Santa Monica Named One of Nation’s Most Sustainable Cities
By Jorge Casuso
June 3 -- Santa Monica was named the nation’s fifth most sustainable city and could have grabbed the top spot but for its proximity to Los Angeles, according to a prominent national organization dedicated to sustainable development and living.
SustainLane, which announced its “US City Rankings” in San Francisco Thursday, used a list of criteria that included transportation, air and tap water quality, land use and type of developments, and the number of farmers markets and sustainable or “green’ buildings per capita.
San Francisco won top honors, followed by Portland, Berkeley, Seattle and Santa Monica, the only city with less than 100,000 residents. Following Santa Monica were Austin, New York, Chicago, Oakland, Minneapolis and Denver.
“The things Santa Monica is doing, I can’t take a lot of credit for because it’s what’s expected by our community,” said Mayor Pam O’Connor, who accepted the award on behalf of the City. “We are the voice of the community in implementing sustainable programs.
“While we have the community, we also have the (City) Council and a very dedicated and innovative staff,” O’Connor said. “They really are implementing day to day, and it’s more than a job for them.”
The SustainLane US City Rankings were obtained using a combination of primary and secondary research directed by the group, according to SustainLane’s web site. Overall rankings were determined by averaging 12 individual category rankings into a cumulative average.
Santa Monica ranked first in the number of green buildings and farmers markets per capita, and tied with San Francisco in solid waste diversion and recycling.
Santa Monica was also signaled out for excellence in energy and climate policy and innovation in pollution prevention and reducing urban runoff, according to SustainLane.
“Santa Monica would vie for the very top spot in our study were it not for the Los Angeles basin’s air quality and lack of a regional transportation infrastructure,” the group said.
“The challenges that face the region as a whole aside, little Santa Monica is proving that the greater Los Angeles area can live more sustainably in important ways,” the group said.
When receiving the award, O’Connor, who serves on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board, noted that the MTA has the largest fleet of alternative fuel buses in America.
She also touted the area’s transportation system, especially Santa Monica’s award-winning Big Blue Bus.
“You can arrive at LAX or Union Station and grab a Big Blue Bus and come to Santa Monica,” O’Connor said. “You can spend a week without a car using Santa Monica’s award-winning Big Blue Bus.”
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