Planning Ahead: Resilience, Sustainability, and Disaster Preparedness

San Leandro has become a role model for the progress we’ve made in the areas of disaster
preparedness, sustainability, and climate resilience. In recent years, we've improved our infrastructure,
organized volunteers, and implemented programs that address some of the most pressing challenges
we face as a community. It all began with our “Adopt A Drain” program, paid for through a grant from
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Cities of Service, which recognizes and funds innovative collaborations
between local governments and their residents.

Adopt A Drain is a perfect example of how we need to work together to prepare for storms, disasters,
and the impacts of climate change. Winter storms, for example, can cause significant flooding and other
damage to homes, businesses, and roadways. The Adopt A Drain program, funded through a $25,000
Cities of Service grant encourages residents and businesses to adopt drains and to keep those drains
clear of debris on a regular basis.

A separate $25,000 grant from Cities of Service provided the funds to organize a Community Emergency
Response Team (CERT) initiative, which offers emergency preparedness training courses and emergency
kits for resident volunteers, who in turn work with their neighbors to create a community-based response
plans. Should a disaster strike, we will have a trained team of community volunteers in place to save
lives and prevent further property damage until fire, police, paramedics, and utility personnel can
respond.

Being prepared for earthquakes, floods, and other emergencies is just one part of the equation. We also
need to put plans into place to address and alleviate the long-term impacts of climate change, including
improving the city’s energy consumption and use of natural resources.

Last year, San Leandro hired its first Sustainability Manager, Sally Barros, whose job it is to identify
different ways our city can be more resilient and self-sustaining. Sally has been examining a wide variety
of city activities through a sustainability lens, from the technology we use to our energy consumption,
to lighting in municipal buildings, and much more. As a result of these efforts, we are saving energy,
prioritizing recycling, and implementing guidelines to improve the way the city functions while also
saving money and other resources.

Sally’s work helped us secure a $5 million grant for implementing solar energy at our wastewater
treatment plant, which is the biggest user of energy in the city. Through solar power, we're going save
60 percent of our energy, which we hope to store and redirect for emergency purposes.

In April, San Leandro received a $539,000 grant from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to
reduce pollution and enhance the habitat along our shoreline at the Water Pollution Control Plant at
3000 Davis Street. The demonstration project will restore 4.3 acres of transitional wetlands and utilize
nature-based green infrastructure to reduce water treatment costs over the long term. 

I recently returned from a Bloomberg’s Cities of Service event in Brooklyn. The organization invited me,
along with eleven other mayors worldwide, to sit on their advisory panel (and they covered my travel
expenses to attend!). Many of the advisory members come from much larger cities, and I am honored to
represent smaller cities to ensure the programs they offer are valid and important to all groups.

At events such as the one hosted by the Cities of Service, I build partnerships with other cities, and we
share our experiences in the areas of planning for sustainability and resilience with each other. Groups
notice San Leandro, and they invest in our programs because we produce results.

I believe we should leave this earth a little bit better than we found it for our future generations. By
working together within our community and with partners supporting our resiliency and sustainability
programs, we have made and will continue to make good things happen.

Please visit the Adopt A Drain and CERT websites if you are interested in learning more or becoming one
of our volunteers. We could use your help!

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published this page in Blog 2018-10-15 23:46:30 -0700
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