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Guiding Principles

Sustainable City Plan - Guiding Principles

The Santa Monica Sustainable City Plan is founded on eleven guiding principles that provide the basis from which effective and sustainable decisions can be made.

1. The Concept of Sustainability Guides City Policy
  Santa Monica is committed to meeting its existing needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The long-term impacts of policy choices will be considered to ensure a sustainable legacy.

2. Protection, Preservation, and Restoration of the Natural Environment is a High Priority of the City
  Santa Monica is committed to protecting, preserving and restoring the natural environment. City decision-making will be guided by a mandate to maximize environmental benefits and reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts. The City will lead by example and encourage other community stakeholders to make a similar commitment to the environment.

3. Environmental Quality, Economic Health and Social Equity are Mutually Dependent
  Sustainability requires that our collective decisions as a city allow our economy and community members to continue to thrive without destroying the natural environment upon which we all depend. A healthy environment is integral to the city’s long-term economic and societal interests. In achieving a healthy environment, we must ensure that inequitable burdens are not placed on any one geographic or socioeconomic sector of the population and that the benefits of a sustainable community are accessible to all members of the community.

4. All Decisions Have Implications to the Long-term Sustainability of Santa Monica
  The City will ensure that each of its policy decisions and programs are interconnected through the common bond of sustainability as expressed in these guiding principles. The policy and decision-making processes of the City will reflect our sustainability objectives. The City will lead by example and encourage other community stakeholders to use sustainability principles to guide their decisions and actions.

5. Community Awareness, Responsibility, Participation and Education are Key Elements of a Sustainable Community
  All community members, including individual citizens, community-based groups, businesses, schools and other institutions must be aware of their impacts on the environmental, economic and social health of Santa Monica, must take responsibility for reducing or eliminating those impacts, and must take an active part in community efforts to address sustainability concerns. The City will therefore be a leader in the creation and sponsorship of education opportunities to support community awareness, responsibility and participation in cooperation with schools, colleges and other organizations in the community.

6. Santa Monica Recognizes Its Linkage with the Regional, National, and Global Community
  Local environmental, economic and social issues cannot be separated from their broader context. This relationship between local issues and regional, national and global issues will be recognized and acted upon in the City's programs and policies. The City's programs and policies should therefore be developed as models that can be emulated by other communities. The City will also act as a strong advocate for the development and implementation of model programs and innovative approaches by regional, state and federal government that embody the goals of sustainability.

7. Those Sustainability Issues Most Important to the Community Will be Addressed First, and the Most Cost-Effective Programs and Policies Will be Selected
  The financial and human resources which are available to the City are limited. The City and the community will reevaluate its priorities and its programs and policies annually to ensure that the best possible investments in the future are being made. The evaluation of a program's cost-effectiveness will be based on a complete analysis of the associated costs and benefits, including environmental and social costs and benefits.

8. The City is Committed to Procurement Decisions which Minimize Negative Environmental and Social Impacts
  The procurement of products and services by the City and Santa Monica residents, businesses and institutions results in environmental, social and economic impacts both in this country and in other areas of the world. The City will develop and abide by an environmentally and socially responsible procurement policy that emphasizes long-term values and will become a model for other public as well as private organizations. The City will advocate for and assist other local agencies, businesses and residents in adopting sustainable purchasing practices.

9. Cross-sector Partnerships Are Necessary to Achieve Sustainable Goals
  Threats to the long-term sustainability of Santa Monica are multi-sector in their causes and require multi-sector solutions. Partnerships among the City government, businesses, residents and all community stakeholders are necessary to achieve a sustainable community.

10. The Precautionary Principle Provides a Complimentary Framework to Help Guide City Decision-Makers in the Pursuit of Sustainability
  The Precautionary Principle requires a thorough exploration and careful analysis of a wide range of alternatives, and a full cost accounting beyond short-term and monetary transaction costs. Based on the best available science, the Precautionary Principle requires the selection of alternatives that present the least potential threat to human health and the City’s natural systems. Where threats of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the City to not adopt mitigating measures to prevent the degradation of the environment or protect the health of its citizens. Public participation and an open and transparent decision making process are critical to finding and selecting alternatives.

11. Santa Monica is Committed to Sustainable Rights for its Residents, Natural Communities and Ecosystems
  The Sustainability Bill of Rights codifies the commitments made in the Sustainable City Plan and asserts the fundamental rights of all Santa Monica residents regarding sustainability. It establishes the rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist and flourish in Santa Monica and asserts the rights of residents to enforce those rights on behalf of the environment.
Last updated: Monday, 09/22/2014


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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
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