Why is the County Undertaking the Energy Efficiency Climate Action Plan?

The County is implementing this Energy Efficiency Climate Action Plan (EECAP) with money from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. The County is using this money to fund the General Plan update, Climate Action Plan, and implementation items to achieve the goals the EECBG Program:

  • Reduce fossil fuel emissions;
  • Reduce the total energy use of the eligible entities;
  • Improve energy efficiency in the transportation, building, and other appropriate sectors; and
  • Create and retain jobs. 

In addition, the EECAP provides numerous benefits to residents, businesses, and the environmental quality of San Mateo County.

What is the Energy Efficiency Climate Action Plan, and How Does it Benefit the County?

The County’s EECAP is a tool that will allow for expedited review of GHG emissions of future development projects. The EECAP will streamline the development process by meeting the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s requirements for a  Qualified GHG Reduction Strategy. The EECAP  will also support the goals and policies of AB 32 –The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

What will the Energy Efficiency Climate Action Plan address?

The EECAP will include a greenhouse gas emissions inventory that will analyze GHG emissions within the community for the baseline year of 2005. From these baseline emissions levels, the County will create an estimate of year 2020 and year 2035 emissions levels based on anticipated population and employment growth, which will help identify sectors that require the most attention in the EECAP.

How will the Energy Efficiency Climate Action Plan be implemented?

The County will implement the EECAP through a variety of programs and an ongoing public outreach campaign. The EECAP will build on findings from the Energy Reduction Strategy and Adaptation Plan. Subsequent updates to the General Plan and Zoning Code will integrate the EECAP in the County’s day-to-day land use review and approval process. Public will outreach will provide momentum for achieving project goals. Outreach will include multiple public workshops, two ad-hoc advisory committees, and on-going community education about adaptation and program implementation after the project is completed.

How does the Energy Efficiency Climate Action Plan relate to other planning documents

San Mateo County residents, businesses, and government will collectively play a role in achieving the goals of the General Plan and EECAP and the County’s vision for long-term efficiency and climate change adaptation. Throughout the public engagement process of the project, the County will identify and promote the most effective ways to reduce GHG emissions within the community and implement policies for more balanced and sustainable land uses.

The General Plan and EECAP are two separate but related components of the County’s strategy to achieve a desired distribution of land uses, reduce energy consumption, and mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The General Plan and new Energy and Climate Change Element will organize and highlight the County’s goals related to energy efficiency and climate change and provide new direction and vision to maintain a resilient and energy efficient community. These policy documents will ensure that the EECAP’s recommended programs and actions are integrated into the County’s land use planning process.

The EECAP focuses specifically on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and provides direction to reduce emissions consistent with state law and the CEQA Guidelines. The EECAP is a tool that allows the County to look at its impact on GHG emissions, establish goals for GHG emissions reductions, and create steps to achieve these reduction targets. The EECAP builds on the goals and vision of the General Plan, but translates these goals into numeric thresholds and targets for GHG emissions. The EECAP will be linked to the General Plan as a stand-alone policy and implementation item coordinated with the adopted Energy and Climate Change Element, a legally binding element of the General Plan.

What is the General Plan?

The General Plan is the County’s vision for future development. It identifies goals, policies, and objectives to govern the physical development of the County. State law requires each city and county to adopt a General Plan with a minimum of seven elements: Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open-Space, Noise, and Safety.

The County adopted General Plan policies in 1986. In addition, the County adopted a 1985 Area Plans Summary as part of the General Plan to refine General Plan policies for smaller geographic sub regions throughout the County. Geographic sub regions identified in the General Plan include San Bruno Mountain, Emerald Lake Hills, Montara-Moss Beach-El Granada, North Fair Oaks, and the Skyline Area. The County’s Local Coastal Program provides additional standards that govern land use in coastal regions, as required by the California Coastal Act of 1976.

Why update the General Plan?

The General Plan will be updated to ensure that the EECAP is integrated into the County’s land use planning process. A General Plan update will allow the County to refine goals and policies to address contemporary energy and climate change challenges. It will also allow the County to take advantage of new opportunities that the EECAP will identify to enhance the local quality of life and achieve long-term energy and climate goals.

In addition, since the adoption of the General Plan and Area Plans summary, state legislators adopted AB 32 and SB 375, creating a new context for climate change and energy actions that are not reflected existing in General Plan policies. Through an update to existing General Plan elements and creation of a new Energy and Climate Change Element, the County will respond to the current regulatory context and create a more robust policy framework.