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Why a Carbon Neutral Hermosa Beach at Leadership Hermosa Beach?
by Robert Fortunato on February 25th, 2013 No Comments

Our city runs an excellent program called Leadership Hermosa Beach which teaches an active civics lesson while overviewing the operations the city departments.  The program also engages each of the students in a class project for the betterment of the city.  Hats off to all the volunteers like Ryan and Karen Nowicki who make this program a success. Robert went through the program in the class of 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed it and all the friends he made in the process.

Each year the program thoughtfully sets aside one session to discuss environmental issues and Robert was again asked to participate on the panel.  Unfortunately, Robert was out of town on that date so he asked Former Mayor George Schmeltzer to step in.  George did a great job, but we didn’t think it was fair to burden George with the Carbon neutral topic in addition to all the others he is moving forward. George was nice enough to read our statement below during the program:


Why a Carbon NeutralHermosa Beach?

Dear Leadership Hermosa Class of 2013,

As a Leadership Hermosa alum, 17 year resident and Owner/Builder of the Green Idea House, I appreciate the invitation to speak on this important topic and honor your commitment to the betterment of our wonderful city.  I wish I could be there with you, but a prior commitment has me out of town.

Nonetheless, thank you for inquiring about the city’s Carbon Neutral commitment.  Carbon Neutral in it’s simplest terms is harvesting as much energy from renewable sources as you use on an annualized basis.  Even if you don’t care about polar ice caps and the environment, this is an idea that deserves your attention for health and economic reasons.

From a health standpoint, the particulates from the burning of fossil fuels cause heart disease, lung disease and cancer. Wipe your finger on any window sill in the city and you will see the black soot that is the carcinogen that we are all taking in with every breath.  We are blocks from the ocean and should have very clean air and we don’t.  Our children and elderly deserve better than that.

As a Wharton trained economist, I also look at it from an economic standpoint.  Carbon Neutral is the next industrial revolution.  Other countries around the world like Germany, Japan, Denmark and even China are taking the technologies that we invented and getting the jump on us, creating clean tech jobs and reshaping their economies in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way.  We deserve to have these jobs and opportunities for our economy.

As a result ofHermosa Beach’s small size, lack of heavy industry and access to plentiful renewable energy, we have an opportunity to be the firstCarbonNeutralCityinSouthern California!  That distinction would allow us to get grants and other monies for projects to support our Carbon Neutral effort.  We have already received a $410K grant to do a Carbon Neutral overlay of our general plan.  In addition to the health benefits,  this sustainable development would be a boon for our local economy and draw in clean tech jobs and eco-tourists.

Also, our city is facing one of the biggest decisions in our history.  In a number of months, citizens will need to vote on an oil drilling project.  Having a substantive carbon neutral commitment in place in advance of that vote would be of benefit to all residents if the vote turns out to be a yes or a no.  If the citizens vote no, the grants and other monies from a Carbon Neutral positioning will be needed to offset the $17.5 million we will owe to the oil company.  If the vote is yes, a Carbon Neutral commitment will set the tone for any and all development in the city in a way that an Environmental Impact or Coastal Commission Report is unable to do.  Responsible developers will understand the value to their projects of building in a way that helps the city achieve its Carbon Neutral goals.  And as our Green Idea House case study proved, it is possible to build Carbon Neutral for the same cost as standard construction.

In the City Council’s most recent strategic planning session, Carbon Neutrality received the highest number of votes of any of their major goals.  The only thing left to be done is for City Council members to come back with a timeline that directs the $410K Carbon Neutral planning grant.  In the City Council’s next strategic planning session council members can direct the planners to create goals that will potentially have us be the first Carbon Neutral city inSouthern California.  A Carbon Neutral commitment with aggressive timelines accelerates great projects like Blue Zones, Bikeways and Living Streets and will make us all proud of our achievements from a economic, environmental and health perspective.

If you are interested in the subject and would like to find out more, please feel free to contact me at

Best of luck in your conversations this evening.


Robert Fortunato

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