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Jessica Obenauf

1. Blaine County Sustainability Manager, Andrew Mentzer, is working with stakeholders to create a climate action plan for the valley. How would you recommend the use of city resources to support the implementation of the plan? 

As of now, from the overview of the current budget for 2024, the City of Bellevue doesn’t have the resources to implement the plan, so the city will definitely need to discuss and figure out how the city can implement and dedicate resources. It is critical to protect and conserve the resources of the Wood River Valley. Our livelihood here depends on it, and all the cities must work together. Also, I believe the City of Bellevue should create a separate committee that can dedicate its time to this, as it will take more than the city council to get all of the community involved in Bellevue, and I am more than happy to take that on. 


2. Given that decisions you make today have climate ramifications for decades to come, what process does the city have, or what process should be put in place, to properly evaluate and prioritize decisions to mitigate climate impact?

Growth is inevitable, so planning for growth smartly and sustainably is crucial. A start is addressing the building code for all new construction. Look at what impacts the environment the most and start rolling that into code.  Lawns, which have been especially singled out as water-wasting culprits, are estimated to use about 40% to 60% of landscape irrigation. One idea would be to have all new construction have xeriscaping in front yards with drought-tolerant plants. In many other places in the US, developers have to contribute to the environmental impact they have on the community. Also, figuring out how to incentivize established residents to xeriscape their yards. A water study would need to be done, but if the community saw how much their water use impacted our environment, it could change behavior. 

3. Is there anything else you want to tell your voters about how you would work to address climate change if elected?

As I have said previously, growth is inevitable with a rising population. If I were elected, I would be thinking about our current situation here in the valley and what our children and grandchildren will be left with. We must be thoughtful about wildlife, resources, and places for people to live.

An economic report just came out in the Mountian Express on 10/19/23, and they are talking about how only billionaires will be able to live in Ketchum and how hard it is still for workers to find homes and or places to rent, and it’s going to not get better for ten years. The one thing I hear consistently from young people in our community without families and who work in service is they don’t need a house, they wish they didn’t have to have a roommate, and they would rather live in the South Valley, but the bus doesn’t run late or frequently enough. 

One idea I would propose would be to build for more density on the main street with multi-family. The environmental impact of building single-family homes is much more significant than multifamily. I am not saying make all multifamily, but we must consider diversifying our building to negate negative environmental impacts.  Some would argue that would increase traffic from the traffic studies done. Instead of supplying additional parking and encouraging people to drive, reduce parking, add more buses, have buses run until 2 a.m., and turn the double right lanes into buses/ carpools only during peak traffic hours. The only way to start changing behaviors is to start implementing planning and enforcement for the community to contribute. 

There are so many more things we could do to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change:

-Composting at home, reducing trash loads
-Installing E-bike/ Electric charging stations throughout the valley
-Require all new homes to have electric car charging
-Install tankless hot water tanks in new homes that are built 
-Ban the use of pesticides 

We can do so many more things in the Valley to protect our environment and work to address climate change.  

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