Portola Valley expands environmental committee


Sustainability – a principle in environmental science describing practices that are not harmful to the natural environment and that maintain an ecological balance over time – is a key component of the ethos of Portola Valley government, so it might seem surprising that it's 2017 and the Town Council just recently established the Sustainability & Environmental Resources Committee.

It's actually an overhaul that automatically includes seven members of what was the Water Conservation Committee and formally replaces the old Sustainability Committee with the new one, with four additional members appointed on March 8.

Activity on the old Sustainability Committee faded around the time that water conservation became the focus of the town's sustainability efforts, town officials said.

Six candidates applied for the new committee. The new members are residents Meredith McClintock, George Salah, Anne-Laure Strong and Stefan Unnasch. Of those four, only Mr. Unnasch was a member of the original committee.

Ms. McClintock is a 14-year veteran in for-profit and nonprofit sustainability and renewable energy enterprises, she says in her committee application. Asked about trends in the energy industry that could be advantageous to residents and the town, Ms. McClintock noted advances in local energy storage, micro-wind turbines for local power generation, and reclaiming and minimizing water use at home.

Mr. Salah is chief executive of Apparent Inc., which is involved in technology for a next-generation power grid. He spoke about the need to create incentives for people to learn about sustainability in ways that are meaningful, appropriate and accurate.

Ms. Strong is a doctoral student at Stanford University and focusing on decentralization and renewable energy in the electricity grid. "It's very important for me to be involved in my community," she told the council, adding that she has been a resident for just a year and will bring a fresh perspective. Energy audits are the first step to making a home more sustainable, she said.

Mr. Unnasch owns Life Cycle Associates, an environmental consulting firm focusing on fuel analysis, according to the company's LinkedIn page. Among his ideas for improving sustainability in town:

• A community investment in covered parking, with solar panels on top, at the Alpine Hills Swim & Tennis Club.

• Educating the public on how to successfully reintroduce native plants. "It's very hard to get some of these things to grow," he said.

• Species extinction. He mentioned the impact on his property of a "heat storm" in and around 2009. "My slender salamander population was completely wiped out," he said. "Hundreds and thousands of them, they're gone."


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Posted by Loni
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 16, 2017 at 8:50 am

It's a shame about the salamanders. How about our town put equal focus on Crosswalks and safe routes for our children so they don't get wiped out by the thousands of cars driving up and down Alpine and Portola Rd.s daily???

Like this comment
Posted by PV local
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 16, 2017 at 9:24 am

Not quite sure about solar panels at Alpine Hills !! A real eyesore for those of us on Golden Oaks

17 people like this
Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Retired Realtor is a registered user.

At the very time Woodside stifles and outright ousts committee members who support the General Plan, Sustainability, and Open Space Values, Portola Valley expands volunteer participation in all those efforts. BRAVO, Portola Valley.

Like this comment
Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Mar 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

"Retired Realtor" changes the subject while rewriting history in describing recent events in Woodside. The last two changes to the Woodside "committees" were to appoint new members who support the General Plan, Sustainability, and Open Space Values. The people they replaced had well-documented reputations for poor behavior having nothing to do with the General Plan, Sustainability, or Open Space Values.

Now, back to the subject of Portola Valley...

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Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Mar 16, 2017 at 1:33 pm

"Sustainability – a principle in environmental science used to describe practices not harmful to the natural environment "

This is an example of very poor writing. "Sustainability" along with hundreds of other are used to describe practices not harmful to the natural environment. But "sustainability" has a specific meaning, such as "avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance."

School children read this newspaper. Please try to set a better example of writing quality.

Like this comment
Posted by Caroline V
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:32 pm

[Post removed; please stick to the topic]

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