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December 5, 2022

Local climate action heats up


Healdsburg is at the very epicenter of the climate crisis 

Warming temperatures and cycles of drought contributed to the destructive Kincade Fire in 2019 and the Walbridge Fire in 2020. Sections of the city and the surrounding area were evacuated both times. 

Climate impacts have already proven costly to the city, local businesses and individual citizens, and swift and decisive action is overdue. Healdsburg until now lacked a Climate Action Plan with specific goals and staff/budget allocations.

But now we begin a new chapter. The city is developing a comprehensive, long term Climate Action Plan. Assistant City Manager Andrew Sturmfels has been tasked with leading this effort across all departments and proposing climate mitigation and adaptation projects and targets. 

Healdsburg has a wealth of climate science, policy, technology, equity and mobilization expertise among its residents, an asset our city government recognizes and of which it intends to take full advantage. This spring, a group of Healdsburg residents began to discuss and propose multifaceted solutions to the climate emergency.

“Healdsburg Climate Action” includes members from a variety of local organizations, such as Healdsburg 2040, the “We Are Talking About It” Conversation Circle, Indivisible Healdsburg’s Climate Action Team, the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, Healdsburg Noon Rotary,  the Alexander Valley Film Festival, the Climate Center,  Sonoma County Climate Mobilization, Healdsburg Community for Sustainable Solutions, the Climate Reality Project and Healdsburg’s two appointed representatives on the Climate Action Advisory Committee for the Regional Climate Protection Authority.

Healdsburg Climate Action is leading a growing number of grassroots efforts. We created a committee to address drought-related issues, including supply infrastructure, water policy/fees and new opportunities to reduce water demand. Another group hopes to expand COPE (Communities Organized to Prepare for Emergencies) groups so that residents are prepared for any future disasters. 

However, we also want to inspire our neighbors through Cool Healdsburg to find ways to reduce their carbon emissions and conserve water more effectively using innovative methods. Finally, another group wants to make our streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians and to create a robust network of transit options to encourage people to drive less.

When expert volunteers from the American Institute of Architects published their report in 2018 about the sustainable development challenges facing Healdsburg over the next 20 years, climate change was not mentioned. Since then, much has changed. 

We have suffered climate-related disasters and—thanks, in part, to grassroots efforts like Healdsburg 2040, Indivisible Healdsburg and Sonoma County Climate Mobilization—climate change has become a political priority. We are very encouraged that the city council and city staff have clearly indicated that they are open for our input and expertise.

In mid-October, a process for developing a “Climate Mobilization Plan” will be presented to the city council. It will be followed by public engagement seeking input from residents, businesses and other organizations.

Healdsburg Climate Action encourages participation in this vital effort to build a vibrant and climate-resilient community. Healdsburg is well positioned to become a climate leader on the local level. If interested in joining our efforts and finding out more about what we are doing, send an email to [email protected]