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Environment Enthusiasts Moderate Healthy Communities Forum

San Mateo County activists and government officials coalesced in San Mateo to generate ideas for environmentally conscious policies.

The development of an environmentally conscious purchasing policy for government is something that should be prioritized by city officials, say San Mateo County environmental activists.

About 40 people gathered at the Thursday night to discuss ways that the county can create more healthy communities.

"Meetings like this one lay the framework for sustainability solutions to the environmental problems we all face now, but that our children will endure if we don't take action,” said Raymond Mueller, Menlo Park Transportation Commissioner, who was one of the event's hosts.

Five San Mateo County business leaders led brainstorming workshops that evening, all of which revolved around the theme “Green Businesses & Resilient Economies.” One of those individuals was Kim Springer, City/County Association of Governments Staff Member.

Springer was in charge of a group tasked with identifying core concepts that government officials should incorporate into regional public policy.

His group produced five:

1) Government should educate the public about green choices.

2) People need standards and certification, especially labeling, so purchasers know that a product is really green.

3) The ways that economic conditions impact people’s ability to afford green products.

4) Government should have environmental purchasing policy.

5) There should be programs that incentivize and influence people to go in the right direction.

Mike Leppen, South San Francisco’s economic development coordinator, led the discussion in a group that focused on what cities could do. They ideated the following concepts:

1) Public engagement should be given higher priority. The inability for people to communicate with their elected officials frustrates. 

2) City governments on the Peninsula should not compete with each other and work together.

3) Cities should make using alternative transportation easier.

4) Businesses should be offered the opportunity to purchase solar panels in bulk and get a reduced cost.

This is the third event in the "Healthy Communities Forum” series.  It was sponsored by Sustainable San Mateo County, The Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, Redwood City 2020, The Greenbelt Alliance and other environmentally conscious organizations.

The fourth forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. on September 15 at the School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose. That forum will address the topic of “Resilient Economies for Healthy Cities.”

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