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SCAG Honors Three Inland Empire Projects With 2023 Sustainability Awards

By Kay Towine
Community Writer
05/15/2023 at 03:18 PM

The Inland Empire cities of San Bernardino, Rialto, and San Jacinto have been announced as winners of the 2023 Sustainability Awards by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

In all, seven innovative projects across the six-county region will take home the prestigious Sustainability Awards during ceremonies at SCAG’s Regional Conference and General Assembly on May 4 in Palm Desert. The awards recognize excellence and innovation in planning, land use, and transportation to improve mobility, livability, prosperity, and sustainability.

The City of San Bernardino is honored in the category of Clean Cities: Alternative Fuels and Fleets for its Clean Fleet Project, which establishes a framework for transitioning the City’s fleet from conventionally powered vehicles to zero- to low-emission vehicles. It implements guidelines governing the purchase of city vehicles that will maximize energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease costs. The policy establishes clean vehicle selection standards and has implemented a “zero emissions first” strategy using a tiered system based on the degree of emissions reduction.

Fully implemented, the program will reduce greenhouse emissions by an estimated 2,000 metric tons.

Rialto is being honored with the Carmen Ramirez Award for Equity for its recycled water partnership with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA). The Carmen Ramirez Award is named after the late Ventura County Supervisor, who was tragically killed in 2022 after a lifetime of championing sustainability, mobility, and equity, and tirelessly supporting numerous local civic organizations.

Under the unique 50-year partnership, Rialto will sell a portion of its recycled water supply to IEUA that was previously sent to the Santa Ana River and eventually to the Pacific Ocean. IEUA will fund the design, construction, and operation of a pipeline, pump station, and connection between the wastewater plant and the agency’s own recycled water distribution system.

The agreement also sets the stage to design, permit and construct Lake Rialto – a 10-acre natural environment that would include one mile of pedestrian perimeter trails, and provide opportunities for passive recreation, educational programming, and public outreach.

The city of San Jacinto is b honored with the Plans, Programs, and Policies Award for Envision San Jacinto's general plan. This multi-faceted long-range planning program was designed to improve the quality of life for the citizens of San Jacinto by identifying and capitalizing on the community’s strengths and opportunities while taking proactive steps to address perceived weaknesses and possible threats.

Judges highlighted the city’s “intentional efforts to engage disadvantaged communities in the planning process,” notably its bilingual outreach to accommodate 96% of residents who speak Spanish as their first language.

“We are honored to present these awards, which recognize some truly groundbreaking efforts to improve the quality of life across our region. As these projects illustrate, Southern California leads the nation in integrating technology and creative thinking to build healthier, more vibrant communities,” said Jan Harnik, SCAG Regional Council President.

Among the other 2023 Sustainability Award winners:

Outstanding Achievement in Sustainability: The county of Ventura Agricultural Worker Housing Ordinance, intended to promote housing for lower-income households that align with the rural and agricultural character, economy, and needs of Ventura County.

Active, Healthy, and Safe Award: Lynwood Urban Bike Trail, converting undeveloped Caltrans excess land into a Class 1 Bicycle Trail in the City of Lynwood and creating new multi-benefit public open space.

Green Region Initiative Award: Pacoima Cool Community Project, applying cool pavement on dark and hot asphalt surfaces throughout the city, providing much-needed urban cooling.

Housing Innovation Award: Legacy Square, is a transit-oriented, mixed-use, affordable housing development that will replace two underutilized buildings with high-quality affordable apartment homes and flexible space, bringing new investment to downtown Santa Ana.

“We congratulate all our award winners, whose work represents the best of the best when it comes to meeting our sustainability goals and improving quality of life. These projects are models of innovative solutions to challenges that all our communities face, and by lifting them up we hope to see them replicated and built upon across the region,” said Kome Ajise, SCAG Executive Director.