Port Angeles aims for climate plan in 2019

Effort to be aided by citizen committee

PORT ANGELES — City officials will develop a climate action plan in 2019 with help from a citizens’ committee.

The Port Angeles City Council voted 6-0 last Tuesday to prioritize the development of a climate action plan as part of the city’s strategic and community work plans for next year.

“A number of citizens for a number of years have been saying ‘Hey, City Council, hey city staff, get on this because it needs to happen’ and we have not done so,” Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said before the vote.

“At this point, we have been missing out on state funding opportunities by not having a climate action plan as well, so it’s hurting us financially by not having taken action on this.

“I’d like to see us start working on it,” Schromen-Wawrin added, “and I suggest that we do this collaboratively with community stakeholders taking the lead with support from city staff and council.”

Clallam County has begun an effort to update its 2009 climate action plan.

The city’s climate action plan will include mitigation and adaptation strategies for the expected impacts of climate change in Port Angeles.

According to the North Olympic Development Council’s 2015 Climate Change Preparedness Plan for the North Olympic Peninsula, coastal communities will be susceptible to sea level rise, diminished streamflows, enhanced wildfire risk and ocean acidification.

Port Angeles Community and Economic Development Director Nathan West recommended that the council assemble the climate action group in early 2019 because staff is already committed to other projects for the remainder of this year.

“We certainly appreciate the public input that we’ve received on the topic as well as the passion of council and the desire to move forward with that item,” West told the council.

“I do think it’s important to recognize that we have a very full work plan already this year, and I think it’s important that council be well aware that this is an exercise that staff would very much like to participate in.”

West said it was important for staff be “involved, engaged and vested in the outcome” of the climate action plan so that it will be used on a regular basis.

No council member objected to the request to begin the project early next year.

“I do think that we are piling on a lot of work for 2018, and we run the risk of doing five things poorly rather than doing three or four things well,” council member Mike French said.

“We must have staff engaged in this, and we’ve already put so much on their plate,” Council member Cherie Kidd added.

“This cannot be done poorly, and it cannot be done without staff fully engaged.

“We have to do this right,” Kidd said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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