The Green Task Force & The Water Committee

There is a growing awareness at the national and state levels of the importance to implement green practices. Legislation has been approved by the State of California with mandates for cities and regions to implement such practices in order to reduce impacts on the environment. For example, cities and counties throughout the state are required to comply with SB 375, the goal of which is to reduce green house gases in the state. This is a major public policy shift which is currently being discussed at the regional level by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the Southern California Association of Governments. In addition, other State legislation, such as AB 811, provides financial incentives for homeowners to lower home utility usage through the installation of insulation or solar equipment. Overall, there is a growing awareness that cities can play a significant role in mitigating the environmental impacts of new construction and reducing household utility use and, therefore, reduce environmental impacts.

The City Council adopted the Energy Action Plan for La Cañada Flintridge on March 4, 2013. See the plan for more details. Are you part of the solution?

The Green Task Force was created by the Mayor in order to address green issues affecting residents of La Cañada Flintridge. Specifically, the charge of the Task Force was to provide options for the City Council to consider which do not require significant regulatory changes, but instead encourage residents and business owners to use green techniques in new construction, utility usage and landscaping. The appointed nine-member Task Force of residents was tasked to:

1. Identify current City Green programs.

2. Explore additional ways the City can decrease its use of water and energy resources.

3. Develop lists of short-term and long-term Green practices as part of an action plan.

4. Identify outreach programs and communicate to businesses and residents an educational effort about the benefits of using Green technologies.

Current City Green programs identified by the Task Force include the Construction and Demolition Debris Management program (C&D) and Calsense with both administered by the Public Works Department. Under the Municipal Code (Ordinance 313), a minimum of 50% of construction waste generated by projects has to be recycled as part of the C&D program. In 2008, 87% of the materials was recycled, which increased to 94% in 2009. This significantly reduces the amount of recyclable debris being put in limited landfills. Calsense provides irrigation controllers, water and labor saving accessories and water management software. The City uses this system at City facilities, medians, parks and school district sites. This has resulted in water savings of over 90%. In addition, Calsense allows the City to detect water line breaks and reduce or stop the potential for slope failures, manpower efforts and water loss. Over time, both programs have had significant success in reducing construction debris and water usage.


The Task Force considered options that were tailored specifically for the City of La Cañada Flintridge and that did not require significant regulatory change. The emphasis of the Task Force was to encourage residents and businesses to adopt measures through emphasizing the economic benefits of green alternatives. The Task Force identified the four key elements of a plan that included Education/Outreach, Municipal Code, Demonstration Projects and Funding. Within each key element are specific tasks for the City Council to consider and possibly adopt in order to implement a green plan. The following is the list of options that the Task Force identified:

I. Education/Outreach

● Add a green page to the City’s website with links to utility companies and other information sources.

● Create a library of materials available to the public.

● City to have booths at community events such as Fiesta days, farmer’s market and create an official “Green Day”.

● City to provide information to residents and contractors/developers at public counters.

● Outreach to students in schools in order to reach parents.

● Encourage use of water saving methods such as drip irrigation and provide links to classes provided by businesses.

● Join and be active in “Build It Green” organization.

● Have a green news column in local media outlets.

● Highlight achievements in the city.

● Set up a calendar of green events.

● Planning staff to work with Design Commission to establish palette of drought tolerant plant materials for proposed developments.

● Students to develop demonstration projects.

● City to arrange tours of green facilities for residents.

II. Municipal Code/City Policy

● Amend City codes to comply with green requirements in the new General Plan and state laws (Title 24).

● Amend City codes to comply with any future San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments SB 375 (Green House Gases) plan.

● Amend code to reflect any future changes to diversion rates.

● Amend code to encourage green methods of conservation similar to programs in sample cities (e.g. Manhattan Beach, Pasadena and Rancho Palos Verdes).

● City Council to adopt a resolution in support of AB 811.

● Task Force recommends that the City support single trash service franchise.

