Green enough? Atherton passes on signing global-warming pledge
Atherton is No. 1 ... in energy consumption per household, that is.
Atherton households consume three to four times more energy than the average San Mateo County household, according to Jill Boone, the county's resource conservation program manager.
In light of that dubious distinction, Atherton officials are contemplating ways to encourage residents to design big beautiful houses that suck up less gas and electricity. They're also looking at ways to make town facilities more energy efficient.
"This is something we don't want to be No. 1 at," said Mayor Charles Marsala at the City Council's Nov. 15 meeting.
However, don't expect Atherton to join the ranks of towns like Portola Valley in pledging to reduce greenhouse gases by signing the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, at least not anytime soon. Mr. Marsala, who passed around a copy of Al Gore's book on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," couldn't get a majority of his council colleagues to agree to sign onto the pledge to reduce the town's greenhouse gas emissions.
Councilman Jim Janz supported the pledge. However, it failed on a 2-2 vote with Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen absent.
"I want to be sure we don't adopt window-dressing kinds of measures without practical applications," said Councilman Jerry Carlson.
Councilman Alan Carlson said that the town already has put environmentally friendly regulations in place. Atherton is one of the biggest recyclers of green waste, and it was the first city in California to enact a demolition-recycling program, he said.
"Just because we sign it, it makes us feel good about ourselves? I don't see the point of it," Mr. Carlson said.
Ms. Boone said the Mayors' Agreement was being considered by a number of cities in the county; Portola Valley has already signed on. The county has passed a resolution to reduce emissions and energy consumption at its own facilities by 2010, she said.
Several residents at the meeting spoke in favor of Atherton's signing the agreement, saying that global warming is a serious concern, and one spoke against it.
The council voted 4-0 to send the matter to its Environmental Programs Committee, the newly renamed advisory body formerly known as the Waste Reduction Committee. The committee is charged with making Atherton-specific recommendations.
The council did decide to pursue joining PG&E's Energy Watch program, which offers a free energy-use analysis and creation of a priority list of energy-saving retrofit projects to local government agencies.
"Whatever we do tonight, it should not be construed that we aren't concerned (about global warming)," said Councilman Jerry Carlson, adding that anything the town ultimately passes would need to be "Athertonized."