La Mesans Demand an Effective Climate Action Plan

By Joan Raphael

La Mesa residents in the audience hold signs showing support for a strong Climate Action Plan

La Mesa residents in the audience of the Planning Commision hearing hold signs provided by SD350 to show support for a strong Climate Action Plan.

On Wednesday, June 3, concerned citizens came together at a hearing of the La Mesa Planning Commission to press for a stronger Climate Action Plan (CAP). Many of those who came to speak were volunteers with SD350. The hearing turned out to be an uplifting reminder of what regular folks working together can achieve.

California’s cities are creating Climate Action Plans, following executive orders from Governors Brown and Schwartzenegger to comply with state targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions pursuant to provisions in the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). Citizens at the hearing noted that La Mesa’s draft CAP includes no fixed timelines or mechanisms to quantify reduced emissions, and relies largely on promoting voluntary measures such as installation of solar power by individuals and businesses.

Nicole Capretz speaks

Climate Action Campaign’s Nicole Capretz speaks to the La Mesa Planning Commission about the legal hazards of an inadequate Climate Action Plan.

Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of Climate Action Campaign, who developed the City of San Diego’s highly praised CAP, added support to the SD350 volunteers’ and other La Mesans’ voices.  She pointed out that the La Mesa draft-CAP’s lack of measurable, enforceable provisions and timeline for implementation renders the city vulnerable to expensive and time-wasting legal challenges of its CAP.

Volunteers from SanDiego350, speaking on their own behalf as citizens of La Mesa, added that the city could learn from the legal troubles of San Diego County and SANDAG, who were sued in court and lost because of the inadequacies of their CAP.  They urged the Planning Commission to craft a CAP that would not siphon taxpayer dollars away from services and would be a genuine effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

La Mesan Angela Deegan encouraged the commissioners to aim for 100 percent clean energy by offering Community  Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), also called Community Choice Energy.  CCA would allow the City of La Mesa to   procure electricity generated from renewable sources and deliver it through existing transmission lines.  Community residents and businesses would have the choice of buying electricity from a La Mesa CCA or from the utility.  Deegan emphasized that with CCA, La Mesa can achieve higher greenhouse gas reduction goals and also provide more competition in the local energy market, giving consumers a choice they don’t now have.

Co-organizers of SD350 volunteers, Jean Costa and Angela Deegan stand with Masada outside La Mesa Council Chambers before the start of the hearing.

SD350 volunteers and La Mesans Jean Costa, Masada Disenhouse and Angela Deegan (l-r) preview the messages they will deliver to the city’s Planning Commission.

Masada Disenhouse, co-founder of SanDiego350, noted that Governor Brown has issued a new executive order increasing the state’s emissions goal to 40 percent below 1990 by 2030.  (The previous goal had an extended target date of 2050.)  Disenhouse concluded, “The Governor’s recent executive order sends a clear message: We need to act boldly today.”

After all the speakers had voiced their concerns, the commissioners voted unanimously to send the draft Climate Action Plan back to staff for reconsideration in light of the information provided at that evening’s hearing.  While this is clearly a small victory for citizen action, the battle for a strong La Mesa Climate Action Plan has not yet been won.

The CAP hearing opened with Margaret Meade’s inspirational words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  In closing, Commissioner Jim Newland praised the citizen speakers for their participation in the democratic process.  La Mesans, it is clear, will be watching to see that their new Climate Action Plan does indeed pass muster.


Guest blogger Joan Raphael is a Youth Services Librarian for the City of San Diego. She hopes that the kids she has seen grown up will have a better future because climate change has been ameliorated.

A similar article entitled “La Mesans Call for Effective Climate Action Plan, Planners Vote to Reconsider City’s CAP” has been published in the Communities section of the East County Magazine.  Click on the link for this and other La Mesa news.



  1. Bonnie says

    As your article says, Joan, we’ll be keeping our eye on developments regarding La Mesa’s CAP. Did those who crafted La Mesa’s weak plan really think they could get by with what the County of San Diego couldn’t get by with? Thanks for writing about this.

    • Joan R says

      Thank you Bonnie. The whole experience was fascinating. I suspect that they started to craft their bill before SANDAG and the County ended up losing in court and it didn’t occur to them that the same could happen to them. Therefore they didn’t give orders to change how city staff and their consultant put together the plan. One of the Commissioners even said something about that towards the end of the discussion period. Hopefully other cities in the county still working on their plans will have heard of this and changed the original orders given to their planning people and other CAPs won’t need to go back to be completely redone.

  2. Bonnie says

    Is it possible the original orders might have been to do the absolute minimum in order to give the appearance of complying?

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