III. Demonstration Projects

● Create a drought tolerant demonstration project for Foothill Boulevard and convert city properties to green techniques.

● Have a demonstration project at the high school.

● Show recognition to homes, businesses and institutions for green techniques.

IV. Funding

● Support efforts by the City to secure funding for projects from State and Federal government

● Provide information to the public regarding funding available for green projects (e.g SCE and Sempra, water companies).

● Prepare an economic analyses of costs/benefits of solar and other green methods.

● Green home tours to generate funds for green programs.

● City to provide incentives for residents to use LEED and Build It Green standards similar to the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.

The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Local Water Issues was charged with the task of studying local water issues and  providing recommendations to the City Council that would encourage residents and businesses within the City to reduce their water consumption. This is part of an effort to educate the public and provide opportunities for discussion about the future water needs of the community and to serve as a platform for the initiation of these discussions. Overall, the Committee’s recommendations encourage, rather than require, water usage reduction through conservation. In addition, the Committee emphasized the storing of water and the rehabilitation of existing facilities rather than the creation of new water facilities.

The Committee forum provided an opportunity for increased communication between the City, water companies and major users of water. This channel of communication can be built upon and used in the future for continued discussion of issues of mutual interest and concern. It is envisioned that the Committee, in some form, will meet regularly into the future. The list of recommendations, as prepared by the Committee for consideration by the City Council, is not considered to be all inclusive. Other suggestions are encouraged from the City Council, residents and businesses.

The Committee was established in November, 2009 by then-Mayor Olhasso. Members of the Committee included representatives of the five local water utilities, City staff, City Council representatives, environmental advocates, as well as representatives from some of the largest consumers of local water from within the community, including the La Cañada Unified School District and Descanso Gardens. The purposes of the Committee were as follows:

1. Expand public education regarding the region’s water supply;

2. Evaluate the community’s current and future water consumption needs;

3. Determine future infrastructure needs to ensure the continuity of the local water supply (as needed and during disaster events);

4. Promote regulatory and voluntary efforts encouraging water conservation;

5. Determine whether there is a need for local regulation regarding landscaping requirements.

The following is a summary of the recommendations of the Committee with a matrix provided at the end of the staff report with timelines and accountability noted:

• Create a “Water Page” on the City’s proposed Green Task Force Homepage and include information and links to relevant information and websites;

• Work with local water utilities in standardizing water conservation tips show on their websites;

• Prepare a standardized brochure for distribution to customers of all water utilities and as handouts in agency offices and City Hall;

• Prepare articles for newsletters and newspapers with hints for water conservation and examples of available homeowner and agency programs;

• Prepare City regulations in accordance with State law AB 1881 (Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance) that incorporates the Committee’s recommendations;

• Coordinate with schools on educational materials and classes (all ages) on water usage; 

• Water Committee to meet annually and to report to the City Council with updates on achievements and future additional recommendations;

• Provide printed materials as part of outreach efforts at community events (such as Farmer’s Market, community mixers, Fiesta Days, etc.);

• Provide residents and businesses with low cost/free water saving devices and information.

Links to other similar California programs:

Santa Monica, CA

Office of Sustanability 

Guidelines for Design 

Pasadena, CA

Green City 

Green Building 

Green Building Development Guide 

Irvine, CA

Environmental Programs 

Green Buildings Guidelines 

Green Building Program  (being updated currently)

Oakland, CA

Environment, Energy & Sustainability 

Green Building Resource Center 

Green Building Guidelines (Alameda County) 

Marin County

Green Guide 

San Diego, CA

Sustainable Community 

City of Davis

Community Sustainability 

Green Building 

City of Santa Barbara

Sustainable Santa Barbara 

Built Green Santa Barbara 

City of San Jose

Green Vision 

City of Temecula


Green Building 

Santa Cruz, CA

Green Building Working Group 

Green Building Program 



Green Building Links 

PG&E Pacific Energy Center 

AIA Committee on the Environment 

Building Green