To better understand and help local governments in California successfully develop and implement effective sustainability plans and policies in their jurisdictions, the Alliance in partnership with Public Technology Institute conducted a survey of California cities to determine needs for sustainability benchmarking tools.
The survey, conducted in April-May 2009, examined the following:
- The level of sustainability adoption among California cities;
- What sustainability benchmarking tools cities are now using;
- How sustainability tools are working for local city governments; and
- What additional functionality these tools need to support the development and implementation of sustainability plans and actions.
76 of 480 cities in California (or 16%) participated in the survey. Key findings from the survey include:
- 67% of respondents indicated that their communities strongly support sustainability;
- 55% responded that there is very strong leadership support within their cities for sustainability programs;
- Water and energy efficiency were included among the top three sustainability priorities by more than 50% of respondents. Water efficiency was selected by 21 cities as their very top sustainability priority. Eleven cities selected energy efficiency as their top priority while 20 cities selected energy efficiency as their second highest priority.
- Although the limited sample size meant it was difficult to draw broad conclusions from this survey. The diverse responses reinforce the perspective that local governments tend to have unique local priorities and resource challenges. There are several important common themes:
- California’s local governments face many competing priorities, many of which are mandatory, and do not have enough financial and staff resources to do them all.
- Confusion is high, with existing and evolving policy goals and regulatory and legislative mandates competing for attention, and lack of clarity as to exactly what actions local governments need to take.
- Despite these challenges, city leadership and community support for sustainability remain high and there is a lot of current activity in all of the sustainability priorities.
- On their own initiative, many local governments are proactively partnering with their utilities, state and federal agencies, private organizations, and other cities and counties.
- Nearly every one of the 76 cities that participated in this survey indicated they had some type of environmental sustainability program ‐ whether it was recycling and/or composting, to fully integrated smart growth and climate action programs.
To view the full survey results and report, please click here