San Diego — Michael Baker International is playing a key role in San Diego’s renewed efforts to reduce the city’s impact on the climate during the next two decades. Howard Blackson, senior associate in Michael Baker’s Planning Practice who also leads the company’s Urban Design Studio team in San Diego, recently accepted an appointment to serve on the San Diego City Council’s 17-person Climate Action Plan (CAP) Implementation Working Group.
Adopted unanimously by council members in December, San Diego’s CAP creates legally binding mandates for the reduction of greenhouse gases in the metropolitan area. City council has charged the Implementation Working Group with developing recommendations on how to take the provisions in the plan regarding issues such as transportation, solid waste and energy use and put them into practice. An expert in urban planning, Blackson will serve as the committee’s sole consultant on land use and will collaborate with experts on climate research, sustainable energy, transportation planning, solid waste and disposal, and the environment.
“San Diego has taken a proactive and progressive stance to adhere to state mandates on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and we are pleased that the city’s efforts will benefit from Michael Baker’s expertise in urban planning and strategic land use as they put their plan into action,” said Susan Harden, national practice lead for Michael Baker’s Planning Practice. “We know the initiative will benefit from Howard’s insight and experience, and we congratulate him on his appointment.”
In his role with the company’s Urban Design Studio, Blackson convenes Michael Baker’s in-house experts in urban design, sustainability, mobility and community-based planning to deliver innovative and integrated solutions that build more sustainable, healthier, more livable communities.
Michael Baker has demonstrated experience in climate action planning, including implementation. The company has prepared climate action plans for more than 50 communities across California and has worked with many clients to support the implementation of greenhouse gas reduction strategies in sectors that include energy, land use, transportation, water and waste.
San Diego’s Climate Action Plan sets specific benchmarks for reducing environmental impact. According to the plan, the city must decrease automobile trips in key transportation areas by 20 percent and expand the city’s tree cover by 15 percent in the next five years.
The city’s approach sets the stage for the development of mixed-use, walkable urbanism – a strategic creation of neighborhoods where people can live, work, play and learn all in the same area without having to get into a car,” Blackson said. “Instead, they can walk or bike tree-lined streets to get where they are going or use readily accessible mass transit. Michael Baker has a solid foundation in developing such plans for other metropolitan areas, and I’m excited to bring that perspective to this important endeavor.”
The Implementation Working Group’s efforts began with an initial meeting in March. Members will review the final implementation plan this spring and continue to provide guidance to city council throughout the year, particularly in measuring the success of the plan’s execution.