Cuyahoga County Releases Complete Climate Action Plan With Focus on Charging Stations, Transit-Oriented Development, Solar Power and More

click to enlarge Cuyahoga County Releases Complete Climate Action Plan With Focus on Charging Stations, Transit-Oriented Development, Solar Power and More
Sam Allard, Scene

Armond Budish today released more details from the county's climate action plan, which seeks a host of remedies including an expansion of vehicle charging stations, development of public transit-oriented housing and development, a focus on pedestrian and bike-friendly planning, an emphasis on solar power, and a pledge to follow through with a region-wide Greenway project.

"Climate Change is real and it is local," Budish wrote in the introduction to the report. "The recent UN report that 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction because of human activity is only the latest, frankly,  horrifying development. But the good news in that report and in other data is that communities can take local action that can result in positive change. We can stop some of the momentum. Where we cannot change the trajectory, we can make our communities and our residents more resilient.

"That is what this Climate Action Plan is – our road map for the work that lies ahead. One of the most important things we must do is recognize and focus on the fact that climate change effects our most vulnerable – the poor, the very young, the elderly. These are some of the very same people the County provides benefits and services to every day. The challenge is enormous. To meet it we are focusing on five areas: energy; land use; transportation;
ecosystem and health. In each of these areas we brought people and  organizations together in a true collaboration. We cannot fight this fight in siloes [sic]. There is a lot of work to do. Cuyahoga County will not solve the ills of global climate change by ourselves of course. But we will do our part. This plan is one that will evolve as we learn and gain experience in the fight to keep our County safe for our children and for generations to come."

The reasons supporting those and the other suggested moves should be obvious in a macro sense, but the localized facts, well known and disconcerting as they should be, present ample supporting evidence.

Northeast Ohio, whose infrastructure was built for a population double what exists now, ranks well above the national average for the percent of daily trips taken in a car with only one occupant, above the national average for daily miles driven, is one of the ten worst regions where sprawl is still advancing, and ranks dead last among 96 regions for the number of jobs accessible to the average resident.

Most of the substantive policy recommendations were announced by Budish at the State of the County speech (details below), but the fully fleshed out report lends background research and additional details. Find it here.

1) TREES: Ask county council for $5 million over the next five years to plant thousands of trees across the region. He wants to encourage companies and organizations to plant trees as well — he can envision competitions — and increase the county's tree canopy from 14 to 30 percent by 2040.

2) GREEN BANK: With support from local foundations, create a bank that lends money and invests in clean energy projects, including residential solar panels.

3) COUNTY GREENWAY: Work to build more pedestrian and bike paths and connect the existing network. Enhance recreational opportunities while at the same time increasing property values and reducing carbon emissions.

4) PUBLIC TRANSIT ASSISTANCE: "Find ways to increase the use of public transit." The county's contribution will be giving preferential development dollars — all else being equal — to projects located within walking distance of transit routes and providing incentives to companies who wish to relocate to transit-connected job hubs.

5) EV CHARGING STATIONS: Accelerate creation of electric vehicle infrastructure. Currently there are only about 50 charging stations in the county. Goal is to create "robust" infrastructure within three years.

6) TRAFFIC LIGHTS: Work with NOACA to better time traffic signals, thereby reducing idling (and concomitant emissions), and speeding up commutes. NOACA's next street project: Chester, from University Circle to downtown.

7) ROOFTOP SOLAR: Heartened by the success of 35,000 solar panels in Brooklyn, which cover the vast majority of energy consumption at the county's administrative headquarters downtown, add rooftop solar panels to three county buildings and make available to other county communities the same affordable energy pricing that county receives. 
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