Sustainable Saratoga has always held the strong belief that our city government should be focused on sustainability issues. We welcome the City’s efforts to update their Charter and recently advocated that the revised City Charter should not only mention sustainability, but also clearly indicate who in City Hall has the responsibility for tackling sustainability issues. Vice-Chairman of the Board Bill Boehmke gave the following statement to the City’s Charter Review Commission on August 21, 2018. Please take the time to express your own views to the Charter Review Commission.
STATEMENT FOR COMMUNITY FORUM ON DRAFT CITY CHARTER
TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2018
We have read the new draft City Charter, and we hope that the Charter Review Commission will incorporate all critical recommendations that the public brings forth at this hearing. Sustainable Saratoga did not take a position on the draft charter proposed by the previous Charter Review Commission, and we are also not taking a position on this current draft of the City Charter. However, we applaud any effort to keep the City Charter up-to-date, so that our government remains in a strong position to address current and future community needs – especially the need to make our city more sustainable.
Issues of sustainability didn’t receive much attention anywhere decades ago, so it’s understandable that they weren’t reflected in earlier versions of our City Charter. But in recent years, as Saratoga Springs has continued to grow, sustainability has played an increasingly central part in the way businesses operate and people conduct their lives. As you know, our organization works on a wide variety of issues relating to sustainability. Our efforts have frequently been stymied by the lack of a clear delineation of which department(s) were responsible for sustainability-related issues. We believe that our city government also should be focused on sustainability issues, and that any new City Charter should clearly indicate who in City Hall has the responsibility for tackling them.
The City’s Comprehensive Plan calls for a number of important sustainability policies and initiatives. However, in our review of the draft Charter, we found no references to sustainability or responsibilities assigned for:
- Street trees, and other trees owned or controlled by the City
- Housing, especially affordable housing
- Energy conservation and renewable energy sources
- Environmental protection
- Climate change and resiliency planning
- Recycling and waste reduction
- Multimodal transportation planning
We strongly believe that sustainability in general, and these issues in particular, should be addressed in the proposed Charter, and that the departments and staff responsible for sustainability functions should be clearly identified. In addition, because many sustainability issues require new interdisciplinary approaches, we hope that the Charter will provide clear guidance for the effective coordination of sustainability efforts among all City departments. Thank you for your time.