City Council Meeting January 24, 2012                               Santa Monica, California

RESOLUTION NUMBER (CCS)

(City Council Series)

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL
OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA DECLARING THE CITY’S COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE RIGHTS

 

WHEREAS, the City of Santa Monica recognizes the following rights of the people of Santa Monica: the right to clean, affordable and accessible water from sustainable water sources for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes; the right to a sustainable energy future based on sustainable renewable energy sources; the right to a sustainable natural climate unaltered by fossil fuel emissions; the right to sustainable, comprehensive waste disposal systems that do not degrade the environment; the right to clean indoor and outdoor air, clean water and clean soil that pose a negligible health risk to the public; and the right to a sustainable food system that provides healthy, locally grown food to the community; and

WHEREAS, the City of Santa Monica recognizes the rights of natural communities and ecosystems within Santa Monica to exist, thrive and evolve; and

WHEREAS, because the City of Santa Monica recognizes that its future welfare depends upon the welfare of the natural environment, the City has long been committed to protecting, preserving and restoring the environment; and

WHEREAS, the City's Sustainable City Plan declares that a healthy environment is integral to the City's long-term economic and societal interests and that, accordingly, the City's decision-making will be guided by the mandate to maximize environmental benefits and reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts; and

WHEREAS, the Sustainable City Plan also establishes that, because local environmental issues cannot be separated from their broader context, the City's programs and policies should be developed as models that can be emulated by other communities; and

WHEREAS, in furtherance of these commitments and goals, the City must regularly evaluate whether its plans, laws, and programs are sufficient to meet the growing environmental crisis; and

WHEREAS, it has become apparent that existing local, national and international policies and laws in general have proven to be fundamentally inadequate to ensure environmental sustainability, and that the growing environmental crisis necessitates re-examination of the underlying societal and legal assumptions about our relationships with the environment; and


WHEREAS, in the last fifty years, national and state governments have attempted to address the mounting crisis by adopting specific environmental protection laws, such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act and California Environmental Quality Act, that limit pollution and resource consumption; but those laws also have proven inadequate to provide long-term protection of our rights to clean air, water, and soil, and sustainable food systems, and the rights of natural ecosystems; and

WHEREAS, our current  legal system classifies the natural world as human property, which may be used by its human owners for their own, private economic benefit, generally with minimal regard for the health of the environment; and

WHEREAS, with the exponential growth of the human population and increasing per capita resource consumption rates, human consumption of the Earth's natural resources has intensified to the point that the planet lacks the capacity to sustain man's current way of life and is responding in ways destructive to most organisms on the planet; and

WHEREAS, to address the crisis, the world-wide, national and local environmental communities are urging governments to adopt a new paradigm based upon recognition that people have fundamental environmental rights, as do natural communities and ecosystems, that the health of the world’s populations and ecosystems depends on the full protection of these rights, and that asserted corporate rights cannot take precedence over these rights to human and environmental health and well-being; and

WHEREAS, there are numerous examples of policy statements and laws based on this new paradigm that recognize the rights of the natural world to exist, thrive and evolve; and

WHEREAS, Ecuador amended its constitution to include the rights of nature in 2008, with the first successful case applying that right concluding in March 2011; and

WHEREAS, in December 2010, the City of Pittsburgh became the first major city in the United States to adopt a Community Bill of Rights that bans corporations from drilling natural gas within its city limits and elevates the rights of people, the community, and nature over corporate rights; and

WHEREAS, the City of Spokane placed a similar measure on its ballot that would have, among other things, amended the City Charter to establish the right of the Spokane River and Aquifer to exist and flourish, and to empower both individuals and the City to sue to enforce these rights; and

WHEREAS, other municipalities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New York have adopted similar measures recognizing the rights of people and natural communities and including language that would subordinate the rights of corporations to local sustainability efforts; and

WHEREAS,  Santa Monica's own Task Force on the Environment has studied this growing movement and recommended that the City support it as a means of effectuating the commitments and goals already established by the Sustainable City Plan, and of recognizing the inherent rights of the people and natural communities of the City of Santa Monica.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA DOES RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.  The City of Santa Monica recognizes the following rights of the people of Santa Monica: the right to clean, affordable and accessible water from sustainable water sources for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes; the right to a sustainable energy future based on sustainable renewable energy sources; the right to a sustainable natural climate unaltered by fossil fuel emissions; the right to sustainable, comprehensive waste disposal systems that do not degrade the environment; the right to clean indoor and outdoor air, clean water and clean soil that pose a negligible health risk to the public; and the right to a sustainable food system that provides healthy, locally grown food to the community.

SECTION 2.  The City of Santa Monica supports local recognition of the fundamental rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist, thrive and evolve.

SECTION 3. The City of Santa Monica supports effectuating these rights by modifying local law and policy as needed to better protect and sustain, for current and future generations, the natural environment upon which we all depend.   

SECTION 4. The City Council of the City of Santa Monica directs staff to return during 2012, in conjunction with the update of the Sustainable City Plan, with proposals for policy, process and legal changes, including a possible ordinance that would protect the inherent rights of the people and natural communities of this City to clean air, water and soil, and to a sustainable climate, as described in this Resolution.

SECTION 5.The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this Resolution, and thenceforth and thereafter the same shall be in full force and effect.

APPROVED AS TO FORM:

 

 

_________________________

MARSHA JONES MOUTRIE

City Attorney