NP Main Street launches next phase of sustainability initiative
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
North Park Main Street hosted a launch party and information session Feb. 20 regarding their multi-year Sustainable North Park initiative, outlining plans and asking for feedback on the project that will help change the face – and the footprint – of one of Uptown’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
Held at Casa de Luz at 2920 University Ave., over 100 local business owners and community stakeholders listened to presentations and discussed environmental changes in North Park.
“What we’re doing with this initiative is immensely important,” said Angela Landsberg, North Park Main Street executive director. “I see this as an opportunity to create something that’s going to supply resources, as well as information, that will empower businesses.”
Branded North Park EcoDistrict, the goal of the community-based initiative is to “foster a sustainable green economy” that is grounded in keeping the historical and cultural integrity of the area. Many of the North Park plans were modeled after a similar EcoDistrict in Portland, Ore.
Funding for the initiative comes in part from a second “Historic Communities are Green Communities” grant, administered by the California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation. The $22,500 grant is to continue the work North Park Main Street has already overseen, and includes educating the public about their preservation and sustainability goals, establishing carbon and water footprint baselines, and inventorying greenhouse gas emissions.
The baseline energy usage tool will be launched soon, Landsberg said, where business owners can calculate how many kilowatts they are using and then go to North Park Main Street for guidance on how to decrease usage.
“Once we have a baseline for either our greenhouse gas output [or] energy usage, that will allow us to then target certain areas,” Landsberg said. “If we’re high in certain areas and want to work on those, then we’ll know where to go. We first have to have that baseline.”
While acknowledging terms and implementation can get both technical and difficult for some to comprehend, Landsberg said her main goal was to make the process – which is already happening – as user friendly as possible.
“We wanted to make people aware of the fact that they’re already participating in a lot of the things that will constitute an EcoDistrict,” she said.
The recently complete bike corral at 30th Street and North Park Way, as well as the upcoming “parklet” planned in front of Caffé Calabria at 3933 30th St. are two projects that fall into their overall sustainability goals.
“Everything that promotes a pedestrian-friendly environment is going to be a part of it,” she said. The parklet will be installed in late spring or early summer.
The project originated in 2009 when California Historic Preservation Officer Wayne Donaldson challenged the business district to implement the state’s first Sustainable Main Street program. The response, Landsberg said, was overwhelming.
“One of the great things about this community is so many people have been on board with creating a green business district for quite a while,” she said. “There’s an awareness there. The people who live and work in this community have a certain consciousness that I think makes an EcoDistrict a perfect thing.”
The San Diego Green Building Council, another stakeholder in the initiative, helped organize the Feb. 20 outreach event. Doug Kot, executive director, said North Park was a leader in change.
“One of the great things about North Park Main Street and the work that’s been done over the years is they have a really deep understanding of where they started from,” he said.
Kot outlined the basic characteristics his organization sees as important for neighborhoods, one that looks at where a community is, where it would like to be, and how to measure the successes or failures in achieving those goals.
Saying we have “far more choice” in how neighborhoods are shaped, Kot explained he wanted to help communities not only discover those choices, but help implement them.
“In the instance of North Park Main Street, they are already out of the gate. They’ve done a lot of this work on their own, so we’re here to celebrate that story,” he said.
In addition to the Office of Historical Preservation and Green Building Council, the North Park EcoDistrict is funded by San Diego Gas & Electric, and Landsberg said she is already hearing from other organizations interested in supporting the project.
“I’m hoping that through this process we will gain attention from other funding sources that will allow us to expand on what we’re currently doing,” she said.
To help with continual efforts in getting the word out, Landsberg said the North Park EcoDistrict would be scheduling future meetings where people could brainstorm, a process she said was where a lot of innovative ideas are first explored.
The meet-ups will be promoted on the new North Park EcoDistrict website – northparkecodistrict.com – as well as the organization’s Facebook page. For more information call 619-403-9208.