Bay Area mayors discuss stimulus, green jobs

More than a dozen California mayors, including several from the Bay Area, are meeting in San Francisco today to talk about how California cities are using federal economic stimulus money to make local communities more energy efficient and to create more green jobs.

Most interesting among them seems to be San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, a Republican who’s again running against Democrat Joan Buchanan (now the incumbent) in the 15th Assembly District. Wilson – though he spoke at TEA Party rallies last year and this year – has been trying to stake out ground as a moderate, and his attendance at an event such as this seems significant in that context.

Today’s event, hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was chaired by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster (a Democrat), joined by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (also the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General). Cathy Zoi, U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy was there as well.

First funded under last year’s stimulus package and administered by the Energy Department, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program is meant to help mayors in reducing city energy use and climate emissions. It allocates $2.8 billion directly to cities and counties to improve energy efficiency and spur economic growth in the green sector, providing direct formula funding to 215 cities and 13 counties in California.

“The EECBG program is allowing us to improve energy efficiency in almost 150 buildings serving San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods,” Newsom said at a press availability today. “More importantly, these energy efficiency projects create and sustain green jobs, save people money on their utility bills, and cut the City’s carbon emissions by more than 3,000 tons a year.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors will be lobbying Congress this fall with a push to continue the program as means of green job creation in cities and metro areas where jobs are needed most.

Other Bay Area officials listed as being at today’s meeting included Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson, Cupertino Mayor Kris Wang, Pacifica Mayor Sue Digre, San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos and South San Francisco Councilman Pedro Gonzalez. The former four are Democrats, while Gonzalez is a Republican.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.