About Sustainable Novato

108Sustainable Novato is an all-volunteer community non-profit that works to enable and encourage more sustainable living in our city.  SN has helped the City of Novato to adopt a climate action plan, Continue Reading →

Read full story

Modern Roundabouts Just Plain Work Better than Outdated Stop Signs and Lights – Find out Why

“Modern roundabouts are environmentally friendly, attractive and safe.  They ease traffic congestion, keep traffic moving, and reduce carbon pollution from cars.  If we aim at more sustainable transportation, more roundabouts might help”

Click on the link below to read why:

Roundabouts – The Better Solution

Read full story

Novato residents fixing up Hamilton SMART station – IJ Report / Plus KCBS Audio

On a recent afternoon, Donn Davy could be found doubled over replacing a defective valve at Hamilton’s SMART station in Novato.

Under the searing midday sun, the 70-year-old, wearing boots and a wide-brimmed fedora, wrapped up a day’s work on a nearly complete irrigation system he installed at the station in southern Novato near Marin Gate Road.

Davy is not a Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit employee. He is a volunteer who spearheaded a yearlong campaign to install trees and plants to beautify Hamilton’s barren neighborhood station.

“I heard that SMART had zero budget for landscaping on this big piece of property,” Davy said. “That just didn’t make any sense to me, because I know what the weeds are like out here. They won’t do it. I said, ‘Let’s see if we can do it ourselves.’”


SMART initially planned to landscape its stations in Marin and Sonoma counties. But beautification was deferred due to a lack of funding, said Bill Gamlen, SMART’s chief engineer.

“We’ve been so focused on getting it up and running and getting passengers on the train, we haven’t spent much time talking about landscaping,” Gamlen said.

About 30 residents and the Hamilton Field Community Development Foundation have taken it upon themselves since last winter to acquire and plant 90 oak trees, shrubs, flowers and seeds in dirt plots around the station’s concrete platform at the 5-acre site.

California live oaks and eastern red oaks were planted along the perimeter. The foot-tall trees were donated by Homeward Bound of Marin, a nonprofit provider of shelter and residential services for homeless people and families.

With $2,800 chipped in from local residents, volunteers bought dozens of native and drought-tolerant plants. Residents over five days prepped the area’s rocky soil, bore holes into the earth and planted the oak trees and dozens of coffeeberry, toyon and juncus, among other plants

“So far it’s been funded by those of us who have shown up for all these meetings and shown up to dig holes to put the plants in,” said Paul Herrerias, 61, a Hamilton resident who has been involved in the beautification effort.

Herrerias became concerned early on when he noticed trees and other landscaping were not put in as construction on the station wrapped up.

“When they built the station, they put in medians in the parking lot, but they didn’t pull any water pipe to the medians and, of course, when they floated the bonds, they had pretty pictures with landscaping to go in at Hamilton station. It never happened.”

He said one of the next steps for the project is to gather more community support to continue purchasing plants. He said he would also like to see signs installed that describe the greenery and welcome people to the station.

The group is in the process of receiving a $10,000 Marin County community service grant. But at least another $10,000 is needed, Davy said.

Davy himself put in $6,000, and with the help of a neighbor’s tractor he personally installed an irrigation system. Since July, he has put in up to eight hours a day to trench and install the watering system. Residents have committed to paying to water the landscaping while SMART works with North Marin Water District to get recycled water for irrigation, Gamlen said. The agency secured a water meter for the project.

The goal is to transform the site in three years, Davy said.

“Anything is better than the natural, whatever would spring up there, which is star thistle,” he said. “And this year it’s this really pungent, oily weed.”

The plan over the next two years is to continue planting more shrubs and other flora.

Residents near Novato’s San Marin station also have jumped on board to beautify their neighborhood station, and have begun sketching out initial plans for how they will move forward, Gamlen said.

He said residents living near stations with space to landscape are encouraged to take a similar approach.

