Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
February 8, 2017
A biweekly newsletter of the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative

Last week the Local Government Commission hosted the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. We were excited to gather with so many practitioners committed to building sustainable, equitable communities all around urban and rural America, share ideas, and learn about exciting new solutions and tools. Local communities offer a fantastic opportunity to make a difference, whether it's reducing the urban heat island, building affordable housing, or engaging more deeply with all communities.

We'd also like to extend a warm welcome to the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative's newest members, the University of California at Davis and the American River Parkway Foundation. We look forward to working with you toward building a resilient Capital Region! 
Winter storms are a glimpse of California's challenges with sea-level rise
Rising sea levels are worsening the floods and high tides are sweeping California this stormy winter, climate experts say, with 34-foot high waves, five casualties, and evacuations around the state. A 2009 study by the Pacific Institute estimated $100 billion in property was at risk from sea level rise, two-thirds of it in the San Francisco Bay Area. The real cost of raising, shielding or evacuating vulnerable infrastructure, which includes mass-transit systems, power plants and sewage plants, could be far higher. Yet state and local governments would find it challenging to raise the billions needed to protect low-lying highways and other resources. ( ABC)
Pines and conifers struggle to recover after high-intensity wildfires
Forests charred by high-severity wildfires are struggling to recover, according to a UC Davis and U.S. Forest Service survey of 1,500 plots across 10 national forests in central and Northern California. The study found that pines and other conifers did not regenerate in 43 percent of the burned areas five to 11 years post-fire. Instead, the landscape often converts to a shrub-dominated ecosystem, which is more prone to burning and can create a feedback loop for additional wildfires. The study authors created a tool that allows forest managers to estimate with 70 to 80 percent certainty the extent to which conifers will naturally regenerate in the first few years post-fire, to help forest managers guide decisions to thin, plant or do other forest restoration activities to stimulate forest recovery. ( Link)
Urban parks are not luxuries; they are essential infrastructure for 21st century cities
Nearly 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, and increasingly, many cities are challenged by aging water and transportation systems that are nearing or exceeding their designed capacity. A new focus on resilience to flooding and other natural disasters is leading city planners to consider "mixed-use" infrastructure. Urban parks are a prime example of mixed use as they can grow local economies, increase property values, improve health, and address key challenges of transportation, stormwater management and access to recreation. For example, Atlanta saved $16 million by constructing a water-retention pond to mitigate flooding, rather than tunneling and installing a single-use network of pipes, while Philadelphia will invest $2 billion in parks and green infrastructure to capture 85 percent of the city's stormwater runoff, leading to green jobs and also saving billions that would otherwise be spent on underground pipes and tunnels. ( Governing)
Proper infrastructure investment must account for climate change 
Photo: Getty Images
In the last ten years, the federal government has spent over $320 billion to repair federal facilities and infrastructure from damage caused by extreme weather. Building resiliently is, at minimum, the fiscally prudent thing to do. According to a recent World Bank study, the added cost of building infrastructure resilient to a changing environment pays off in the long run if done correctly.  When disasters do happen, like another Superstorm Sandy, every $1 dollar spent on building resilient will save us $4 in damages. (  The Hill)
Flood insurance program reform can improve finances and public resilience 
Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer
A national coalition of insurers and environmental groups has developed a reform proposal to modernize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) while reducing public exposure to flood risks. The plan by calls for the NFIP to use cutting-edge technology that would more precisely determine flood-prone areas, and to price flood insurance premiums in accordance with those specific risks. Other measures would include greater involvement by private insurers in the flood insurance market and offering incentives for communities to enhance and restore natural buffers against floods, such as wetlands and forests. The NFIP's authorization is set to expire in September and is $24.6 billion in debt. ( Reuters)
City planning and infrastructure must change in four years to limit climate change
It may be too late to limit global warming to scientifically guided limits if the infrastructure built in the next four years is constructed along the same lines as currently planned, warned C40 Climate Leaders in a report Deadline 2020. Building high-carbon infrastructure - from transport systems predicated on motor car use, to new coal-fired power plants, and buildings that leak energy - effectively "locks in" a future of GHG emissions likely to exceed safe thresholds. The report lays out a road map for achieving the Paris Agreement, outlining the pace, scale, and prioritization of actions needed by cities over the next five years - in fact, cities acting alone could deliver half of the carbon reductions to meet Paris goals. ( Guardian, Wired)
Case Studies and Examples
Building the case for green infrastructure to increase business resilience 
Photo: Beth Maynor Young 2010
Experts from Dow, Shell, Swiss Re, and Unilever, working with The Nature Conservancy, evaluated business case studies and developed a white paper recommending that green and hybrid infrastructure solutions should become part of the standard toolkit for modern engineers. Evaluating both green and gray infrastructure, the authors concluded that hybrid approaches may provide an optimum solution to a variety of shocks and improve overall business resilience against disruptive events such as mechanical failure, power interruption, raw material price increases, and floods. This joint-industry effort will continue to explore and develop tools to better evaluate green versus gray solutions, with the aim to better understand under what circumstances green infrastructure is a cost-effective investment. ( Nature Conservancy)
