City of Long Beach officials host informational presentation about region’s environmental concerns

The CAAP meeting intended to engage residents about the effects of climate change in Long Beach.

Long Beach has experienced an increase in extreme weather conditions, such as flooding and hot temperatures, as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a presentation Monday, April 15, at Seventh Street Church, 668 Obispo Ave.

Alison Spindler, planner and budget specialist for the City of Long Beach, informed residents of the Climate Action Adaptation Plan (CAAP) committee’s environmental concerns for Long Beach and mentioned that city officials are looking for ways to reduce the negative effects of climate change.

Photos by Joy Rowden | Signal Tribune
Pictured is Alison Spindler, planner and budget specialist for the City of Long Beach, on Monday, April 15, at Seventh Street Church, 668 Obispo Ave., presenting how Long Beach will be affected by climate change.

Jennifer Ly, a planner for the City of Long Beach, said the CAAP is the City’s plan for reducing the aforementioned greenhouse gas emissions and “our negative impact on the environment in the future and to adapt to the consequences of climate change that are already here.”

A few goals that CAAP has for the community is to: “empower young people to be leaders in creating a more sustainable community;” “invoke personal sense of responsibility among residents and businesses;” and “distinguish Long Beach as a leader in climate mitigation and adaptation planning.”

Spindler said driving is the biggest form of greenhouse gas emissions in Long Beach.

“We have 13 independent experts from Cal State [Long Beach], UCLA, the Air Quality and Management District, Dr. [Jerry] Schubel from the Aquarium [of the Pacific] [and] various science experts who helped ensure that our methodology, our data and all the local available science would be included,” Spindler said.

Officials said the five major consequences of climate change are sea-level rise, drought, flooding from rain, poor air quality and extreme heat, which varies by neighborhood, according to the presentation.

Spindler said climate change can impacts people’s health, buildings, housing, transportation, water supply, parks and energy.

“The science for Long Beach tells us that extreme heat is likely to have the longest health impact on most residents in our city,” Spindler said. “In fact, our studies show that 275,000 residents are in the highest extreme-heat vulnerability zone.”

Extreme temperatures impacts all sorts of people, according to the presentations, including children, people with respiratory problems, older adults and those who primarily work jobs outside. Spindler added that it could also lead to a loss of economic efficiency, as children may miss school or adults may miss work because of extreme conditions.

Residents looked at posters with information from this week’s presentation at Seventh Street Church about the Climate Action Adaptation Plan.

“Historically, Long Beach experienced on average about four extreme heat days a year between 1980 and 2000,” Spindler said. “The projection show[s] that we will have somewhere between 11 and 16 [heat days] by 2050, and up to 37 extreme heat days by 2100.”

An extreme heat day occurs when the temperature rises above 95 degrees. Climate change will also cause the temperature to be less cool at night, according to Spindler.

“This is actually not a future problem,” she said. “This problem is already here.”

She also mentioned that air pollution will have a greater impact on residents living in central, west and north Long Beach than people living in other areas.

CAAP officials are analyzing 200 actions to help combat climate change that consist of utilizing more bus shelters, increasing water-supply access and expanding cooling centers.

Another issue Spindler focused on was the flooding occurrences in Long Beach that are caused by a rise in sea level, coastal storms, river floods and urban floods.

“Our stormwater system was built a long time ago and was not built for the kinds of storms that we are experiencing today, so flooding [occurs] because of the lack of [a] sufficient system,” Spindler said. “Flooding events are very serious [and] can lead to injury, death and displacement.”

Residents can prepare themselves for extreme weather conditions by knowing their flood risk, having a plan to evacuate, knowing basic first-aid, having emergency supplies and insurance, she said.

“You may think you already have [insurance], but double check it,” Spindler said. “We hear this a lot after extreme-weather events like this where people thought they were covered for something, but they are not.”

Toward the end of Monday’s presentation, Spindler opened a public forum for attendees to ask questions.

“The purpose of today’s event is to really engage residents in developing the CAAP,” Ly said.

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