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Editorial: Step up for environmental panel

February 16, 2012

It looks like Laguna Beach may be on its way to having a functioning Environmental Committee again — if some folks step up and apply to be on the panel.

Last year, the City Council was taken aback when no one even put their name in the hopper for the committee, charged with helping to formulate environmentally friendly policies.

In Laguna Beach, which, as they say, "bleeds green," this was a shocker.

The committee was founded more than five years ago to advise the council on matters of sustainability, "green" building, environmental protection, water quality and generally keeping the city on the cutting edge of the green movement.

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Since its founding, new and very strong groups have sprung up to lobby for specific issues: Laguna Bluebelt took the lead on obtaining strict marine reserve protocols; Transition Laguna has made huge strides in local gardening projects and promoting locally sourced food for private homes and restaurants; and the Complete Streets Task Force began seeking to educate the driving public about bicycling and pedestrianism, and the concept of "sharing the road."

Many of those involved in these projects were at one time involved in the Environmental Committee.

But apparently the open-endedness of the committee's mandate was also its undoing. Enthusiasts readily joined but then were frustrated when their pet projects got bogged down in the slough of city bureaucracy.

So there has been no Environmental Committee for many months now, due to lack of a quorum or ideas about how to get a quorum together.

So the council formed a subcommittee to try to zero in on the problem. The subcommittee recommended, and the council recently approved, significant changes to the committee, including a new name: Environmental Sustainability Committee.

The revamped Environmental Sustainability Committee will focus its efforts on developing a sustainability element for the General Plan and recommending Complete Streets projects.

Now it's time for those who care about these issues to come forward and get Laguna back on the "green" track in terms of policy-making.

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