The Yakima City Council took a step toward creating a sustainability board at its meeting Tuesday.
The city will put together an advisory board to provide recommendations to the city regarding sustainability and adverse effects of climate change.
Council members Kay Funk, Brad Hill, Eliana Macias and Soneya Lund voted to move forward with planning the board. Mayor Patricia Byers opposed the motion. Assistant Mayor Holly Cousens and council member Jason White were absent.
Funk said the board would address the communitywide concern of sustainability and climate change. It could consider projects including anaerobic digesters and methane capture, carbon neutrality in hop-growing, promoting recycling and drinking tap water, as well as other projects, Funk said.
Yakima resident Coleen Anderson supported the creation of a sustainability advisory board and encouraged the city to outline a sustainability action plan.
“We’re facing a climate crisis that threatens the future of life on Earth,” she said. “It’s comforting for me to know that our local elected leaders are committed to climate action and protecting public health and safety.”
Byers opposed the motion, saying the council already addressed climate change in a June resolution that supported the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty and SAFE cities policies. She also noted a high number of vacancies on existing city committees and strapped city resources for overseeing the groups.
“Rather than creating a committee that people are really stretched for already timewise, I’d like to see the community step forward and do this on their own as a group, and then approach City Council,” Byers said.
Funk said a city board is necessary to connect community input and planning for city services, such as solid waste, wastewater, stormwater and drinking water services, when addressing sustainability and climate change.
The attending council members also took unanimous action to make filling advisory board positions less burdensome. Incumbent members will no longer be required to reapply to continue to serve on a city advisory board. Their prior application and resume will be reviewed along with any new applications, the council decided.
Plan for pedestrians
A draft pedestrian plan was presented to the council Tuesday by city Senior Planner Trevor Martin and Erin David with Alta Planning and Design. The plan considers community input and makes recommendations for a safer and more complete system of sidewalks and crossings, David said during the presentation.
Yakima resident Neil McClure, who is the chair of the bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee, said the plan would be a useful tool for prioritizing projects and investments.
“It really does line out how to best use our funds into the future,” Mcclure said.
The council will review the final pedestrian master plan on Nov. 1.
In other action:
- The council approved an ordinance adding Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city employees. June 19, or Juneteenth, is a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to ensure all enslaved people were freed, about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The federal and state governments made it a holiday earlier this year.
- Council members also approved an ordinance to regulate the spreading of
- . The ordinance requires people to apply in advance to spread human cremains in city parks and pay a fee of $10. The ordinance goes into effect Nov. 18.