“It’s a great way to embrace the station and make it a part of the community,” Gamlen said.


Also covered on KCBS radio, which can be heard here:

KCBS’s Anna Duckworth reports the effort started when the volunteers lead by Donn Davy learned the transit agency lacked the funding to get the job done.  They are volunteering their time to beautify the Hamilton station in the southern part of town.

Read full story

Novato City Council Pledges 100% Clean Energy

Novato Pledges Move to 100% Clean Energy

At their September 12 meeting, the Novato City Council unanimously voted to join the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, an initiative of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Campaign, which calls on all Mayors in cities and towns across the United States to support a vision of 100% clean and renewable energy for their communities. Novato is the first city in Marin to endorse this community-wide goal of transitioning to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050.

In June, the United States Conference of Mayors, representing over 1,400 cities, adopted a historic resolution establishing support for the 100% clean and renewable energy goal in all member cities nationwide. Novato now joins the ranks of other Bay Area cities including San Jose, San Francisco, and Palo Alto committed to this goal.

“As Mayor, it gives me great pride to have brought this item forward for our Council to consider,” said Mayor Denise Athas. “Novato is a true leader in this important effort. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to have local control on important climate issues that affect our future and the future of generations to come.”

In recent months, Novato has taken many steps to address climate change and to demonstrate its commitment to becoming a sustainable city. In July 2017, the City also joined the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda to raise the collective voice of cities working towards climate solutions and to build the political will for U.S. leadership on climate change.

“Novato continues to be at the forefront of sustainability,” said City Manager Regan Candelario. “Whether it was integrating recycled water into our irrigation systems, converting our streetlights to energy-efficient LEDs, or being a leader in Green Building standards, our goal has always been to reduce our impact on the environment and improve Novatans quality of life.

” The City also recently hired its first Sustainability Coordinator, Gretchen Schubeck, who will be working full time to implement the City’s Climate Action Plan and help the City and its residents reduce their collective carbon footprint.

Max Perrey, Chair of the Sierra Club Marin Group, enthusiastically endorsed the City’s action by saying, “The Sierra Club is proud of the action taken by the Novato City Council. From joining MCE’s 100% renewable Deep Green option for municipal energy use, to hiring a full-time Sustainability Coordinator, Novato is already making strides this year towards the clean energy future that we need.”

“The time to act on climate change is now, and the Sierra Club is proud to count Novato among the over 150 cities to sign onto the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign to have 100% energy use within the city limits come from renewable energy sources. Setting the goal is just the first step towards the hard work of implementation. We look forward to working with the Mayor, Councilmembers and City staff to make this goal a reality.”

For more information on the City of Novato’s sustainability efforts, visit www.novato.org/sustainability or e-mail gschubeck@novato.org.

Read full story

“Rising Seas in California” Report – Get it here

The State has just released “Rising Seas in California,” that includes emerging science on the Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets. In calm, science-based language, the report puts the public on notice that things are changing at a faster rate. “Previously underappreciated glaciological processes, examined in the research of the last five years, have the potential to greatly increase the probability of extreme global sea-level rise (6 feet or more) within this century if emissions continue unabated.” The report also notes how for every foot of global SLR from Antarctica, California will get 1.25 feet. Special! In May-June, the State will hold workshops on how to use the new science.

Read full story

City of Novato Goes “Deep Green” in Commitment to Sustainability

Novato upgrades to 100% renewable sources energy plan

City Council unanimously votes to participate in Marin Clean Energy’s (MCE) Deep Green/100% Renewable Energy Program

At their May 2 meeting, the Novato City Council unanimously voted to participate in Marin Clean Energy’s (MCE) Deep Green/100% Renewable Energy Program, in which all the energy used comes from renewable sources—50% wind and 50% solar generated in California. Additionally, the Council vote included  conducting energy audits on City facilities to further reduce energy use.

