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Lynne Plambeck: A green stimulus package for Santa Clarita

Money

Posted: January 28, 2009 6:48 p.m.
Updated: January 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
While Washington and Sacramento Republicans continue to vote against stimulus packages and budgets, we have been putting on our thinking caps about where such money should go, when and if we get it.

Now don't get me wrong, I am just as outraged about all that money going to Wall Street banks as the next person on the street. The very government agencies many of us depended on to keep business honest, watch over the stock market for fraud and protect the investor, have failed us.

How could the Madoff affair have gone unnoticed? How could the banks have made such bad investments? But all that aside, what should our locally elected representatives be asking for if any of that glorious green comes our way? What is important to us in Santa Clarita?

At a time when the economy may be forcing even the most flamboyant of us to get back to basics, perhaps what's most basic to all of us in the Santa Clarita Valley, is the simple joy of being with friends and family in a healthy environment.

We want good schools for our children's education and parks for weekend recreation; libraries for reading materials; and most of all clean air and water to make these activities occur in a healthy environment for our families.

These activities are available in Santa Clarita thanks to our property taxes (yes, I said "thanks"). We pay for good schools, our city and county parks and our libraries with those taxes.

My use of the library alone is well worth the $25 a year on my property tax bill. But what about the clean air and water part? We are not doing so well in that category. And it will take big bucks and a change of lifestyle to improve our local air and water quality.

That's where those stimulus dollars are needed most - for these big projects that create jobs, change our lifestyles to reflect new and healthier ways of going about our daily lives, and clean up our air and water.

So here are just a few suggestions:

Santa Clarita "Off the Grid:" A group of folks have been meeting to suggest that grant money be directed to homeowner associations to enable them to put solar panels on carports and rooftops to generate the associations' energy needs (lighting, pool heating, etc).

It fits the bill - lots of jobs making and installing panels, and maintaining them once they are installed, as well as reduced energy production from coal power plants to clean the air - great idea.

Clean and soften our water supply: Our groundwater is naturally hard, and in some areas it is polluted with contaminants other than ammonium perchlorate that must be removed before it can be supplied to the public. How about stimulus money to help with these projects? They would create high-paying construction and engineering jobs and make our community less dependant on expensive and energy-intensive water from the Sacramento Delta.

Put water back in the river: Did you know that the largest single user of electricity in California is the State Water Project moving water from the Delta to Southern California? Some say the energy use is as high as 20 percent of all energy used in the state.

So how about funding to add an additional sanitation plant in the upper watershed? Tertiary treated water would then return the lost surface flow to the upper river reaches and re-charge our groundwater basin. Again, lots of high-paying jobs, less energy used to ship water from Northern California, less dependence on an over-extended Sacramento Delta and cleaner air from reduced energy usage.

Bike lanes and floodplain acquisition: How about more bike lanes to get people out of their cars and create added recreational opportunities as well as cleaner air? You might not think that acquiring land would help economically, but ensuring that our local groundwater re-charge areas are protected by acquiring floodplain will ensure that the Santa Clarita Valley has a sustainable water supply.

This is job insurance. Without an adequate water supply, many water-dependant jobs will be lost.

These are only a few of the "green jobs projects" that could be created with stimulus money. I know we all could think of many more.

Let's urge our local politicians to promote these ideas in both Sacramento and Washington and get us back to work while at the same time ensuring a healthy and clean environment for ourselves and our children.

Lynne Plambeck is a Santa Clarita Valley resident and president of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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