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Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

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August 7, 2013 Meeting Summary

Attendees: Bill Beamer, Vivian Satterfield, Kristey Nguyen, Linda Nettekoven, Claudia Arana Colen, Tram Long (Upstream intern), Amanda Kelley Lopez, Rachael Hoy, Julia Meier, Duncan Hwang, Demi Espinoza

Project Staff:
Tim Lynch – MultnomahCounty, Program Coordinator
Michele Crim – Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Program Manager
Desiree Williams-Rajee – Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Equity Specialist
Taren Evans – Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Climate Action Plan Equity Intern

Content/Technical Staff:
AndriaJacob – City ofPortland, Energy Efficiency Programs
Jaimes Valdez – City of Portland, Energy Efficiency Programs
Vinh Mason – City of Portland, Green Building Programs

Process Updates:

  • Moving forward, the worksheets are due to Desiree on Thursday, the day after the work group meeting.
  • Was the fact sheet useful? In the end, the non-technical descriptions were more useful. As such, the fact sheets won’t be made in the future…however if members feel they need additional information while reviewing the worksheets, they are encouraged to ask and staff will develop materials or responses to assist.
  • At the end of the meeting, let Desiree know how many copies of the documents per organization to make.

Buildings and Energy Discussion:

  • Staff are very interested in getting feedback on the wording of the actions in order to make them more accessible to the public. The non-technical descriptions, if they work well, might be a good example of how to think about rewording the actions.
  • Following up from the technical call:
    • About 25% of new homes are getting an energy performance score, and the MLS service is now including a spot to include the EPS.
    • There are two bonuses to help incentivize affordable housing – they have not been used by developers. So, it is clear those bonuses are not a functional tool. There may be ways to make that tool more functional and/or to utilize other tools (e.g. developer agreements). With some of the URAs expiring…what happens with those menu of incentives?
  • A community benefit agreement could be a useful tool to extend the benefits of development, similar to or part of development agreements. There is a larger workforce agreement model in place, that might be a useful item to follow-up on. Desiree will look up more information on the Metropolitan Alliance for Workforce Equity and send it out to the group.
  • One of the benefits of the Clean Energy Works Oregon provides a good example, although there are some clear lessons learned related to not achieving the goals. There are other good community benefit agreements (e.g.StaplesCenterinCalifornia) to look at as well.
  • With programs like Clean Energy Works Oregon – there are opportunities for low-income communities and communities of color to get their homes weatherized, as well as benefits for workforce development. However, the results show that almost all of the weatherization projects were for white homeowners. Not sure about the contracting data – how many contractors of color are situated to take advantage of contract opportunities. There is a lot of good in the CEWO model, however there are lessons to learn to carry a model like that forward.
  • It might be interesting to see, from the experience from CEWO, are there lessons that are applicable to both efficiency in general, but also workforce development?
  • Most of the equity goals of CEWO were very focused on workforce development. The program was not a good fit for low-income homes due to the debt obligations and a desire not to over-burden low-income homeowners.
  • In terms of workforce development, there has been less success with creating opportunities for African American men - with more success with women, veterans, formerly-incarcerated individuals and other people of color.
  • Given the limited ability of the City/County to directly regulate energy – is there a benefit to incorporate more actions related to community engagement (beyond or in addition to what is in the Community Engagement chapter)? Not sure where it belongs the best – but there is a general need to add a focus on community partnership and engagement, including community-based outreach, in the document.
  • What is meant by “partner organizations” – should the actions be more specific? Does commercial include churches or places for community-based organizations? What about tenants of buildings (versus the building owners)?
    • In this case, partners are the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), who receives funding from the utilities to do outreach. The City works with them on commercial buildings. Kilowatt Crackdown is an example of a partnership program that is currently underway. Partnerships are focused on leveraging the staff and resources of others to achieve a common goal. NEEA serves a large commercial base, but they don’t serve small-commercial.
    • That is a clear gap. The smaller buildings present unique challenges – including the fact that they generally don’t have dedicated operation and maintenance staff, so it is hard to capture their attention.
  • So many of the business corridors are gentrifying, and reducing the utility bills for some of those businesses might help prevent displacement? But, it could also add displacement pressure (e.g. making a building more appealing for leasing).