“This year we are taking our commitment to sustainability to the next level,” said Mayor Denise Athas. “We are going beyond only greening our city operations and vehicle fleets. We are investing in programs and staffing to set a new standard for climate leadership and ensure a sustainable future for our community.”

Currently, the City is a participant in MCE’s Light Green program, which means at least 50% of the City’s electricity is being provided by renewable sources. For the past year, MCE has been able to provide 52% renewable energy, which is broken down as follows: Wind: 36%, Biomass/bio-waste, geothermal and small hydro: 11%, Solar: 5%. The remaining portion of the City’s electricity is generated through large hydroelectric, gas and unspecific sources of power (as reported by the California Energy Commission’s Power Source Disclosure Program).

MCE partners with PG&E to give residents and businesses choices about how much of their electricity comes from renewable sources. There are currently three different levels of MCE participation customers can choose from:

1) Light Green: 50% of energy used comes from renewable sources.

2) Deep Green: 100% of energy used comes from renewable sources.

3) Local Sol: 100% of energy used is locally produced solar energy (program is limited to residential customers).

The City’s participation in the Deep Green program, a stated goal in the City’s adopted Climate Change Action Plan, will save approximately 300 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which would meet 86% of the City’s 2020 target to reduce its emission levels.

Within the last 12 months, the City used 1,691,381 kilowatts per hour of electricity. The cost to participate in the Deep Green program is one cent ($.01) per kilowatt hour of energy used, which translates to approximately $17,000, or an increase of about 5% per year.

As part of the City’s commitment to sustainability, the City Council recently approved the hiring of a full-time Sustainability Programs Coordinator to manage the administration and implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan and support community action plans, sustainability strategies, and local and regional energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

Novato residents can enroll in MCE’s Deep Green program online: www.mcecleanenergy.org or by calling 888.632.3671.

Read full story

Alternatives to Cancer-causing Roundup

Below is a speech made by Mary Fraser regarding Roundup and related documents are attached:

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Mary Fraser. I am a board member of the Pesticide Free Zone. I am here tonite to talk about alternatives to using toxic pesticides in landscape maintenance.

As many of you know, The World Health Organization has classified the main ingredient, glyphosate in the most widely used pesticide, Roundup, as a probable human carcinogen. I have a 2 page brochure that I will pass out that gives 12 reasons why spray free streets and parks are so important, so I’m not going to say any more about that.

Now, all of us wish that there was one magical element that could replace pesticides and for small scale applications, there actually is. It’s called VODKA. Spray it on a plant that is bathed in sunlight and the plant dies.

But for larger scale landscapes, the key to remember is there’s no one answer, it’s not like conventional landscaping. It’s a whole strategy that has a lot of elements that have to build together and intertwine to work properly.

One of the main strategies is understanding your soil and plants. Most of the pesticides used destroy the microbes in the soil and also bind up many of the nutrients, which are then unavailable to plants. Microbes and plants work together .So, test your soil. Add the missing nutrients and compost to accelerate the restoration of healthy soil and healthy plants. Plants that thrive out compete weeds, so your maintenance costs go down.

Marin County Parks is working on transitioning to organic practices. The golf course at McInnis is 99% organic and one of the keys to their success is compost tea. They brew it onsite and apply it several times a year. Another key to their success is in using the right plant. They are changing some of the grass varieties on the golf course. So double check the plants you are using. SF has redone a number of their medians with native plants that need no weeding.

There are new mechanical means of weeding that are getting a lot of attention. One is the use of flame throwers. Back pack mounted propane tanks fuel flame heads. They can kill individual weeds or sterilize an entire seed bed. [A disadvantage of this is the CO2 that is released.]  Another interesting development out of Australia are steam weeders. I have brought an ad from WeedTechnics with their three basic models. They can be used in all kinds of weather and one model is large enough for orchards and row crops.

In conclusion, I am going to leave you the executive summary of a document called “Advancing Alternatives”. Created in 2000, it’s a little dated but it will give you concrete examples of successful least toxic management programs.

Thank you.



Read full story