Q&A with Garrett Wong: How Regional Collaboration Can Enhance Reach Code Efforts
Garrett Wong is the Climate Program Manager for the County of Santa Barbara, and the Collaborative Manager for the Santa Barbara County Regional Climate Collaborative. Garrett leads the County’s policies and programs under the One Climate Initiative and collaborates with local and regional organizations to advance inclusive climate action and adaptation. Prior to the County, Garrett led climate and energy policies, programs and projects for the City of Santa Monica. Garrett is also a Board member of the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition, which provides regulatory representation and capacity for communities and local governments.
Q: Tell us a little about the regional efforts you are spearheading, Garrett.
A: Three jurisdictions in particular are actively involved in this collaborative effort: County of Santa Barbara, the City of Goleta led by staff member Dana Murray, Sustainability Manager, and the City of Carpinteria, led by Erin Maker, Environmental Manager. Each of our jurisdictions were independently exploring what an electrification reach code might look like and what the different technical assistance resources might be available to assist. It occurred to me, having worked with reach codes before coming to the County, that a county-wide collaboration could offer significant benefits to each of our jurisdictions.
Q: What sort of benefits?
A: By collaborating very closely, each of our jurisdictions can leverage the time investment of the entire team, reducing the individual investment required by each community. In short, by spreading the workload across staff from each of our jurisdictions, we can reduce the individual workloads for each of our teams.
Some examples include our community outreach efforts. The regional team formed an advisory committee which includes stakeholders who may work across the entire region, such as developers, residents, business owners, architects, and environmental advocates. This group has already held a couple of meetings. We’ve also begun conducting regional public workshops, such as the ones conducted in mid-October. For these, the team scheduled different time slots, mid-day and evening, to accommodate a range of stakeholder schedules.
Q: How does this work ‘behind the scenes’ Garrett?
A: We’re creating a sort of ‘roadmap’ for collaboration so each jurisdiction remains in sync with each other across the county. For instance, we’ve established a regular meeting schedule with milestone goals. Each staff lead met early on with its elected officials for policy direction and in each case, the direction was for a similar reach code pathway. While there may be some individual differences—the County for example, includes more agricultural entities than either of the cities—each jurisdiction envisions a health and safety measure. This makes our close collaboration even stronger, as we can jointly create a model language template that can then be modified for local circumstances.
Q: Are there benefits to other regions or jurisdictions who are not involved in this collaboration?
A: We believe so. Firstly, across the County this collaboration can serve as a model and resources for smaller communities who may not be ready to proceed at this time but may be interested in the future. Secondly, across other regions, we believe we’re creating a process and template that other regions could adopt. In either case, the work our team is doing can help streamline the process not just for our own communities but these other communities as well.
Q: Is there a resource other local leaders can access if they’re interested in finding out more?
A: Certainly. Staff can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.