Carlsbad Wins Sustainability Award


Lisa Cornwall

The Beacon Spotlight Award plaque that was presented to the City of Carlsbad on Sept. 15th and is now on display at City Hall.

Carlsbad has maintained a reputation for environmental protection and sustainability, and was recently recognized for their efforts on Sept. 15th at the League of California Cities’ annual conference with a Beacon Spotlight Award.

Carlsbad earned the award for a program involving the protection of open green space. The city’s environmentally conscious growth management plan, along with its climate action plan that lowers greenhouses, displays Carlsbad’s consistent commitment  to the protection and security of our environment.

The award was presented by the Institute for Local Government, an organization that provides resources to support local governments in California, and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC), an alliance to support California cities and counties in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy.

One of the main reasons Carlsbad received the spotlight award was the city’s dedication to protecting open space.  

“When all the major new development in the city is complete, at least 38 percent of the city will be open space,” according to the Carlsbad website.

This new open space will be due to Carlsbad’s growth management plan which zones each bit of land in Carlsbad for a certain purpose― residential development, stores and shopping centers, visitor/commercial development, or open space. With these “zones” implemented, the community will be able to have new development without compromising the protected green space or quality of life in Carlsbad.

Another aspect of Carlsbad’s growth management plan is that before any development can happen, developers must make sure certain nearby quality of life standards are met. These include the construction and maintenance of city facilities, drainage, sewer collection, open space, libraries, parks, and more. This helps make sure current developments and open space is well maintained before new developments can be built.

Carlsbad’s efforts to maintain its open space zones is a direct influence of the vast number of diverse species in the city.

“San Diego county is the most biodiverse county in the entire lower 48th of the United States,” said Kris Alberts, co-owner of Blackhawk Environmental, an environmental consulting company for San Diego County that specializes in preserving habitats for endangered species from financial group land takeover.

“[Open space is] important because it provides linkages from coastal areas to areas further out east and other less developed parts of the county. It is creating a place for animals to thrive,” Alberts said.

Open space is not only beneficial for wildlife but also for the community as a whole.

“[I live] in Escondido, which is one of the cities in San Diego that has the smallest amount of green space, the city has seen [it reflect] on students who grow up in the area…they don’t experience nature,”biology teacher Courtney Goode said.

The other main program conducive to Carlsbad winning the Spotlight award, was the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The program was implemented in 2015 and aims to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city along with requiring environmental reviews of all development projects.

Mike Grim, CAP administrator for the city, collaborates with companies such as CleanTech San Diego, to ensure safe environmental procedures.

According to Grim, the city of Carlsbad also took steps in the early 2000’s to measure our greenhouse gas emissions, after decades of neglecting the statistic entirely. As a result, neighboring cities are starting to following suit, measuring the gases emissions in order to then diminish the levels in the upcoming future.

“I would say we are more successful at environmental sustainability than other neighboring cities, thanks to our natural terrain, as opposed to Oceanside and Encinitas,” Grim said.

The team heading CAP is  aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by climate adaptation. Carlsbad will attempt to actively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by both sucking out the carbon from the atmosphere and by trying to help citizens reduce emissions. These actions will both reverse current environmental damage as well as preventing further harm.

“I’m not very surprised by Carlsbad winning the award; the city has always been pretty progressive in setting aside open space for as long as I have been in the business, they have always been at the forefront of ‘common sense’ development practices.” Alberts said.

Goode commented on how the younger generation should care about protecting the local environment.

“Youth these days aren’t experiencing nature as much as they should so preserving the opportunity for that to happen is  something that I think the city should be really proud of,” Goode said.