Davis Talks the Talk on Global Warming

But Other Cities Like Berkeley are walking the walk.

In an effort to help fight global warming, the city of Davis has vowed to stop selling or using disposable water bottles at city events or city concession stands.

One idea was to sell reusable water bottles with the city logo on one side and instructions on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the other side.

Even City Councilmember Don Saylor seemed to acknowledge it was symbolic:

“In some ways, this resolution will be largely symbolic, a way for the public to see us doing something… It’s a way to get the word out. Every small thing makes a difference.”

One intriguing aspect that I would like to see the city do is what they did at the Whole Earth Festival–in addition to no disposable cups, they also charged a deposit on all plates and cups so that people would return them for them to be composted. No reason that the city as a whole cannot adopt those policies and not just for city sponsored events.

However, you will forgive me if I say that I have grown tired of this city council’s rhetoric on global warming.

Last spring, there was a long and lengthy debate over whether a new housing development ought to be required to install solar panels on the roofs. Such an endeavor would add a large cost of perhaps $20,000 to the property, but that would have a very real impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Much more than say, banning the city from using disposable cups.

Along those lines this week, the City of Berkeley put Davis in its place and showed Davis who was the boss and the leader in terms of environmental thinking. I know there is a natural resentment in Davis to anything Berkeley. My only response to that is to get over it.

According to an article yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle,

“Berkeley is set to become the first city in the nation to help thousands of its residents generate solar power without having to put money up front – attempting to surmount one of the biggest hurdles for people who don’t have enough cash to go green.

The City Council will vote Nov. 6 on a plan for the city to finance the cost of solar panels for property owners who agree to pay it back with a 20-year assessment on their property. Over two decades, the taxes would be the same or less than what property owners would save on their electric bills, officials say.”

Now officials in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, and some state agencies are looking into the plan. Where is Davis on this list?

“This is how Berkeley’s program would work:

A property owner would hire a city-approved solar installer, who would determine the best solar system for the property, depending on energy use. Most residential solar panel systems in the city cost from $15,000 to $20,000.

The city would pay the contractor for the system and its installation, minus any applicable state and federal rebates, and would add an assessment to the property owner’s tax bill to pay for the system.

The extra tax would include administrative fees and interest, which would be lower than what the property owner could obtain on his own, because the city would secure low-interest bonds and loans, officials say. The tax would stay with the property even if the owner sold, although the owner would have to leave the solar panels.

The property owner would save money on monthly Pacific Gas & Electric bill because electricity generated by the solar panels would partly replace electricity delivered by the utility. After the assessment expired, the solar panels – of a simple technology that requires little or no maintenance – would continue to partly replace PG&E electricity.

Bates’ chief of staff, Cisco DeVries, came up with the idea about eight months ago when he was looking for ways the city could meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under a measure that Berkeley voters approved last year. Measure G mandates that the city cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050…

If the plan succeeds, Berkeley would be about 10 percent closer to its Measure G target, Burroughs said. Solar panels shouldn’t be a tough sell in Berkeley, he said, which already has more solar systems per capita than any other Northern California city.”

I actually think that is a conservative guess as to how much the taxpayer/ ratepayer might save on electricity. For instance, I know someone who installed solar panels, and now does not have an electricity bill from PG&E. That is probably not realistic for some, but the amount of cost mitigated by solar panels would make sense over the long term. However, many people do not have a 20 year or even 10 year interest, the city of course does.

This is something that the city of Davis ought to look into if they are serious about moving being symbolic measures and wish to help lead the way toward green energy and reductions of greenhouse gases.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Environment

92 comments

  1. What an invigorating idea to wake up to on a Saturday morning to wash away the enervating pall of political pessimism and hopelessness that seems to currently hang over our city. New economic paradigms are out there and REAL! They are not utopian fantasy.

  2. What an invigorating idea to wake up to on a Saturday morning to wash away the enervating pall of political pessimism and hopelessness that seems to currently hang over our city. New economic paradigms are out there and REAL! They are not utopian fantasy.

  3. What an invigorating idea to wake up to on a Saturday morning to wash away the enervating pall of political pessimism and hopelessness that seems to currently hang over our city. New economic paradigms are out there and REAL! They are not utopian fantasy.

