Encinitas Considers Awards to Recognize Local Environmental Efforts

At the recent meeting of the six-member Encinitas Environmental Commission, a proposed plan to recognize local residents, businesses, and non-profit organizations for exception environmental achievements was passed with unanimous support.

The concept, dually promoted by commission members James Wang and Joy Lyndes, was modeled after existing programs that are currently in place in cities all across the nation, including Raleigh, NC, Jacksonville, FL, and Scottsdale, AZ.

According to Wang and Lyndes' proposal, “Institution of City-sponsored EAP is a step in : awards would not only inspire and acknowledge environmentally-friendly practices by businesses and residents, but would also publicly proclaim the City's proactive environmental stance.”

In the current stage of planning, awards are likely to consist of a small plaque listing the recipient's achievement, as well as an environmentally-themed piece of artwork crafted by a local community artist.

For recipients, the benefits are two-fold. Not only will they be able to publically display their award and receive recognition from local residents, but they'll also have a talking point to bring attention to the environmental efforts that they've championed.

Initial estimates put the annual cost of implementing an environmental awards program at just $1,500, with the three most substantial expenses being administrative fees, the presentation of the awards, and the hand-crafted awards themselves.

In the proposal presented to the Environmental Commission, Wang and Lyndes suggest that some of the program's labor costs could be mitigated through the use of volunteer efforts, such as what is currently being done with the City of Encinitas and Mizel Family Foundation Community Grant Program. That program, which funds arts and civic projects for non-profits, has been in operation in its current form since 2007, although its origin dates back nearly two decades to 1998.

Other costs of the EAP could be covered by soliciting corporate sponsorship from community businesses – the route taken by the City of Raleigh to completely cover the financial impact of its program.

In Raleigh, NC, there are a total of twelve awards given out year. According to the Environmental Commission's proposal, Encinitas would begin with just two. Proponents feel this modest start is the best way to test the program's waters locally, considering that Raleigh has a popular of more than 430,000 residents – a figure which dwarfs the approximately 61,500 people living within the City of Encinitas.

If plans for the project are pushed forward, the initial round of awards will likely be split into two categories: one for local businesses, and one for individuals and non-profit organizations. Upon successful implementation, Encinitas will become the first city in San Diego County to offer awards to residents and business owners for their environmental stewardship.