Today District 7 City Councilman Cris Medina filed a Council Consideration Request (CCR) that will update three aspects of the City of San Antonio's environmental policies. The proposal will ban single-use bags, order a cost-benefit analysis of going paperless for all City Council meetings, and update the Unified Development Code (UDC) to reflect the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
"The City of San Antonio spends $1.3 million each year – nearly $3,600 per day – dealing with waste from single-use bags," Councilman Medina said. "We have tried pilot programs and voluntary efforts, but they did not work. If you look around at fences, trees, curbs, and waterways all over San Antonio you can see how big of a problem these bags are. I want to make sure we do this in the right way. My goal is to give community groups, environmental groups, small businesses and large retailers all a seat at the table and a voice in this process. I think we all have the same goal – to save taxpayer funds and get rid of the mess."
The Citizen's Environmental Advisory Committee approved a resolution calling for a ban on single-use bags in September. Similar bans are already in effect in Austin, San Diego and Seattle, with bans proposed in Chicago, Dallas, and New York City.
The CCR also included a request for breakdown of the costs associated with printing, binding, and distributing for City Council budget sessions, committee meetings, A Sessions, and B Sessions, then performing a cost-benefit analysis that measures continuing the current paper-based system versus a tablet-based paperless system.
"As we start looking at what the public can do to help us save taxpayer funds and reduce our impact on the environment, we also need to look at City Hall and the City Council,” continued Councilman Medina. “We generate hundreds of pages of documents each week that are used once, and then discarded. I want to see exactly how much this costs us and then see if it makes more sense financially to go paperless. If we can modernize and employ technology to save taxpayer funds and reduce the waste we generate, we should do it right away.”
Finally, Medina's CCR seeks to update the City of San Antonio's Unified Development Code to reflect the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code standards for energy conservation in construction. These standards are designed to make new business and residential construction more energy efficient to reduce demand for generation and reduce monthly bills.
"Making these changes to the UDC will allow the average homeowner of a newly built home to save approximately $252 per year in utility bills," Councilman Medina said. "Buildings consume 40 percent of the energy in the United States and every kilowatt hour we can conserve is one that we do not have to pay to generate. This is a necessary update to the UDC that is overdue."
In response to Councilman Medina's proposal, Rachel Stone of Environment Texas released the following statement:
"Environment Texas applauds Councilman Medina for taking leadership on these important issues. San Antonio made a commitment to take strides towards a more sustainable future, and it is exciting to see the city forging ahead on that path. We are thrilled to see San Antonio moving ahead with the plastic bag ban to help keep the San Antonio River and neighborhoods clean. By investing in renewable energy and now increasing building energy efficiency, the city is reducing reliance on power plants and improving air quality, while setting a strong example for the state of Texas to reduce energy waste and help citizens save on their energy bills."
In his CCR Medina requested that the City Council take action within 90 days on the bag ban and UDC updates, and take action within 60 days on the paperless City Council proposal.