Climate Action Commission creates focus groups, fine-tunes workflow

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By Jacob Hoffman
Express Correspondent

On Sept. 12, the Climate Action Commission met virtually for its monthly meeting to discuss two principal agenda items.

The commissioners agreed to form two work groups related to key objectives of the commission as detailed in the packet. One will identify grant and incentive funding opportunities to support development of infrastructure that will increase resilience and reduce carbon emissions, while the other will focus on public information dissemination and community engagement.

Chair Kenneth Britten described the process of work group action reaching City Council, saying the groups will work on the specific function they were assigned and once they come up with something to be approved, the group will “make a formal proposal,” to the commission, who, “will amend these proposals, as guided by input from city staff,” and, “where significant action is proposed, WCAC (Winters Climate Action Committee) and/or staff will present the proposal to City Council for discussion, modification, or adoption.”

In line with the Brown Act, a transparency measure meant to prevent government bodies from acting outside of public oversight, each work group can have no more than two commissioners, one less than necessary for a quorum, which would constitute a meeting that had to be public. 

Commissioner David Springer and Britten volunteered to head the grant and incentive funding opportunities group, while Commissioners Woody Fridae and Gar House volunteered to head the public information dissemination group, with Senior Planner Kirk Skierski noting that outside experts can be included in these groups.

In addition to these groups, commissioners agreed to form additional groups to work on other tasks deemed necessary by the commission at a later time, including but not limited to greenhouse gas reduction goal setting, benchmarking, and quantification, as well as reviewing city policies and recommending amendments.

The commissioners also edited and worked on the wording of the workflow for the commission. This included adding an explicit provision for recommending legislation to city council, as well as adding verbiage related to emergency recommendations and adaptations related to climate, such as emergency power and fire safety measures. After coming up with a draft that present commissioners were satisfied with, Skierski suggested waiting until October’s meeting to approve it to give the commission more time to consider additions.

Commissioners discussed starting a digital reference library with the city clerk to ensure the commission’s actions are Brown Act compliant. Britten and House discussed the possibility of housing links to relevant documents being worked on by the commission on the meeting agenda. Ellena Branson, Deputy City Clerk, clarified that documents meant for the public access should be hosted on the city’s website, because if it’s on the agenda it has to be publicly accessible at all times, not just on an editable agenda. If it’s just for the commission and/or working groups, then the commission can create a resource library for the documents.

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