Project Journal

Hermosa Beach (The Green Idea City) could be the First Carbon Neutral City in the U.S.!
by Robert Fortunato on December 14th, 2012 No Comments

Last night the City Council was generally very supportive of a Carbon Neutral city in day two of their strategic planning session.  They just need our help in making it the priority it deserves.  We wrote them another letter (below and attached) to help them get there.  Please contact them as well to show your support!

Dear Mayor Duclos, City Council and Staff,

Again, my apologies for only being able to catch the last 30 minutes of the strategic planning session last night. I was thankful that the Carbon Neutral discussion coincidentally happened when I was walking in the room.

I appreciated the level of conversation and support the subject was getting and would like to add a couple of things that may be helpful in this part of the process.

In my strategic planning work with my clients we sometimes use methodology (and book by the same name) called Blue Ocean Strategy. In the book they use Cirque du Soleil as an example of how to use the levers of strategy. Cirque could have been just another circus and tried to compete with Barnum & Bailey on the normal service level things like quality of acts, cleanliness… In doing so they would have inevitably been in a race with Barnum and Bailey to commoditize the business where eventually they would have just competed on price. Instead, Cirque dramatically emphasized the theater quality experience and the artistic/musical elements which allowed them to attract a different audience at higher ticket prices. They also eliminated the most costly and difficult line items in the business – namely the animals and the name acts (the bearded lady…). These levers of strategy were differentiators that helped them identify and occupy a specific, defensible place in the market. They were not placed on the same level as other service level items and the results were dramatic.

In the same way, our city currently competes with every other city on things like safety, cleanliness and street paving… That has inevitably commoditized the business of city government where eventually we ultimately just compete on price (tax rates). In contrast, a Carbon Neutral strategy attracts affluent tourists, clean tech businesses and residents willing to pay more for that experience. This positioning also addresses Attorney Jenkins’ astute observation re the increased cost of recycled paper being in conflict with financial sustainability. When looked through the lens of carbon neutral and the environment, the answer is not either/or re the recycled paper, but to go paperless and eliminate all the costs associated with the paper, toner machines and the real estate to house it. In this digital age, people don’t need the experience of paper to get what they need from the city.

As with the Cirque example, the CN positioning is a differentiator that provides a revenue increase and cost savings that allows the city to have better services in terms of safety, schools… But if the CN positioning is lumped in with all other service items it loses its ability to be the kind of economic engine our city needs. Therefore, I urge you to adopt a positioning that will make Hermosa Beach the first Carbon Neutral City in the United States.

As always thank you for your time and attention to these important issues.


Robert Fortunato



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