  4. What an invigorating idea to wake up to on a Saturday morning to wash away the enervating pall of political pessimism and hopelessness that seems to currently hang over our city. New economic paradigms are out there and REAL! They are not utopian fantasy.

  5. Davis has an advantage over many other communites – open space in direct line to the sun(fewer cloudy days than the Bay Area, no hills and very few large trees). If the community is serious about this then it really should consider placing a solar farm in the green belt area. A solar farm would be far cheaper to install and maintain than individual units on top of houses.

    Perhaps the first thing to done would be to mandate 100% use of CFL’s – every bulb replaced represents an 80% reduction of electricty use for the same amount of light.

  6. Davis has an advantage over many other communites – open space in direct line to the sun(fewer cloudy days than the Bay Area, no hills and very few large trees). If the community is serious about this then it really should consider placing a solar farm in the green belt area. A solar farm would be far cheaper to install and maintain than individual units on top of houses.

    Perhaps the first thing to done would be to mandate 100% use of CFL’s – every bulb replaced represents an 80% reduction of electricty use for the same amount of light.

  7. Davis has an advantage over many other communites – open space in direct line to the sun(fewer cloudy days than the Bay Area, no hills and very few large trees). If the community is serious about this then it really should consider placing a solar farm in the green belt area. A solar farm would be far cheaper to install and maintain than individual units on top of houses.

    Perhaps the first thing to done would be to mandate 100% use of CFL’s – every bulb replaced represents an 80% reduction of electricty use for the same amount of light.

  8. Davis has an advantage over many other communites – open space in direct line to the sun(fewer cloudy days than the Bay Area, no hills and very few large trees). If the community is serious about this then it really should consider placing a solar farm in the green belt area. A solar farm would be far cheaper to install and maintain than individual units on top of houses.

    Perhaps the first thing to done would be to mandate 100% use of CFL’s – every bulb replaced represents an 80% reduction of electricty use for the same amount of light.

  9. I actually watched the Tuesday CC “debate” on the water bottles … and Saylor put into the motion an exception if the City Manager thought the bottles might be allowed, at his discretion. So the “ban” means little or nothing. Why isnt the city looking at the efficiency of its large fleet of gas and diesel fuel guzzling vehicles? What about the lights in Community Chambers? They are clearly “low hanging fruit” that could be easily replaced with modern bulbs. But … staff basically dont want to be bothered. So staff ties up precious CC agenda time on a meaningless ban on plastic water bottles? Watching it Tuesday night made me sick, and once again I vowed not to watch CC meetings again. So I wont, until next time …. Dear God, wont someone run for CC this time and replace one or two of the idiots?

  10. I actually watched the Tuesday CC “debate” on the water bottles … and Saylor put into the motion an exception if the City Manager thought the bottles might be allowed, at his discretion. So the “ban” means little or nothing. Why isnt the city looking at the efficiency of its large fleet of gas and diesel fuel guzzling vehicles? What about the lights in Community Chambers? They are clearly “low hanging fruit” that could be easily replaced with modern bulbs. But … staff basically dont want to be bothered. So staff ties up precious CC agenda time on a meaningless ban on plastic water bottles? Watching it Tuesday night made me sick, and once again I vowed not to watch CC meetings again. So I wont, until next time …. Dear God, wont someone run for CC this time and replace one or two of the idiots?

  11. I actually watched the Tuesday CC “debate” on the water bottles … and Saylor put into the motion an exception if the City Manager thought the bottles might be allowed, at his discretion. So the “ban” means little or nothing. Why isnt the city looking at the efficiency of its large fleet of gas and diesel fuel guzzling vehicles? What about the lights in Community Chambers? They are clearly “low hanging fruit” that could be easily replaced with modern bulbs. But … staff basically dont want to be bothered. So staff ties up precious CC agenda time on a meaningless ban on plastic water bottles? Watching it Tuesday night made me sick, and once again I vowed not to watch CC meetings again. So I wont, until next time …. Dear God, wont someone run for CC this time and replace one or two of the idiots?

