By Santa Monica Councilmember Kevin McKeown
SMRR champions more than renters’ rights — SMRR-led City Councils over many years, starting in 1981 with our first progressive majority, have made Santa Monica a world-acclaimed environmental leader.
SMRR leadership brought initiatives that now seem obvious, but were visionary and controversial at the time. One recycling bin at the Civic Auditorium grew into curbside recycling programs in all renter and homeowner neighborhoods. SMRR pushed for purchasing the cleanest alternative fuel vehicles, from our City car fleet to the Big Blue Bus, and for energy-saving fluorescent bulbs and water-wise showers and toilets in all residences.
Santa Monica’s famously tasty farmers’ markets were a SMRR initiative, as were environmentally certified new community facilities, from the Main Library to Virginia Avenue Park. Even our affordable housing achievements are environmental winners: the Community Corporation’s solar-powered apartments at Fifth and Colorado have won international acclaim.
Keeping Santa Monica Bay clean has long been a SMRR focus, from building an innovative urban-runoff treatment facility (not coincidentally called SMURFF), to banning smoking and cigarette butts on our beaches, to helping pass last year’s comprehensive stormwater-management bond.
Now, climate change and imminent drought have raised the stakes. SMRR is ready with stronger options and better incentive policies, to help us all keep Santa Monica clean and healthful, and to create models that other communities can replicate.
On November 4th at our SMRR annual meeting, we’ll host an environmental panel with city, school, and college representatives. Join us in reviewing what SMRR has accomplished and what tasks lie ahead.
Your SMRR City Council recently improved Santa Monica’s Green Building Guidelines, encouraging energy-saving options such as plant-covered “green roofs,” and plugs at every new parking space to make switching to an electric car or plug-in hybrid an easier decision for you.
Gasoline means air pollution and war. Drive an electric car, or even a stickered high-mileage, low-emission hybrid, and thanks to SMRR-initiated policies Santa Monica will let you park free at meters. Plug your electric vehicle into City power all over town, also for free — drivers of electric cars always get a charge out of Santa Monica.
Santa Monica city facilities have run on renewable-resource electricity for many years, and even the Ferris wheel on the Pier is solar-powered, but now our pilot Solar Santa Monica program includes a special affordable option for renters. If you have the willingness, SMRR is bringing together the expertise. You don’t need to spend weeks at the library or on the internet to become an effective environmentalist. At our SMRR annual meeting, meet and learn from Santa Monica’s Sustainable Works team, who’ll walk you through an audit of your day-to-day activities and demonstrate how you can turn your own world greener.
As a SMRR member, living in Santa Monica, you are an environmental leader. Cities around the world know Santa Monica as a community where we work together to sustain our quality of life for our children and for generations into the future.
Note: Councilmember Kevin McKeown is the liaison to the Santa Monica Task Force on the Environment.