April 2020

At USDN, we're sensitive to the uncertainty affecting all of us at this time and are committed to assisting our members and our broader network in any way we can. As a network, we are set up to support our members, which means we can adapt and change as needs arise. We appreciate the opportunity to rethink the systems we work in and are inspired by the ways the issues of equity and resilience are coming top of mind for the recovery process.

USDN and its members, partners, and funders are committed to supporting communities in becoming more resilient in light of climate change impacts.

Resources for COVID-19 Response, Resilience, and Recovery

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Response Overview

COVID-19 Local Action Tracker: The National League of Cities and Bloomberg Philanthropies have provided a publicly accessible spreadsheet listing individual cities and their actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Response Newsletter: Bloomberg Philanthropies is providing a newsletter with updates on city responses to COVID-19, resources, and tips and language that other local governments can use when working with their constituents.

How Local Government Sustainability Staff are Adjusting for COVID-19: ICLEI shared an article profiling USDN Members Santa Cruz CA, San Jose CA, Miami FL, and Orlando FL and their sustainability staffs' approaches to remote work and shifting priorities during the coronavirus health crisis.

Local Government and Organization Resources for COVID-19: What Works Cities compiled a curated list of local government and organization COVID-19 response efforts and resources to support cities in the development of their own response plans.

City Actions

Multnomah County OR COVID-19 Website: Multnomah County OR has created a COVID-19 webpage that is constantly updated with the latest information about staying home and staying healthy for residents, while also providing specific information for local businesses and other facilities.

Dane County WI Remote Best Practices Toolkit: The Dane County WI Board Office has put together a shareable toolkit for holding virtual public meetings with steps they've taken so far to address the shifts due to COVID-19.

Flagstaff AZ Informational Video for COVID-19: In Flagstaff AZ, Lowell Observatory partnered with TGen's Pathogen and Microbiome Division to provide a "What you Need to Know" video on COVID-19.

Maui County HI Launches Farmer Assistance and Food Distribution Program Amid COVID-19: Maui County HI initiated the Farm Product Purchase Program and is committing $30,000 per week to buy produce from local farmers to provide to residents who have become unemployed or lost income due to COVID-19.

Ft. Collins CO Resources for Local Businesses During COVID-19: Fort Collins CO's Economic Health Office has created a resource page for their local businesses, which will soon be translated into Spanish.


Resilience Hubs and the COVID-19 Crisis: A Reuters op-ed from USDN Program Director for Climate Resilience, Kristin Baja, describes how resilience hubs can support the COVID-19 response in multiple ways, including community-based testing sites, neighborhood distribution centers, and locations to coordinate childcare and meals.

How Stimulus Funds Could Build a Greener Economy: This analysis piece from Reuters spotlights Mayor Vinis of Eugene OR who sees an opportunity for COVID-19 stimulus funds to be used for job creation and green infrastructure.

GHG Reduction

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Portland OR Releases Draft Climate Emergency Declaration for Public Comment: Portland OR released a draft Climate Emergency Declaration for public comment, which includes accelerating carbon reduction goals and creating a new government structure to support it, advancing climate justice, and supporting partnerships with youth organizations.

Takoma Park MD Passes Framework in Response to Climate Emergency Declaration: Takoma MD City Council approved a Climate Emergency Framework that prioritizes strategies in buildings, transportation, and renewable energy for achieving net zero emissions city-wide by 2035 and becoming fossil fuel-free city-wide by 2045.

Cedar Rapids IA Passes Climate Action Resolution: Cedar Rapids IA City Council approved a resolution setting the groundwork for a community-wide sustainability plan with a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

San Francisco CA Pension to Become Carbon Neutral: San Francisco CA's Employee Retirement System board voted to amend their Climate Action Plan to invest their $27 billion portfolio in net carbon zero assets by 2050.

Charlotte NC Approves Large-Scale Solar through a Green Tariff: Charlotte NC will purchase solar power from a 35-megawatt solar project through a green tariff, providing 24% of its municipal electricity and creating nearly 500 jobs.

Knoxville TN Approves New Solar Power Agreement: Knoxville TN's Utilities Board approved a 20-year power supply agreement with the local utility, which includes the purchase of 212 MW of solar, discounted wholesale rates, and funds to secure new solar resources for its customers.

Milwaukee WI Approves City's Largest Solar Field: Milwaukee WI partnering with its local investor-owned utility to build and maintain a 2.25 MW solar project on a closed landfill to provide back-up power to the nearby Air National Guard, from which the city will receive revenue to support climate action projects and Renewable Energy Credits.

Los Angeles CA Purchases Electric Buses: As part of Los Angeles CA's goal to transition their entire bus fleet to zero emissions by 2028, the city purchased 155 electric buses to be deployed over the next two years.

San Diego CA Off-Road Fleet to Use Alternative Fuel: San Diego CA's off-road city vehicles will now be using red-dye renewable diesel that is sourced from natural fats, vegetable oils, greases, and agricultural waste products, which would reduce GHG emissions by up to 80% compared to petroleum diesel.

Climate Resilience

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USDN Member and Equity Consultant and Coach Receive Grist 50 Award: Mayor Ron Nirenberg (San Antonio TX) and Desirée Williams-Rajee (Kapwa Consulting) were recognized as Fixers for the 2020 Grist 50, which honors leaders in environmental policy, the food system, the clean-energy sector, and more.

Seattle WA Begins Reforestation Pilot Program: Seattle WA Public Utilities is partnering with Seattle City Light and two other organizations to plant 14,000 seedlings native to the West Coast region that are better adapted to hotter, drier climates in East King County as a part of a pilot forest restoration project.

Arlington County VA Joins Biophilic Cities Network: Arlington County VA recently became a city partner in the Biophilic Cities Network, which is a network of cities dedicated to improving the connection between residents and urban nature.

Social Equity

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Auburn Examiner

King County WA Providing Free Bus Passes: The King County WA Council approved an income-based Metro transit program for residents who make at or below 80% of the federal poverty incomes level to receive no cost year-long transit passes.

Urban Sustainability 

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Minneapolis MN Releases New Transportation Plan: Minneapolis MN City Council released a draft of their Transportation Action Plan, which aims to reduce the number of residents driving alone from 43% to 20% and increase walking and public transit use to 25% each by 2030.

Chicago IL Approves Electric Vehicle Readiness Ordinance: Chicago IL City Council Zoning Committee approved an ordinance requiring new commercial buildings with 30+ parking spaces and new residential buildings with 5+ units to make at least 20% of their parking spaces EV supply equipment-ready.

Cambridge MA to Add Warning Labels to Gas Pumps: Cambridge MA passed the United States' first law requiring public safety labels on gas pumps warning about the consequences that burning gasoline, diesel, and ethanol have on human health and the environment.