  12. I actually watched the Tuesday CC “debate” on the water bottles … and Saylor put into the motion an exception if the City Manager thought the bottles might be allowed, at his discretion. So the “ban” means little or nothing. Why isnt the city looking at the efficiency of its large fleet of gas and diesel fuel guzzling vehicles? What about the lights in Community Chambers? They are clearly “low hanging fruit” that could be easily replaced with modern bulbs. But … staff basically dont want to be bothered. So staff ties up precious CC agenda time on a meaningless ban on plastic water bottles? Watching it Tuesday night made me sick, and once again I vowed not to watch CC meetings again. So I wont, until next time …. Dear God, wont someone run for CC this time and replace one or two of the idiots?

  13. I don’t think people should be so quick to dismiss the council’s action – water bottles are becoming a serious environmental problem and the council’s action brings awareness to the problem and attempts to begin to change how society views the use of disposable bottles. The council should be commended for doing something that is very cheap, yet potentially effective, and somewhat ahead of the curve.

    Instead of criticizing the council for not fixing all of the world’s environmental problems, I think people should at least recognize that their action is an important first step.

    Now, how about banning wood burning stoves?

  14. I don’t think people should be so quick to dismiss the council’s action – water bottles are becoming a serious environmental problem and the council’s action brings awareness to the problem and attempts to begin to change how society views the use of disposable bottles. The council should be commended for doing something that is very cheap, yet potentially effective, and somewhat ahead of the curve.

    Instead of criticizing the council for not fixing all of the world’s environmental problems, I think people should at least recognize that their action is an important first step.

    Now, how about banning wood burning stoves?

  15. I don’t think people should be so quick to dismiss the council’s action – water bottles are becoming a serious environmental problem and the council’s action brings awareness to the problem and attempts to begin to change how society views the use of disposable bottles. The council should be commended for doing something that is very cheap, yet potentially effective, and somewhat ahead of the curve.

    Instead of criticizing the council for not fixing all of the world’s environmental problems, I think people should at least recognize that their action is an important first step.

    Now, how about banning wood burning stoves?

  16. I don’t think people should be so quick to dismiss the council’s action – water bottles are becoming a serious environmental problem and the council’s action brings awareness to the problem and attempts to begin to change how society views the use of disposable bottles. The council should be commended for doing something that is very cheap, yet potentially effective, and somewhat ahead of the curve.

    Instead of criticizing the council for not fixing all of the world’s environmental problems, I think people should at least recognize that their action is an important first step.

    Now, how about banning wood burning stoves?

  17. wood burning stoves are roughly carbon-neutral (trees breathe in carbon dioxide, burning wood releases it), compared with the alternative of natural gas heating. of all the things on the agenda, i’d put them relatively low.

    the solar panel thing is a brilliant idea, and i hope the city council follows suit. come t think of it, putting an array of working solar panels on the never-functional solar panels in community park would generate a fair amount of energy, no?

  18. wood burning stoves are roughly carbon-neutral (trees breathe in carbon dioxide, burning wood releases it), compared with the alternative of natural gas heating. of all the things on the agenda, i’d put them relatively low.

    the solar panel thing is a brilliant idea, and i hope the city council follows suit. come t think of it, putting an array of working solar panels on the never-functional solar panels in community park would generate a fair amount of energy, no?

  19. wood burning stoves are roughly carbon-neutral (trees breathe in carbon dioxide, burning wood releases it), compared with the alternative of natural gas heating. of all the things on the agenda, i’d put them relatively low.

    the solar panel thing is a brilliant idea, and i hope the city council follows suit. come t think of it, putting an array of working solar panels on the never-functional solar panels in community park would generate a fair amount of energy, no?

  20. wood burning stoves are roughly carbon-neutral (trees breathe in carbon dioxide, burning wood releases it), compared with the alternative of natural gas heating. of all the things on the agenda, i’d put them relatively low.

    the solar panel thing is a brilliant idea, and i hope the city council follows suit. come t think of it, putting an array of working solar panels on the never-functional solar panels in community park would generate a fair amount of energy, no?

