Hillcrest Town Council talks climate change

By Mary M. McKenzie

The Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) discussed local and global climate change on Tuesday, Feb. 13, with approximately 40 community members in attendance.

Mary McKenzie, HTC secretary and adjunct professor of political science at University of San Diego, spoke about the basic science of climate change and its global effects. Cody Hooven, chief sustainability officer for the city of San Diego, updated the crowd on the city’s Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Mary McKenzie (center) discussing the basic science of climate change and its global affects at the Feb. 13 meeting. (Photo by Benny Cartwright)

McKenzie shared some data from Al Gore’s CAP to show the various consequences of climate change. The atmospheric warming’s effects include changes in the incidence and strength of ocean-based storms, wildfires and drought. Additionally, our food cycle and biodiversity balance are changing. The chief culprit is the use of fossil fuels, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) worldwide. As a result of the Trump administration’s rejection of efforts to reduce GHG emissions, states and localities are stepping up to meet these challenges.

San Diego is a leader in these efforts, and Hooven clarified the city’s CAP at the meeting. Originally adopted in 2015, the plan aims to cut GHG emissions by half by 2035, support job growth in sustainability-related fields and enhance social equity by increasing community development funding. Hooven emphasized that the city is ahead of target on reducing emissions, with the level decreasing by 19.3 percent since the 2010 baseline. Other strategies include improving energy and water efficiency; increasing biking, walking, and public transportation; and reducing waste to zero. For more information, visit

During public comment, the audience first heard from Tracy Childs. Childs is the co-founder of PlantDiego, a local organization whose goal is to educate the public about the benefits of a plant-based diet. PlantDiego will be showing the film “Plant Pure Nation” on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Joyce Beers Center.

Long-time Hillcrest resident Rene Smith announced a November ballot initiative he is introducing to help improve the infrastructure at Balboa Park.

Kaimi Wenger, HTC Advisory Committee member, circulated a petition for a ballot measure which would close loopholes on the prohibition of cages in raising farm animals.

Zach Bunshaft of Congresswoman Susan Davis’ office noted (in absentia) that Rep. Davis opposes offshore oil drilling. Toni Duran emphasized that state Sen. Toni Atkins has introduced several bills, including one that increases access for women suffering from cervical cancer, education about human trafficking, and funding to allow victims of violent crimes to take their pets with them. She also noted that Sen. Atkins will become the first woman to hold the post of president pro tempore of the California Senate on Wednesday, March 21.

Hillcrest’s San Diego Police Department (SDPD) neighborhood representatives Ricardo Pinon and David Surwilo spoke to the crowd about pedestrian accidents, illegal encampments under the Vermont Street Bridge, and about the replacement for Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman: Assistant Chief David Nisleit, who is a 30-year veteran of SDPD.

Hillcrest Town Council meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the Joyce Beers Community Center. Elections for two positions of the HTC board of directors will be held on Tuesday, March 13. HTC always welcomes new volunteers. If you have any comments or questions, look for the HTC on Facebook or contact Kath Rogers at

— Mary M. McKenzie is secretary of the Hillcrest Town Council.

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