City of LIvermore

LIVERMORE — Staff received an update on the city’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) this week. The first draft is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Tricia Pontau, city associate planner, reported that since the end of 2019, staff’s work on the CAP has included a technical analysis, a community survey, the appointment of members to the Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee (CAPAC), along with its feedback. By the end of 2021, staff aims to bring the draft before the public for comment and seek adoption by the council.

Pontau stated that the city achieved the 2020 emissions reduction goal established in the 2012 CAP. The 2020 CAP will establish new reduction targets that are consistent with new state goals. In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Executive Order B-55-18, which sets a state goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. To meet that 2045 goal, staff developed four components for the CAP: mitigation, adaptation, engagement and implementation.

Senate Bill 32, passed in 2016, requires a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 1990 levels by 2030. The city has already met the requirements of earlier bills that called for a return to 1990 emission levels by 2020.

Alongside Rincon Consultants Inc., the environmental firm engaged by the city, staff prepared updated GHG emissions inventories to determine the sources and magnitude of emissions in Livermore. According to a recent report presented by Rincon Program Manager Ryan Gardner, on-road transportation in Livermore accounts for 55% of emissions. The second highest emission-producing source was residential gas use, which added 12%. Nonresidential gas use and off-road transportation accounted for 10% each.

Gardner spelled out the ways for the city to reduce its GHG. Some of those means include adopting an ordinance to require new developments to utilize electricity over natural gas, and phase in electrification for existing buildings. He also noted the city should aim to reduce vehicular use through improved bike and pedestrian paths, while cutting back on parking options.

City staff, Rincon and the CAPAC will continue to refine the draft measures over the next several months. A virtual open house is set for Jan. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m., to raise awareness about the project and educate the community about the existing conditions.

Small Business Assistance Grant Program

The council voted 4-0 to authorize an additional $774,792 for its Small Business Assistance Grant Program. The funds will go toward rental assistance, a small business eGift card program, and a new commercial rent forgiveness matching program.

While restaurant owners such as Demitri Kaplanis of Demitri's Taverna said they appreciated the city’s assistance, they also called for the city to allow them to serve food outdoors.

“With restaurants being arbitrarily closed, while other industries remain open — often indoor and in more confined and less sanitary spaces — the inconsistencies and the illogical decisions are only costing jobs and destroying businesses and not preventing COVID cases,” Kaplanis said.

Councilmember Trish Munro acknowledged the difficulty, but further stated that for both legal and health reasons, the city can’t allow restaurants to open.

Councilmember Brittni Kiick noted the significance of the eGift card program.

“I think it’s important that we’re not only looking at helping small businesses by throwing money at them, but also by encouraging our residents to shop locally,” Kiick said.

A COVID-19 Update

City Manager Marc Roberts, who also serves as the director of emergency services, offered an update on COVID-19 within the region. As of Monday this week, Alameda County reported 60,347 cases and 736 deaths, with 3,091 cases and 34 deaths in Livermore.

“The numbers are dramatically different than they were a couple months ago,” Roberts said, adding that cases per day have increased 10 times.

He did, however, recognize that in the last couple of weeks, the increase has leveled off.

“Countywide, we have just above 3% ICU bed availability; although that is significant, we are doing better than neighbors to the east,” Roberts commented.

He noted that the San Joaquin County intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is nearly zero.

“Under state direction, the hospital system in the state does work as a single unit, and hospitals within those areas that do have bed capacity are required to take ICU patients from those in surrounding areas,” he continued.

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Feedback from the Community

Public speakers throughout the evening included business owners concerned with closures, as well as energy specialists offering information about Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. One resident, Jackie Cota, spoke on multiple occasions to express her dismay with the state COVID-19 mandates, and called the city “complicit” as it cooperates with health regulations.

A handful of residents also addressed their Eden Housing development concerns. Along with others, James Hutchins said he felt the changes to the downtown affordable housing project, slated for the old Lucky site, were inappropriate. He noted the plans approved in 2018 were vastly different from those presented last month during a council workshop.

“Changes to the kind of units were stated in Eden Housing’s January 2020 A1 funds application, so by January 2020, Eden knew that the plan everyone was looking at was not going to work,” Hutchins said. “It was only in December of 2020 that they told the public. And since the city was watching over the process, they would have seen these changes in the application and also known that the public plan wasn’t real. For a year, neither Eden nor the city said anything.”

Woerner stated that the city will soon post on its website details pertaining to the project.