Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ask your local officials

Curious to see if anyone at the Marin County offices of Planning and Community Development had any inside knowledge about preparation for climate change, I entered the Frank Lloyd Wright designed edifice and acted like the curious but concerned citizen that I am. I'd already reviewed what was on the County's Web site as the Sustainability Team portal. Some people, at least, had read the 1998 IPCC report, and there are programs in place meant to reduce the County's overall ecological footprint (currently at about 21 acres per capita - slightly lower than the U.S. national average of about 23) but there was no mention of sea level rise in spite of our having over 50 miles of coastline and segments of our main highway lying just above today's sea level.

I had conversations with managers in both the Planning and Community Development offices. The fellow in Planning expressed a little embarrassment that nothing was included in the most recent County Plan dealing with the future potential of flooding from a rising SF Bay. He felt some confidence that the issue would soon be addressed in some way.

"Would the initiative be most likely to come down from the state government, seeing as how all of California's coast would be at risk?" I asked.

Probably more likely the opposite, was his guess. That the counties would have to bring the issue up to the state and put it in their laps.

In the Community Development office, I engaged a nice young guy who wanted to assure me that there were green building codes and efforts to reduce emissions at the county level. It took me a while to get the point made that I wasn't looking for mitigation actions, but for preparedness. He had no idea. Right now, approval for building a house at 2 feet above sea level would not be affected at all by future projections of sea level rise. It's just not in the computer yet.

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