Santa Monica pioneers rule requiring new buildings to be zero net energy
Santa Monica has approved a mandate requiring that all new single-family homes qualify as "zero net energy" (ZNE) and consume only as much energy as they produce. The rule is the first of its kind in California, which has just 17 ZNE buildings so far, with 91 working toward that target. In addition, Santa Monica will also require that non-residential construction be designed to use 10 percent less energy than is required by the 2016 CalGREEN Building Code. The rule is part of Santa Monica's goal to become climate neutral by 2050. Santa Monica also mandates 1.5 watts of solar per square foot of building size on single-family homes and 2 watts per square foot for multifamily, commercial and institutional structures. ( Link)
Tools and Resources
EPA: Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience
Municipalities are seeking ways to adapt to climate change impacts to better protect lives and property and ensure they can continue to offer a good quality of life and a thriving economy. This report can help local government officials, staff, and boards find strategies to prepare for climate change impacts through land use and building policies. It provides a collection of strategies that can be worked into a community's regular processes and policies-for example, through scheduled updates to zoning and building codes. This approach allows incremental change, while the policy options bring multiple short- and long-term environmental, economic, health, and societal benefits. ( EPA)
Institute on Science for Global Policy and Sacramento State - Water and Fire: Impacts of Climate Change
The Institute on Science for Global Policy in partnership with Sacramento State hosted the "Water and Fire: Impacts of Climate Change" conference in April 2016. This report synthesizes the results of the conference, including position papers, discussion results, and areas of consensus on actionable next steps. This was Sacramento State's first engagement on climate change; look forward for more from the university in the coming year. ( Link)
Upcoming Opportunities
Survey: Overcoming Financial and Organizational Barriers to Local Adaptation
As part of a research project for California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment, we are requesting your input through an online survey to better understand the financial barriers and challenges faced by local governments in implementing climate change adaptation measures. If you work in local government and perform activities related to researching, planning, financing, convening stakeholders for, and/or implementing adaptation activities, we hope that you can take 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to share your experience and insights. ( Link)
Travel support awards now available for the National Adaptation Forum
Travel support to attend the National Adaptation Forum (May 9-11) in St. Paul, MN, is available in limited quantities and will be awarded via a competitive review process. Eligible applicants include staff from state, county and municipal government, tribal, non-profit organizations, community leaders, and university students working on or studying climate change adaptation. There are five tiers of Travel Support available depending on your travel needs. ( Link)
Comments requested: Draft California Forest Carbon Plan
Many Californian forests are in a state of deteriorating health, at risk of catastrophic wildfires and becoming a net carbon emitter. The California Forest Carbon Plan seeks to reverse these trends and firmly establish our forests as a more resilient and reliable long-term carbon sink. The Plan provides strategies to promote healthy wildland and urban forests and emphasizes working collaboratively at the watershed or landscape scale. The Plan will be the detailed implementation plan for the forest carbon goals in the 2030 Target Scoping Plan and the mechanism for addressing black carbon emissions from wildfire. Deadline: February 23. ( Link)
Comments requested: Draft Scoping Plan Update
The Air Resources Board's 2030 Scoping Plan Update establishes a proposed framework of action for California to reduce GHGs 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The Proposed Plan is designed to continue to shift the California economy away from dependence on fossil fuels to a thriving sustainable future that delivers continued economic growth, job generation, and a wide range of environmental benefits to all communities. The key programs in the proposed plan include cap and trade; the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; much cleaner cars, trucks and freight movement; renewable energy; and reducing methane emissions from agricultural and other wastes. It also comprehensively addresses for the first time GHG emissions from natural and working lands, including the agriculture and forestry sectors. Deadline: March 6. ( ARB)
Contribute to best practices library for California's Adaptation Clearinghouse
The Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is tasked with developing the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program, which includes an Adaptation Clearinghouse that will contain a library of case studies. We'd like to ask for your help in populating the case study library and to highlight the great work you are all doing. Specifically, we are looking for 1- to 5-page case study write-ups that highlight a project, program, or policy that might be considered a best practice in the realm of adaptation. Please contact Great Soos ( if you are interested; OPR is able to offer assistance in writing and editing the case study. ( OPR)
Drought Resiliency Projects and Drought Contingency Planning Grants
The Drought Resiliency Projects aim to increase the reliability of water supply, improve exchange of water, and provide benefits of fish, wildlife, and the environment to mitigate the impacts caused by drought (up to $750,000 per award). The Drought Contingency Planning Grants seek to support collaborative planning efforts that use a proactive approach to build long-term resiliency to drought (up to $200,000 per award). Applications due February 14, 2017.
