Community Government

Gig Harbor City Council approves climate, forest plans

Posted on October 12th, 2023 By:

The Gig Harbor City Council unanimously approved a Climate Action Plan and an Urban Forest Management Plan on Monday, Oct. 9.

Council members also approved a resolution declaring an emergency at the entrance to Gig Harbor High School due to a malfunctioning traffic signal. This allows the city to spend $70,000 for urgent repairs.

Discussion of an agreement with the Harbor History Museum to manage the old Masonic Lodge building near Crescent Creek Park was postponed until Oct. 23. The museum submitted last-minute changes, according to City Administrator Katrina Knutson.

Climate Action Plan

Climate change poses a danger to Gig Harbor through rising sea level, extreme heat events, wildfire smoke and increased flooding and landslide risk.

The Climate Action Plan sets goals and provides strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent by 2050 from 2019 levels.

It sets interim targets of 45 percent reduction of greenhouse gasses by 2030 and 70 percent by 2040 in transportation, buildings and other factors.

The plan calls for use of many strategies to achieve the goals. They include electrifying all vehicles, reducing passenger vehicle miles, recycling and reducing tree loss.

It encourages the use of renewable energy and conservation of resources; creation of more bike-friendly infrastructure; and increased walkability throughout the city.

Forest management

The new Urban Forest Management Plan recommends that the city increase the tree canopy from 40.7% (the 2022 estimate) to 64%. It identifies approximately 390 acres for high-priority planting.

The plan encourages the city to set annual tree-planting quotas and provides suggestions for protecting existing trees, including on private property. Currently, the city plants abut 30 trees annually to replace trees lost in rights-of-way.

Both Port Orchard (43.7%) and Bremerton (49.7%) have more tree canopy than Gig Harbor (40.7%).

The forest management plan also suggests that the city boost its budget and train and equip more staff for tree care.

More than a dozen community groups and nonprofits have missions aligned with the tree plan. The city can partner with them to create greater awareness of the benefits of trees.

The plan recommends that the city establish an urban forestry advisory board. This is a step toward being identified as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Traffic signal emergency

The council authorized $70,000 to replace asphalt pavement at the entrance to Gig Harbor High, at the intersection of Rosedale Street and Schoolhouse Avenue.

Shortly after school began, the traffic signal on Rosedale Avenue in front of the school malfunctioned due to “extensive distress” on the street asphalt, Public Works Director Jeff Langhelm said.

Crews temporarily re-set the signal. But the intersection needs a permanent fix, including replacing the  damaged asphalt.

Because of the immediate need to hire a contractor that specializes in roadway construction and repair, the council approved the emergency declaration.

Upcoming meetings

The council meets for a study session at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, in the community rooms at the Civic Center on Grandview Street. Discussion items include an update on a Cultural Access Program, review of an electric vehicle charging station study and a Capital Improvement Projects story map.

The next regular council meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23. Council meetings are open to the public and available via Zoom.