Sunday, January 13, 2008

Week 1; or, the Week of Acting Locally

Today wraps up my first week as Charlottesville Mayor -- you can hear the audio account of Monday's Mayoral election here or read the text version here.

It's been a busy week.

Particularly exciting have been all the steps we've taken this week on the environmental front. On Monday, Council gave the green light (pun intended) to the boldest green-building tax incentive program in the state; we adopted a 50% recycling rate goal for the City (up from approx. 38% today); we agreed to launch an ambitious public education/outreach campaign on energy conservation & energy efficiency, including the distribution of thousands of donated CFL bulbs and the raffling off of 20 home energy audits; we decided to explore the idea of leasing City rooftops for third-party renewable energy generation via solar photovoltaic panels; we gave our thumbs up to the latest set of recommendations from the Metropolitan Planning Organization regarding far-reaching expansions in our public transportation system; and we announced that Charlottesville had won a corporate award (and Kristel Riddervold, our Environmental Administrator, had won her own individual award) for our efforts to reduce pollutant run-off into the Chesapeake Bay. On Tuesday I went to Richmond to personally submit our Clean Energy Resolution into the record as the State Corporation Commission accepted public comment on a proposed new coal-fired power plant in Wise County. At a work session on Thursday, Council agreed to move forward on the development of a sustainable stormwater management program for the City that will help us get a much better handle on stormwater runoff, stream protection and water quality issues, and provide substantial incentives for property owners to adopt innovative stormwater management practices like green roofs, permeable paving, swales, rain gardens, rain barrels, etc. We also celebrated the launch of two new green-oriented websites this week (Better World Betty and Charlottesville's "Green City" Page), and I got a personal tour from Roger Voisinet of several new green-built City homes (including 104 Chisholm Place and the ecoMOD3).

Now, I'm not trying to take credit for any of these things (all of them were in the works well before my becoming Mayor), and it's largely happenstance that so many positive and interesting eco-friendly initiatives got started or moved forward during my first week in the Mayor's seat. But it is heartening to know that this Council -- and, more importantly, this community we call home -- is willing (if not eager) to move beyond the green rhetoric and actually do what it takes to make this a truly Green City. (Maiaoming makes a similar point here.) I look forward to seeing us take many more such steps in the months and years to come!

1 comment:

Lonnie said...

I'm very excited to see all these initiatives. I also hope the county decides to follow the Charlottesville's good example.

That said, the sustainability accords have been out there quite a while and we still haven't fully met them yet. The proof of any great initiative is how well it is put into action. Therefore, I'm most pleased that we are finally seeing more action to back up these good words, and I'll look forward to seeing more of that in the near future!