Advancing Health Equity Awards 2017: Highlighting Health Equity Practice in California Public Health Departments
This award will recognize and support innovative local public health department work that strives to achieve health equity. It will profile unique examples of work that go beyond the traditional scope of public health department programs and show promise of making significant progress in reducing health inequities. The most compelling example of work will receive an award of $100,000, while three health departments demonstrating promising practices will receive additional awards of $25,000. Public health departments are invited to submit applications by 5pm on February 21, 2017. ( Link)
Provide input on Statewide Housing Assessment
In January, the California Department of Housing and Community Development released the public draft of "California's Housing Future: Challenges and Opportunities," the 2025 Statewide Housing Assessment. There will be public workshops in Oakland (Feb 17) and Redding (Feb 24), or you can submit comments to until March 4, 2017. ( Link)
CEC's Local Government Challenge for climate action planning and energy innovation
The California Energy Commission is awarding $10.2 million to local governments to help them achieve their climate and energy goals. The $3 million Small Government Leadership Challenge will help cities of 150,000 people or less to design or implement climate action plans or other planning efforts to reduce GHG emissions. Cities that already have climate action plans can apply for the Energy Innovation Challenge, which has $7.2 million for innovative programs that improve energy efficiency and reduce building energy use. The projects should serve as an example for other local governments. For both grants, preference points will be given to projects implemented in or benefiting disadvantaged communities. Deadline March 6, 5pm. ( CEC)
USDA Rural Development: Community Connect Grants
The program helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sector providers to deliver service. Grant funds may be used to deploy service to critical community facilities, residents and businesses; construct, acquire, or expand a community center; and equip a community center that provides free access to service to community residents. Rural areas that lack any existing broadband speed of at least 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream are eligible. Deadline March 13, 2017. ( USDA)
Upcoming Events
Webinar: Incorporating climate solutions into day-to-day adaptation
Thursday, February 9, 9-10.15am PST
Participants will learn how to approach development, financing, and implementation of climate adaptation strategies across all municipal planning activities. The webinar will cover how to incorporate adaptation thinking into day-to-day municipal processes, incorporate climate preparedness strategies into a comprehensive master plan, and develop measurable benchmarks for assessing progress towards adaptation and mitigation objectives. Speakers will come from the cities of Baltimore, MD, and Keene, NH. ( Register)
Yolo Climate Compact: Landfill gasification and net metering
Friday, February 10, 9-11am
Yolo County Building, 600 A Street, Davis 
Staff from Sierra Energy will describe their gasification technology and its potential to eliminate landfills. They will also discuss their efforts to establish and grow an "innovation park" to stimulate growth of other technology companies in our area. Richard McCann, a consultant with deep knowledge of the energy industry, will discuss recent changes to net energy metering and their implications for residential solar photovoltaics in Yolo County and elsewhere in California. (Contact:
Vision Zero, Transit First: Shaping Transportation in San Francisco
Friday, February 10, 1.40-3pm, 1605 Tilia Street, Room 1103, West Village, UC Davis
This latest seminar from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies will review the evolution of San Francisco's sustainable transportation policy. Changing a city's traffic and transit systems requires innovative design and planning, sustained attention to public finances, and frequent tradeoffs. The city's vision of sustainable transportation has evolved to encompass livability, urban design, and safety. Can it continue to evolve to meet current demands for greater equity, and the pressures of disruptive technological change? ( Webinar
CivicSpark 2017-18 Project Partner Informational Webinar
Feb 15, March 3, March 8, or March 17
CivicSpark is a Governor's Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local governments to address climate change and water resource management issues. Each year, 70 fellows serve for 11 months, implementing projects related to water resource management, climate change mitigation, and adaptation. CivicSpark helps local governments build capacity by working directly with local staff or in the community. Join the webinar to learn more about being a project partner, program structure, application process, and local match costs. ( Webinar, CivicSpark)
Webinar: Let's Talk Communities and Climate
Thursday, February 16, 10-11am 
Created specifically for local leaders, EcoAmerica's Let's Talk Communities and Climate guide incorporates research-tested words, phrases, and messaging to help you effectively engage your stakeholders and residents on climate solutions. Ralph Becker, former Mayor of Salt Lake City, will present as a guest speaker. Participants will learn how to craft messages for your particular audience via a stepwise process and gain a deeper understanding of how local leaders can engage their communities on climate solutions. ( Register)
Registration Open for Business of Local Energy Symposium
Friday, May 5, Hyatt Regency Long Beach
Join government, business, and community leaders from across the state to accelerate California's shift to a clean energy economy. Don't miss this opportunity to network, exchange ideas about Community Choice Energy programs, and learn about energy policy, regulations, markets, and technology. Use CRC's discount code BLE17CRC to receive a 10% discount off registration! ( Learn more or register)
About the Capital Region Climate  Readiness  Collaborative
The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Capital Region.

The CRC is a program of the Local Government Commission.