On July 19th, 2022, the Sebastopol City Council unanimously adopted the Sebastopol Climate Action Framework, a document that will guide the City as it works to address the climate emergency. The Climate Action Framework provides Sebastopol with the next steps towards reaching the goals of the Climate Emergency Resolution adopted in 2019, which included a goal of reducing emissions to net zero by 2030, sequestering additional carbon from the atmosphere, preparing for current and future climate impacts, and centering equity and community engagement in the City’s ongoing climate actions.
Sebastopol’s CivicSpark Fellow, Phoebe Goulden, led the development of the Sebastopol Climate Action Framework beginning in Fall 2021 and worked closely with the Sebastopol Climate Action Committee, Sebastopol Planning Department staff, and the Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) to assemble the plan. The Framework development process included comprehensive community engagement activities to understand better the concerns and priorities of Sebastopol community members in relation to climate change. These engagement activities included presentations to community-based organizations, holding a community workshop, soliciting input through a resident survey, and tabling at community events. This outreach was guided by a Community Engagement Strategy that was adopted in December 2021 to ensure that vulnerable populations were included throughout the effort.
Figure 1. Framework development process. More detail on the engagement process is available in Appendix C of the Framework.
What is the Climate Action Framework?
The Sebastopol Climate Action Framework is a key tool to aid the City and its residents in addressing the climate emergency. The Framework provides an overview of Sebastopol’s climate progress so far and sets community-driven goals for additional action in six areas: Transportation, Sustainable Land Use, Buildings and Clean Energy, Consumption and Waste, Community, and City Operations and Leadership.
Unlike a “climate action plan”, the Framework does not include specific actions that Sebastopol will take and is not certified under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The City of Petaluma adopted a similar approach in developing its Climate Emergency Framework in January 2021.
RCPA was a key partner in the development of Sebastopol’s Climate Action Framework, hosting CivicSpark Fellow Phoebe Goulden in its Santa Rosa office for the 11-month CivicSpark service year. The Framework shares many of the goals of RCPA’s Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy, which was an important reference document throughout the Framework’s development. The four major areas of the Mobilization Strategy are Decarbonization, Carbon Sequestration and Ecosystem Services, Resilience and Adaptation, and Equity and Community Engagement. To better integrate Sebastopol’s goals with regional efforts, in Appendix A of the Framework: Actions for Future Consideration, each potential action is matched to one of the Climate Mobilization Strategy initiative areas. \
It is our hope that Sebastopol’s Climate Action Framework can serve as a model for other jurisdictions that are committed to climate action but face the challenge of limited resources to address climate change. A Climate Action Framework or similar document can provide direction and momentum for action while requiring a fraction of the time and funding that a formal Climate Action Plan can take to complete. The Community Engagement Strategy and other resources from Sebastopol’s Climate Action Framework can also serve as a reference for other jurisdictions embarking on a similar process.
The Framework does not commit the City of Sebastopol to specific climate actions but instead provides the process and principles by which to evaluate potential actions. Therefore, an important next step is to determine priority actions for the City to take on moving forward. An initial list of actions that could help Sebastopol achieve the Framework’s goals is included in Appendix A of the Framework: Actions for Future Consideration. Over the next few months, Sebastopol’s Climate Action Committee (CAC) will evaluate and prioritize emission-reduction and preparedness strategies, including those in Appendix A. The CAC’s recommendations will be brought to the Sebastopol City Council for approval and appropriation of funds.
The Framework also recognizes the need for continued regional collaboration to address cross-jurisdictional topics such as county traffic patterns, emissions from the consumption of goods and services, watershed-level issues that cut across city boundaries, and more. As the regional organization dedicated to climate efforts, RCPA will continue to facilitate this collaboration through its jurisdictional members, agency partners, citizen involvement committees, and coordinated work with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. As part of this broader effort, the Sebastopol Climate Action Framework will allow the City, its residents, and its local community-based organizations to be leaders in combating climate change both within the city boundaries and across the entire county.