EL CERRITO — Residents weighed in Tuesday evening with suggested additions and revisions to the city's draft Climate Action Plan, calling for a community that is friendlier to pedestrians and offers more transportation alternatives to hills residents.
The comments came in a public comment session for the climate plan, which is aimed at making El Cerrito more energy efficient and reducing the amount of greenhouse gases residents release into the environment.
The plan aims to meet a City Council mandate to reduce greenhouse emissions from city and private sources from 2005 levels by 15 percent in 2020 and 30 percent by 2035.
The meeting marked the end of a one-month public comment period on the draft document. The City Council is expected to act on a revised draft at its May 21 meeting, said Maria Sanders, a city environmental analyst.
The report identifies motor vehicles as the single largest greenhouse gas emissions source at 51 percent. Residential and commercial energy use is the second-largest source at 44 percent, with residential energy use double that of commercial.
Steve Price, a 25-year resident and a former planning commission member, suggested a goal of creating more "useful, walkable commercial areas" where residents could gather in coffee bars and restaurants without having to drive.
"We're all social animals and we like to congregate together," Price said. "We don't have a place that's a public space."
Price also called for a plan to create a local economy that would attract entrepreneurs who would create green businesses.
Gary Hill, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, lamented the lack of a social focus in El Cerrito Hills neighborhoods, requiring residents to drive to centers of community activity.
He suggested encouraging residents to use electric bicycles that would make the uphill climb to hillside houses less strenuous than regular bicycles.
"The hillside areas are missing a social pocket," Hill said. "People in the hills don't have an option except to drive a lot."
Planning Commissioner Andrea Lucas also called for giving residents a way to "get down to places to shop without getting in their cars."
She suggested setting up electric vehicle recharging pods on San Pablo Avenue, creating a plan for controlling emissions from wildland and structure fires and regulating the use of gas leaf blowers and two-cycle engines.
East Bay Municipal Utilities board member Andy Katz called methane from food waste a very serious factor in global warming.
He suggested El Cerrito join Oakland and San Francisco in contracting to use the utility's anaerobic digester that generates energy in converting food waste to CO2, which he said is a much less potent greenhouse gas generator than methane.
The comment session was hosted by El Cerrito's citizen Environmental Quality Committee.