  • The infrastructure of these programs naturally favor large, established buildings and organizations (communication structures, networks, etc.). Are there any new ideas that can help address the idea that good intentions go nowhere if we don’t have the systems/structures to serve those that are being missed?
  • When we think about equitable distribution of resources, we aren’t talking about equal. The suite of actions identified do not begin to address the current and historical inequities. There needs to be pots of money to build capacity to help these communities take advantage of these opportunities.
  • There need to be more boots on the ground within the community to help (e.g. fill out applications, work sessions, etc.).
  • The lack of capacity can sometimes be used against communities to justify the inequitable distribution of resources. Sometimes it is more the structure or systems in place that favor white firms – it isn’t a lack of capacity within the underserved community.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a recognition of that the communities that don’t work well within the government model (e.g. call a meeting, already well versed in the topic, etc.) have value and can make meaningful contributions.
  • Is there an opportunity leverage partnerships to further the service to underserved communities? What are the tools we can use to take advantage of the influence the City/County have?
  • How do we make sure that the policies we set for new construction have teeth in them to ensure that we aren’t giving away a lot without getting much back from developers in terms of broader community benefits. Then…how do we extend this to retrofits as well.
  • How are we incentivizing the “usual suspects” and does that look any different for underutilized contractors, developers, builders?
  • How do we evaluate the various incentives to ensure the ones that help us achieve our equity goals are not marginalized or skipped over for other options to achieve those bonuses that don’t serve our carbon and equity goals.
  • There is strong interest in identifying ways to capture the wealth created through development to benefit the surrounding community.
  • There is an inherent problem that everyone is paying into the pots of money to run/fund these programs (e.g. Energy Trust, NEEA), but the programs are not benefiting those communities and homes that could benefit the most. They money is going to people/firms/organizations that don’t reflect or serve low-income communities or communities of color.
  • By their very nature, utility rates are regressive…the more you use, the cheaper the rates (e.g. large users get a break). The action proposed related to a carbon tax could potentially reverse that (the tax is higher for large energy users) – that could provide a mechanism to use those funds to serve underserved communities.
  • This is a newOregonnow and will be dramatically changing demographically in the near-future. There is a shift in political power and will likely no longer standby and pay into a pot of money and not receive any of the benefits in return. There is no transparency about the power structures and the decision-making processes.
  • There needs to be deeper analysis about the carbon tax and a conversation with broader stakeholders. This is an example of where government needs to create the space and the process to bring new perspectives to the conversation and enable community organizations to advocate for their needs.
  • Getting a sense of the dollars on the table and the associated opportunities that could come to the community would be useful. How do we connect these issues to the clearly defined community needs and priorities? There is a serious framing issue around environmental issues and lack of transparency of funding resources and opportunities. This information flow should be institutionalized.
  • Are there opportunities to increase/improve community engagement as these projects happen in the neighborhoods? There is a good intention, but often a very poor outcome. Making the process to intervene in buildings and energy issues clearer is needed (policy level, local project level).
  • Can the City/County support translation of some of these things – understanding it in English is tough enough, much less trying to communicate these concepts to others in another language.
  • Is there an equity lens that will be used to shape the implementation of the actions? Yes – equity, an equity lens/questions, and other framing narrative will be included in the document, as well as through the wording of the actions.
  • Concerns with the carbon tax – many communities don’t have the foundation to engage in that conversation. The City/County need to address historic under-resourcing to build capacity for communities to engage in discussions of environmental and carbon issues. Building partnerships between CBOs of color and traditional environmental organizations – maybe with resources from Foundations, etc.
  • Desiree will look at arranging a call to learn about a similar experience inCalifornia. Sightline might also be a good resource to learn from because they have done a lot of work looking at carbon taxes and equity.

 Grantee Check-in:

  • Worksheets on Buildings and Energy are due tomorrow (Thursday).
  • Something in the grant was to do focus groups or meetings with the grantees organizations. That isn’t required – but City/County staff are happy to offer whatever might be needed to support those efforts.

Desiree will be on vacation – Tim Lynch will be the main point of contact during that time. If grantees will be on vacation, please let Tim and Desiree know.

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