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February 27, 2008 > Fremont Green Task Force

Fremont Green Task Force

By Sam Rao

The new buzz words in every city's future General Plans include 'sustainable' and 'green.' This outlook has permeated industry with the inclusion of Green Tech or Clean Tech industry norms, and so responsible city governments are not too far behind.

On Oct. 9, 2007, at the request of Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman, the Fremont City Council established its first Green Task Force. Following an invitation to the public to become volunteer members of the Ad-Hoc committee, interested and qualified community members were interviewed and on Dec. 4, 2007, the Council approved the Green Task Force Advisory Commission and appointed Richard Godfrey as Chairperson, and members Justine Burt, Mihir Meghani, John Landers, Matthew Dickstein, Diann Lippman, and Shanthi Sambathkumar.

With the resolution of the City Council, Fremont has now joined several cities in Alameda county, under the aegis of Stopwaste.org, albeit "only in the second phase of operation," according to Kathy Cote, Environmental Services Manager for the City of Fremont. The earlier reluctance to adopt measures suggested to cities in Alameda County was due to concerns about ambiguous target definition etc. Stopwaste.Org is the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board, operating as one public agency. In the Tri-City area, Union City adopted a similar initiative last year.

The Green Task Force Advisory Commission is an Ad-Hoc committee, whose role is to discuss topics such as sustainable practices, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and Green Tech/Clean Tech technologies. The commission advises on sustainable policy development for the City of Fremont, and works with city staff on other initiatives undertaken by the city of Fremont to be adopted in the General Plan Update. The commissions meet monthly from until June 2008.

The last General Plan for the city of Fremont was in 1991. The plan did not include sustainability at that time, and since then the city council of Fremont has strongly decided to add sustainable living as a part of the General plan. Along with ongoing efforts, the recommendations of the Green Task force will have a bearing in the General Plan update 2030 for the City of Fremont.

Green task force Chairperson Dr. Richard Cohen, a surgeon at Kaiser Hospital Fremont, led the second meeting for 2008 on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at City Hall along with other commissioners. The meeting, open to the public, heard a presentation by City of Fremont Environmental Services Manager Kathy Cote, who presented an update of Fremont's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions along with the status of a recommendation report due later this year. The Fremont Greenhouse Emissions Inventory is in partnership with International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) to quantify emissions from city facilities and vehicles- including detailed software, analysis and recommendations. This report will make a major contribution to the Fremont's sustainable living portion of the General plan.

"We are still in the learning process, and plan to invite speakers on our prioritized issues," said Cohen, as Green Task Force members joined in an animated discussion following the ICLEI presentation. Moderated by Maya Williams, staff member at the City of Fremont, the Green Task Force, the group brainstormed on a variety of issues and topics, deciding to short list a few speakers to educate and answer pertinent questions from the commission members for the next three months, following which, they would work on a recommendation report.

Commission members are considering the creation of a website, detailing the work at the commission with announcements, a citizen education workshop and an online survey to go along with such initiatives already underway by the city. Some other plans and ideas they are considering are the carbon credits exchange program for helping with the reduction of carbon dioxide gas emissions; goal setting for achieving "Fremont as a Green City," work on supportable and achievable goals, and work on policy recommendation to attract more CleanTech and GreenTech industry like Solar energy.

The Green Task Force Ad-Hoc Commission meetings are open to public and expert speakers are slated for the next few upcoming meetings. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 12, at 6 p.m. in Fremont City Hall. For more information about how to get involved, new projects in Fremont, or to learn about Green Task Force meetings and speakers, call (510) 284-4013.


Green Task Force Upcoming Meeting Dates:

Wednesdays, March 12 & April 9
6 p.m.
Fremont City Hall
3300 Capitol Ave., Fremont
(510) 284-4013
Cost: Free and open to public

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