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Sustainability plan gets a big yes

A sustainability plan for the city of Lake Oswego was adopted 'unanimously and with enthusiasm' by the city council at its meeting on Nov. 20.

There was plenty of ambition, too, for a plan that sets goals for 5, 10 and 20 years down the road; ultimately, zero greenhouse gas emissions and using 100 percent renewable energy by 2027.

'It's an excellent plan,' said Duke Castle of Oregon Natural Step, which serves as the framework for the city plan. 'It's comprehensive. I like the short-term actions that lead to long-term goals. This should be a filter for everything (the city council) looks at.'

Mayor Judie Hammerstad and the city councilors could not have been more emphatic in their support of the new plan.

'The sustainability movement has moved way past biodiesel fuels,' said Hammerstad. 'Everything you do you should ask, 'How much waste am I creating?' If we get to that point we can truly be effective.

'I'm glad so many people are now coming to the sustainability party, who want to lead a sustainable life but don't know how.'

'The city of Portland has been a leader on sustainability. We can be a bigger leader,' said Councilor Frank Groznik. 'I think we are ready to go into the community and make this a way of living in Lake Oswego.'

'There's no doubt in my mind that we should support this,' said Councilor Roger Hennagin.

The adoption of the sustainability plan is the culmination of an action taken five years ago when the city first set goals for sustainability. Last year the city council appointed a sustainability steering committee filled with staffers from all departments of the city.

Steadily since 2002, the city has been adopting sustainable practices, and a key recent action was the hiring of Kevin McCaleb as specialist on water use, truly a crucial area in attaining sustainability. The new plan calls for flattening water consumption, reducing city water use and adopting new irrigation technology.

Councilor John Turchi urged 'a conversation with the community' about water use.

'There's the possibility of bigger, more energy-consuming houses and we need to know if we're getting a beneficial result,' Turchi said. 'I believe we don't charge enough for water. We should leave more in the rivers and streams. That would create the desired effect we're looking for.'

Councilor Donna Jordan noted that to be effective the plan requires a big contribution from the citizens of Lake Oswego.

'It's not going to be one major thing that turns this around,' Jordan said. 'It will be a matter of everyone doing small things. It will be an educational process.'

A key part of the educational process will be the creation of a sustainability advisory board. However, the council is delaying approval of such a board until more research comes in about what kind of SAB would be best for Lake Oswego.

'A sustainability advisory board is the next logical step,' testified Craig Diamond, chairman of the Natural Resources Advisory Board. 'There is a lot of public interest in being part of a SAB. The time is good to establish a permanent body, not a temporary one.'

'I completely support a SAB,' Groznik said. 'The city needs to lead with our actions, and it needs to move forward very quickly.'

However, the majority of the councilors believe some caution will help. Council Kristin Johnson expressed worry about such a board being too large, while Jordan wants to make sure that all of the stakeholders, including the school district and chamber of commerce, are on board.

'We would like this to come back to us in a month or so,' Hammerstad said. 'We need to beef it up and make it more serious.'

Jonna Papaefthimiou, natural resources planner for the city, will be working with interim City Manager Stephan Lashbrook and NRAB to pull together proposals for a SAB over the next couple months. Papaefthimiou said a presentation will be made to the city council in January or February of 2008.