of climate change and other environmental efforts among all residents, including a two-day Green Pasadena Leadership Summit that involved six hundred residents in developing the city’s “Green Action Plan.”

Program Highlights

  • The City Council appointed nine residents to serve on an environmental advisory commission that meets monthly with city staff to monitor the progress of the city’s Green City Action Plan and to serve as a forum for public engagement.
  • The city partnered with a nonprofit organization to organize a weekend-long Green Pasadena Leadership Summit to educate the community about the city’s green action plan and get thoughtful input on the plan from a broad cross section of residents.
  • The city conducted public outreach on climate change, including community meetings on specific topics such as green building seminars, solar energy workshops, and various types of water conservation workshops, as well as presentations and surveys at an annual earth day event that draws over 5,000 people.

Lessons Learned

  • Educating residents about the personal, community, and environmental benefits of actions such as recycling, reducing energy use, and incorporating “green” building works better than “doom and gloom” messages.
  • Engage and inform people about how to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  • There is a tremendous desire for action and specific information among residents on addressing climate change. Residents need practical information to help them embrace actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Pasadena’s “Green Team” was formed in 2006 and consists of city employees with the responsibility of developing a green city action plan. The team was asked to review the 2006 United Nation Urban Environmental Accords, which lists twenty-one actions cities can take to become more sustainable.

Green City Action Plan

The Green Team worked for six months to prepare a green city action plan that included over seventy initiatives for achieving urban sustainability. When the plan was presented to the city council in September of 2006, many residents showed up in support, and the plan was unanimously adopted. The City Council soon appointed a nine member environmental advisory commission and asked them to meet monthly with city staff to monitor the progress of the plan and to provide a forum for the public to provide input on environmental issues.

Green Pasadena Leadership Summit

In June 2007, the city joined with the nonprofit group Green Technology to create the Green Pasadena Leadership Summit, a weekend event designed to increase community awareness of the green city action plan, to engage residents in dialogue to measure their support, and to get help in prioritizing the seventy initiatives. The Mayor appointed a task force of thirty community leaders from the faith, education, and business sectors to help plan the event and target outreach to all parts of the community.

The six hundred residents who attended the Leadership Summit participated in education workshops and a ninety-minute facilitated session to rank the importance of each action item in the plan. The summit was an opportunity to for the city to consider future “green” directions and for the public to see how they could remain actively engaged in the process.

Compiled May 2009

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

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