Situated within Santa Barbara County in the California South Coast region, the City of Goleta is a relatively new city. Since its incorporation in 2002, the City has prioritized environmental stewardship and sustainability in planning, programs, and decision-making. To take this work to the next level, Goleta joined the Fall 2016 STAR Leadership Program in order to identify and convey the City’s sustainability vision and goals for the future, set realistic targets, and create a process for measuring progress and achieving the identified goals.
In October 2016, Cindy Moore, Goleta’s Sustainability Coordinator, joined representatives from five other cities in Kansas City, MO for a training on sustainability benchmarking as a part of the leadership program. Upon returning to Goleta, Moore and other city staff engaged partners and local stakeholders in collecting and reporting data, and in November 2017, Goleta received a Certified 3-STAR Community Rating.
At the same time that Goleta was wrapping up its STAR certification process, a series of natural disasters swept over the region. Wildfires spread across Santa Barbara County and subsequent debris flow following a major storm highlighted an energy grid vulnerability that brought resilience to the forefront of the community’s attention. To address this vulnerability, in December of 2017 the Goleta City Council adopted a goal to achieve 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2030, reducing dependency on far-away energy generation sources and creating a more resilient community.
The combination of the newly adopted energy goal and STAR certification presented a unique opportunity for community members and partners to come together for a workshop to explore how Goleta’s STAR results and certification performance could inform the development of the City’s first sustainability plan and contribute to the upcoming resilience efforts.
On June 4th, Goleta residents and stakeholders from the local government, regional non-profits, and the private sector came together for a half-day workshop to explore the City’s 3-STAR rating. The workshop was designed to educate participants on the interconnected nature of sustainability and resiliency. Participants analyzed gaps identified through certification and developed a list of consensus-based priority actions to create a more sustainable and resilient Goleta. Participants went through gap actions and strategies in the STAR rating system and then weighed the relative impact and effort of each to determine which were appropriate and feasible priorities for the community.
“STAR certification provided a wealth of data to inform Goleta’s resilience and sustainability goals. Bringing together key stakeholders to analyze and prioritize this data was an important next step in our sustainability efforts,” said Moore.
In the coming months, city staff will analyze the priority actions developed by the community and integrate them into departmental plans and processes. Examples of priority actions include:
- Analyzing routes from new developments to nearby stores and services;
- Adopting codes or policies that address climate impacts in the community;
- Conducting a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory every 5 years;
- Adopting a green purchasing policy for local government procurement; and
- Surveying the community on levels of social capital and community cohesion.
“The STAR workshop was an enlightening process to learn about how the City’s certification can be used moving forward. We are excited about the work and the commitment by the City of Goleta staff to the comprehensive approach to sustainability provided by the STAR Community Rating System,” said Rubayi Estes from the Santa Barbara Foundation.