MINUTES FOR THE CONSERVATION AND CLIMATE OUTREACH COMMISSION
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Held Electronically via Zoom
1. Call to Order (item starts at 0:45 on video)
The meeting was called to order at 6:02 p.m. by Chair Rebecca Walker. Commissioners Risa Buck, Larry Cooper, Marni Koopman, James McGinnis, Jamie Rosenthal, and Bryan Sohl were present. Council liaison Stef Seffinger and staff liaison Stu Green were also present. Commissioner Steve Mitzel was absent.
2. Consent Agenda (1:11)
2.1. July 22, 2020 Meeting Minutes
McGinnis/Buck moved/seconded to approve the minutes. Further discussion: none. All ayes. Motion passed unanimously.
3. Announcements (2:24)
3.1. Next Regular Meeting: September 23
Walker announced the next meeting. Sohl stated that he would be on a trip to the Grand Canyon and would be unable to attend. McGinnis also said he might be unable to attend as well.
3.2. Upcoming Subcommittee Meetings
3.3. Other Announcements from Commissioners
4. Public Forum
No public forum was submitted for this meeting.
5.1. Council Update (4:20)
Seffinger gave a brief update on the previous and upcoming Council meeting. McGinnis asked about a possible merger between Conservation and Climate Outreach Commission (CCOC) and the Climate Policy Commission (CPC). Seffinger stated that Council has not really talked about merging the Commissions, but there has been interest expressed by staff.
5.2. Staff Update (8:10)
Green expanded on the merger of the Commissions and stated that there is an opportunity to combine the two, but no formal discussions have occurred. McGinnis stated that if the merger becomes a topic for Council the CCOC could write a letter of their thoughts. Cooper expressed dismay in it being difficult to talk to CPC. Walker mentioned that working with CPC is important, but also is reaching out to the other Commissions. Seffinger stated that when developing policy, you want to be sure that the outreach of it is realistic and those in charge of outreach feel connected to that. There are also budget and staffing issues and issues with how this commission interacts with other commission in terms of time and goals of the CEAP. CCOC was feeling that they were not as connected to policy as they would like to be.
Green continued with his staff report highlighting the following:
- The City was awarded a $50,000 grant from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to expand electric vehicle (EV) programs in October or November. This will include a new electric bike incentive and a revised vehicle incentive.
- An AmeriCorps intern has been hired to work on specific outreach projects for CEAP and will be on for 11 months. The work will be presented to CCOC for feedback when available.
- Green has applied for a $10 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would allow for energy retrofits to buildings within Ashland. This loan would allow for residents to borrow money for retrofits and pay the loan back on their utility bill.
- Public EV charging will be expanded at the Pioneer parking lot. The amount of EV chargers will be doubled and the current ones replaced with more efficient chargers.
- Two Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) grants are being looked at to apply. One would be in conjuncture with Southern Oregon University (SOU) and the other would be for biosolids for the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Cooper was interested in learning more about the biosolids and requested Green send the information to the Commission when available.
McGinnis asked how long would the EV grant last. Green said mainly the money is earmarked for 70 incentives for vehicles and 50 incentives for e-bikes. McGinnis asked if this grant could be used for the bike share that is currently not functioning. Green stated that this is a different project that the grant was based on and the bike share will not be redone until 2021 due to the bankruptcy of the company and loss of money. There are some communities in Oregon who are trying to make an intercity bike share which Ashland is interested in joining.
6. Old Business
6.1. Commission Monthly Column in Sneak Preview (24:41)
- Discuss Future Articles or Change in Format
Green stated that he was unsure of if the Sneak Preview slot is still available and suggested looking at other channels for putting the articles and content out. Walker suggested SOU and social media as other venues. Buck expressed interest in staying with the Sneak Preview and stated she would reach out to the editor about the space. Koopman asked if there could be reader statistics on the Sneak Preview. Buck stated she would also ask about this when speaking to the editor.
Green also stated the Commission should look at the CCOC webpage for previous articles. Walker asked for new ideas which included:
- Cooper and Koopman volunteered to write an article on pandemic pollution issues (e.g. disposal able, synthetic masks used instead of cloth masks; focusing on going back to reusables instead of disposables. This would be ready for the next meeting.
- Buck wanted to write another Rogue to Go article possibly for the fall or when the program data is available.
- Walker wanted to write an article in the future on the value of the pandemic like connection to nature and people.
- Buck asked if Rosenthal could write an article about any changes to recycling and if there will be a rescheduled hazardous waste event. Rosenthal stated that the event would be set up for October 17 and could do an article ready for next meeting. Buck will ask about the deadline for the October issue when she asks about the space.
Walker suggested that in the next two weeks everyone emails a title with details to staff or the Chair to help add to the list.
6.2. New Meeting Time and Date Discussion (49:40)
• Preferred dates/times from February meeting: 4th Wednesday or 4th Monday; 3 to 5 p.m., 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., or 6 to 8 p.m.
Discussion surrounded keeping the meeting at the same time, one of the suggested or a new date or time. After discussion, Buck/McGinnis moved/seconded that the Conservation and Climate Outreach Commission changes its meeting to 3 to 5 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday. Further discussion: none. All ayes. Motion passed unanimously.
7. New Business
7.1. CEAP Review and Three Projects (59:10)
Walker asked to go around and have each Commissioner announce their outreach projects they would like to take on in relation to the Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP).
- Cooper wanted to take on looking at the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of the construction and operation of the Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants. This would include engaging Council and Public Works staff for more of a city-wide discussion about climate change and the future of city water rates and water conservation into planning of the plants operation and design.
- Cooper also suggested working on water conservation projects. Buck is also interested in working on water conservation projects like laundry to landscape and greywater catchment.
- Buck wanted to continue with the single-use items ban. Rosenthal was interested in this as well.
- Sohl was also interested in water issues, but also how to engage citizens in CEAP education.
- Koopman expanded on Sohl’s project wanting to start up former Commissioner Marion Moore’s work by using virtual meetings to do so. She specifically stated using CEAP to help get people off Natural Gas. Rosenthal was interested in this as well.
- Walker wanted to focus on the Urban Transportation section of CEAP. That would include looking at different plans for bike and pedestrian transport and combining them to make a more bike and pedestrian friendly area.
- Walker also would like to see virtual outreach for responsible consumption and revisiting single use ban.
- McGinnis was interested in becoming a liaison for CPC. Green stated that the communication is best to go through staff (same staff liaison) or to attend each other’s meeting with the standing Other Commissions agenda item.
- Based on Seffinger’s suggestion, McGinnis talked about infill and parking in residential and closing down parts of downtown to pedestrian only traffic which could be done through a survey to the business owners currently participating.
Sohl asked about Ashland School District (ASD) representative not attending and staff will follow up with Steve Mitzel and ASD to see what the issue might be.
Walker summarized the above points and asked everyone to send her a list of specific projects from the points to discuss and approve next meeting.
8. Wrap Up (1:48:00)
8.1. Items to be added to future agendas
- Letter to City Council Regarding Clean Fuel Credits (TBD)
Buck requested to have an update on the bag ban Ordinance and enforcement at the next meeting. Cooper asked that Julie Smitherman, Water Conservation Analyst, be invited to the October meeting to present water conservation plans and implementation. McGinnis asked Seffinger if there will be a change in Council liaisons. Seffinger responded not until the new year with the new Council. Chair Walker adjourned the meeting at 7:58 p.m.