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Sustainable Salad Bowl/Sustainable Salinas

8/17/11:  Salinas has taken another positive step to meet its environmental goals by passing a ban on styrofoam/polystyrene food packing.  

On 11/3/09, the Salinas City Council will address the city’s progress on environmental goals, as outlined below.  If you have expertise—or an organization or business you know of does—in one or more of the most challenging areas, your advocacy, leadership, and support can make a critical difference in helping Salinas meet all 21 of the urban environmental goals.  Please see below for details.  And a link to a related staff report is found at the end of this post.

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During a winter visit to Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, population 1700, the fresh cauliflower I purchased at the local grocery store was labeled “grown in Salinas, California.” Yes, the county seat for Monterey County also serves as Salad Bowl of America.  That’s not just a marketing boast, it’s fact; for eight months of the year, the Salinas Valley provides the majority of the nation’s lettuce.

Salinas wants to keep more than its lettuce green.

Salinas is most recently in the national news due to repeated gang violence.  And the city had nationwide infamy nearly five years ago because—albeit the birthplace of literary great John Steinbeck—it was considering closing its public libraries, following a failed tax initiative.  (Fortunately solutions were found in 2005, and the Salinas Public Library celebrated its centennial year with a party on 9/27/09.)

Economic sustainability is a present challenge for Salinas too, as it is for much of California and the nation.  And yet, Salinas is paying attention to the fact that environmental sustainability is essential as a foundation for all manner of health and prosperity.

Mayor Dennis Donohue signed the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords, made up of 21 points, as well as the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which includes 12 points.  As a result, Mayor Donohue and other city leaders are mindful of a total of 32 eco action goals for the City of Salinas.  And even while city leaders are under great pressure to focus on gang-related homicides, budget deficits, and more, they are not closing their eyes to the larger picture.

It would be inaccurate to say that Salinas has been at the eco forefront.  Nonetheless, many City of Salinas leaders, like Mayor Donohue, realize the interrelatedness of economic sustainability and social pressures with environmental sustainability.  And now city staff has a report for the city council to update the council on where Salinas is with regard to meeting the 21 action points of the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords.

According to city staff’s assessment, Salinas has already achieved many of the 21 goals, including:

Achieved UN Action 4 (Waste Reduction) – Establish a policy to achieve “zero waste” to landfills and incinerators by 2040.

Salinas is in the process of achieving others, such as:

Will achieve UN Action 7 – (Urban Design) Adopt a policy that mandates a green building rating system standard that applies to all new municipal buildings.

Salinas will benefit from help, however, to meet the 21 goals it sees as most challenging:

If you have expertise—or an organization or business you know of does—in one or more of these challenge areas, your advocacy, leadership, and support can help the City of Salinas meet all 21 of the urban environmental goals. Below are a couple of  examples; you may contact me to learn about others.

The city, at present, sees as challenging to achieve UN Action 10 (Urban Nature) – Ensure that there is an accessible park or recreational open space within half-a-kilometer (0.3 mi or 1640 ft) of every city resident by 2015.  Also, UN Action 17 (Environmental Health) – Promote the public health and environmental benefits of supporting organic foods. Ensure that twenty per cent of all city facilities (including schools) serve locally grown and organic food within seven years.

Where to get details:

Final version of a staff report is typically available to the public, and posted on the City of Salinas website the week before the related item will be on the council’s meeting agenda.  Agendas are posted online by the Friday prior to the regular Tuesday meeting dates.

Previously postponed, the UN Urban Environmental Accords item is nowon the agenda for the November 3, 2009 meeting and the staff report is likewise now available online. As of 10/29/09, you may access the agenda and report online by clicking here.

The public is welcome to attend council meetings, where public comments are generally limited to three minutes per speaker.

City of Salinas also has an online comment form (with drop-down menu to address the city council).  Or, share your ideas, questions, and comments via postal mail or phone call.

News of related efforts may be available through Sustainable Salinas, a citizens group affiliated with Sustainable Monterey County, and other organizations.

This post was published on 24 August 2009. One or more changes last made to this post on 11 June 2017.

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