Sipping local Carrabaa’s coffee, the twenty-five Chamber members at this morning’s Coffee Chat were encouraged to hear City Council chair Darden Rice attest, “Our city is on the rise—our city is on fire.” Sponsored by Tucker/Hall, Coffee Chats offer an opportunity for Chamber members and elected officials to have an informal conversation at member business locations.
Shaped primarily by attendees’ questions, the conversation with Rice touched on climate change, transportation, sewage infrastructure and development. After being elected to Council chair, Rice created the Energy, Natural Resources and Sustainability Committee (ENRS) which has helped the city become more resilient through measures such as ensuring homes are built high enough and increasing students’ access to low-interest loans for roof and air-conditioning repairs. A self-proclaimed “transportation geek,” Rice spoke about how many transportation solutions have significant environmental benefits. Additionally, Rice shared about how the city has begun to respond to how technology is revolutionizing mobility by partnering with Uber to provide first-mile and last-mile transportation services.
In regards to sewage infrastructure, Rice explained that the city’s new master plan ensures that investment in the city’s sewage system is adequate and that the system is maintained regularly. In response to a question about whether she views funding for community redevelopment areas (CRAs) as a priority, Rice pointed out that the city is starting to see success from a twenty-year public agreement and that downtown was not always as great as it is today. Additionally, Rice touched on how the Pier helps to create an equitable community by serving as a place where everybody can go. With an unwavering commitment to sustainable, inclusive development, Rice concluded by sharing that “sustainability isn’t just about putting up shiny green buildings. It’s about creating a city that works for everybody.”