Menlo Spark

Change comes hard for most people. It can be scary, unsettling, and disruptive. But change is happening all around us, all the time. Our beautiful town by the bay has been at the epicenter of dramatic regional growth in the past few decades, bringing new people, culture, and jobs, but also traffic, pollution, and a major housing crunch.

And so, at this turning point, we are faced with a choice. We can embrace the change and channel it into vibrant communities with new opportunities for housing, modern ideas on mobility, and a commitment to clean energy. We can choose to be proactive and plan for a future that transitions us from fossil fuels and pollution, and plan for a smart city with more transit options to help people get around, and more housing near transit hubs.

Or we can choose to do nothing and watch climate impacts worsen, watch traffic gridlock and frustrations grow, watch valuable members of our community get priced out of their homes. We’ve already been experiencing the impacts of climate change with more intense wildfires that spread unhealthy smoke, with rising bay levels that will soon flood homes, schools, sanitation infrastructure, and roadways, and with intense heatwaves that affect all of us.

The 2018 Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, finds that if we want to avoid the very worst and irreversible impacts of climate change, we must dramatically reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 through rapid, far-reaching, and un-precedented measures. Here, in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have the resources and ingenuity to show how a cohesive community that respects its heritage can evolve into a prosperous, sustainable town. These are the steps to get us there:

  • Climate Goals: Adopt a new Climate Action Plan that accelerates a near term transition to carbon neutrality, maximizes GHG reductions by 2030, spurs innovation and creates jobs, and prepares for the impacts of climate change on public health, infrastructure, the economy, ecosystems, and public spaces in our community.
  • Smart City Planning: Incorporate climate and sustainability into all city policies, programs, and plans
  • Public Outreach & Benchmarking Progress: Increase public outreach on the city’s community-wide sustainability and resilience efforts, including regular reporting on progress towards GHG reduction goals, actions, and policies.
  • Equity: Recognize the needs of all community members through environmental and social justice, and a commitment to create equitable investment, planning, and services for a more cohesive city of Menlo Park.
  • Sustainable Mobility: Implement transportation policies that eliminate carbon pollution and reduce congestion, creating more convenient and safe options for bicycling, walking, and riding public transit, while supporting a transition to electric vehicles.
  • Zero Carbon Buildings: Ensure that new homes and buildings are built with Zero Carbon electric heating and appliances, and work with regional partners to explore programs that assist home and building owners with upgrades that phase out fossil fuel use.
  • Healthy Neighborhoods: Discourage the use of toxic chemicals among homeowners and businesses, including pesticides.
  • Preserve the Landscape: Protect open space and natural resources as a part of the climate action plan and adaptation strategy.

The Climate and Sustainability resolution that was signed by Menlo Park’s Mayor on Earth Day is a commitment to transition our town to a green, zero carbon economy that supports diverse, thriving communities, where everyone is welcome.

Our action or inaction on these issues will be our legacy left to our children and future generations.

Mitch Slomiak is Co-Founder and Chair of Menlo Spark and longtime resident of the Willows. This post was co-written by Chris DeCardy, also Co-Founder of Menlo Spark and longtime resident of the Willows.

Photo by Robb Most (c) 2019



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County-wide greenbuilding efforts & new guide available for zero carbon commercial construction

Diane Bailey of Menlo Spark emailed InMenlo the following: “Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) and the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability (OOS) are joining together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by developing “reach codes” that exceed state energy efficiency standards for buildings. Their new website supporting the effort lists several […]

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A week of Global Climate Action Summit events – and how Menlo Park can make climate goals a reality here

Last week thousands of people who care about climate progress converged at events around the Bay Area for the Global Climate Action Summit. We at Menlo Spark were fortunate to have Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and internationally recognized leader on human rights, come to Kepler’s Books on September 13 to talk about how […]

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Chris DeCardy reflects on his eight years on Menlo Park’s Environment Quality Commission

Recently, I ended two terms on Menlo Park’s Environmental Quality Commission. I wanted to serve to ensure the environmental amenities of our town — trees and clean air and water — are respected and enhanced, and that our inevitable growth and development are managed thoughtfully. What I didn’t expect has been the opportunity to see, […]

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Menlo Spark recognizes students, teachers and residents who support sustainability in Menlo Park

Last month, Menlo Spark honored environmental leaders in schools with Menlo Green Challenge Awards. Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki recognized the outstanding achievements of students, teachers, and residents who took initiative to support sustainability in Menlo Park. Jerry Griffith, for winning the Menlo Green Challenge, with the Climate Actions taken to reduce his household carbon […]

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Menlo Park celebrates Earth Day in numerous ways and places, thanks to Menlo Spark

Menlo Spark is doing some fun events this week in Menlo Park for earth day. Last Tuesday, we helped students at Oak Knoll Elementary School make pledges for one thing they’ll do for Earth Day this year, posting those pledges, making a paper tree (below left).  Oak Knoll faculty and parent volunteers have done an […]

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Spark Green 2018 climate action campaign runs from Jan. 29th through March 2nd

Today is the launch day of Spark Green 2018, which aims to double participation in the Menlo Green Challenge, an online program that empowers residents to take climate actions. “Last year, almost 400 households signed up for the Green Challenge and they have reduced over 100 tons of carbon emissions!” emailed Menlo Spark Executive Director Diane Bailey. […]

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Facebook switches to 100% renewable energy through Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 option

Facebook switched all electric accounts at its Menlo Park headquarters to Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 option, making Facebook the largest participant in Peninsula Clean Energy’s 100% renewable energy option. “Facebook is committed to being a good neighbor and that includes reducing its potential impact on the environment,” said Lauren Swezey, Facebook Sustainability and Community Outreach […]

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Two Menlo-Atherton High School students are “climate heroes”

Emails Diane Bailey of Menlo Spark: “Two students at Menlo-Atherton High School, Tyler Lewis (pictured) and Henry Marks, have shown how youth can lead the way to a more sustainable future, winning the Menlo Green Challenge this Spring. We are delighted to award them Eco Reco electric scooters for their climate action efforts! The Menlo […]

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Menlo Spark celebrates second anniversary, Menlo Green Challenge continues

Diane Bailey, Executive Director of Menlo Spark, reminded us that the non-profit just celebrated its second anniversary and that people who take the Menlo Green Challenge, an online climate action tool to help you find out your carbon footprint and take actions, might win an electric bike or scooter. She emails: “Carpooling and swapping out old […]

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Love the Earth is part of pre-Valentines program offered by Menlo Spark

Diane Bailey, who is Executive Director of Menlo Spark, let us know about a fun art project called “Love Your Earth” her organization sponsored yesterday at the Boys & Girls Club in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park as a prelude to today’s Valentine celebration. She emails: “[The] BGCP has been integrating environmental themes into some of their programs.[Yesterday] Jonathan […]

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