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Sustainability Bill of Rights Comes Closer to Fruition

The Task Force on the Environment passes a draft of the bill at Monday's meeting.

Santa Monica's Sustainability Bill of Rights took a step forward Monday night when the passed a draft of the bill by a 4-1 vote. The draft now moves on to the for review, but several items are still up for amending before that happens.

The intent of the Sustainability Bill of Rights is to protect the rights of residents and natural ecosystems in Santa Monica. The bill would function in tandem with Santa Monica's 2006 Sustainable City Plan.

At the task force's meeting, which was held at the , the panel concluded that, until the Sustainable City Plan is updated, certain details of the ordinance would have to be determined at a later date. (The plan is slated to be submitted in July or September, according to Sustainable City Coordinator Shannon Parry.)

Several of the ordinance’s key clauses would be affected by the Sustainable City Plan, including the city’s standing on . The ordinance defines sustainable food systems for Santa Monica to include fair-trade practices, pollution control and a maximum distance of 500 miles for the origination of all food products in Santa Monica.

Some of the numbers in the ordinance seemed unrealistic and questionable to a few of the task force members. For example, the ordinance states that the city would try to achieve 25 percent self-sufficiency from sustainable food systems by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030.

However, Task Force Chair said the figures should be perceived as “placeholders” and could be adjusted.

Not all Task Force members were satisfied with the draft, however. Rob Lempert argued in a four-page report that there would be “unintended consequences” if rights of nature were granted to nonhuman entities. Doing so could strengthen the rights of corporations, he argued.

Lempert also said the current draft of the ordinance had been “watered down” and that it wouldn't be transformative.

For Gold, “The whole point is to force a difficult dialogue on some really complex and important issues, on what’s going on in this city, in this state, in this country and globally, " he said. "Frankly, that sort of dialogue doesn’t happen enough here. … It’s gonna be good for this community.”

A copy of the ordinance to create the Sustainability Bill of Rights can be found here.

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