  21. Wood burning may be relatively carbon neutral but it is far from neutral when it comes to small particulates (PM 10, PM2.5, and smaller) that can lodge deep in our lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. According to the Sacramento Air Quality Management District, in winter months nearly half of the small particulate pollution comes from wood burning fireplaces. On average, a single, 24 hour fire in an open-hearth fireplace will release between 1.6 and 3.1 pounds of PM 10 particulate matter pollution. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds as well, including carbon monoxide and organic gases, some of which have shown cancer-causing properties. The small particulates released by wood burning create serious health problems and a number of health studies havae established a direct link elevated particulate levels and increases in death rates.

    Check out http://www.yolocleanair.org

  22. Wood burning may be relatively carbon neutral but it is far from neutral when it comes to small particulates (PM 10, PM2.5, and smaller) that can lodge deep in our lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. According to the Sacramento Air Quality Management District, in winter months nearly half of the small particulate pollution comes from wood burning fireplaces. On average, a single, 24 hour fire in an open-hearth fireplace will release between 1.6 and 3.1 pounds of PM 10 particulate matter pollution. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds as well, including carbon monoxide and organic gases, some of which have shown cancer-causing properties. The small particulates released by wood burning create serious health problems and a number of health studies havae established a direct link elevated particulate levels and increases in death rates.

    Check out http://www.yolocleanair.org

  23. Wood burning may be relatively carbon neutral but it is far from neutral when it comes to small particulates (PM 10, PM2.5, and smaller) that can lodge deep in our lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. According to the Sacramento Air Quality Management District, in winter months nearly half of the small particulate pollution comes from wood burning fireplaces. On average, a single, 24 hour fire in an open-hearth fireplace will release between 1.6 and 3.1 pounds of PM 10 particulate matter pollution. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds as well, including carbon monoxide and organic gases, some of which have shown cancer-causing properties. The small particulates released by wood burning create serious health problems and a number of health studies havae established a direct link elevated particulate levels and increases in death rates.

    Check out http://www.yolocleanair.org

  24. Wood burning may be relatively carbon neutral but it is far from neutral when it comes to small particulates (PM 10, PM2.5, and smaller) that can lodge deep in our lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. According to the Sacramento Air Quality Management District, in winter months nearly half of the small particulate pollution comes from wood burning fireplaces. On average, a single, 24 hour fire in an open-hearth fireplace will release between 1.6 and 3.1 pounds of PM 10 particulate matter pollution. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds as well, including carbon monoxide and organic gases, some of which have shown cancer-causing properties. The small particulates released by wood burning create serious health problems and a number of health studies havae established a direct link elevated particulate levels and increases in death rates.

    Check out http://www.yolocleanair.org

  25. I support the council’s first timid steps into banning the use of bottled water at city events, but they need to go much further. I would support a ban on the sale of all bottled water in Davis. What did we ever do before water appeared in bottles? We actually drank our own tap water and we used our own water from home in our own containers from home when we went to community or other events. Plastic water bottles are a huge problem environmentally and bottling water has become a huge profit machine for a few large corporations. Water belongs to us all, not companies like Nestles. Quit buying bottled water!

  26. I support the council’s first timid steps into banning the use of bottled water at city events, but they need to go much further. I would support a ban on the sale of all bottled water in Davis. What did we ever do before water appeared in bottles? We actually drank our own tap water and we used our own water from home in our own containers from home when we went to community or other events. Plastic water bottles are a huge problem environmentally and bottling water has become a huge profit machine for a few large corporations. Water belongs to us all, not companies like Nestles. Quit buying bottled water!

  27. I support the council’s first timid steps into banning the use of bottled water at city events, but they need to go much further. I would support a ban on the sale of all bottled water in Davis. What did we ever do before water appeared in bottles? We actually drank our own tap water and we used our own water from home in our own containers from home when we went to community or other events. Plastic water bottles are a huge problem environmentally and bottling water has become a huge profit machine for a few large corporations. Water belongs to us all, not companies like Nestles. Quit buying bottled water!

  28. I support the council’s first timid steps into banning the use of bottled water at city events, but they need to go much further. I would support a ban on the sale of all bottled water in Davis. What did we ever do before water appeared in bottles? We actually drank our own tap water and we used our own water from home in our own containers from home when we went to community or other events. Plastic water bottles are a huge problem environmentally and bottling water has become a huge profit machine for a few large corporations. Water belongs to us all, not companies like Nestles. Quit buying bottled water!