Now’s not the time to backtrack on climate action, Pasadena

Send a letter to your council member and Mayor Tornek asking them to immediately reinstate the ban and increase fact-based communication with the public regarding the safety of reusable items. 

Pasadena did not need to do this. While Gov. Newsom did temporarily suspend the state’s plastic bag ban, Pasadena was grandfathered in and left to make its own choice on whether or not to follow suit. For once, Pasadena could have been a climate leader in an ever so small, but ever so important way. Again, they failed us.

Let me be clear, there is no doubt that the safety of frontline workers, protection of vulnerable community members, and efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 are the first priority and I fully support policies that actually protect public health. However, this suspension lacks any evidentiary basis for rolling back a sound policy that mitigates both the climate and plastic pollution crises. Reusable bags, especially when washed, do not increase the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. When asked for her opinion by Councilman Madison, Dr. Goh, Pasadena’s Director of Public Health and Health Officer, said she was “agnostic” on the issue and does not think inanimate objects pose a significant risk in transmitting the virus. They’re not even listening to their own scientists.

Just like when we asked them to commit to not accepting fossil fuel money, supporting a local Green New Deal, or declaring a climate emergency, City Council has chosen to ignore the science and not be brave on climate action by rescinding the bag ban “until further notice.” Once again, they have taken the easy way out, pushing the climate crisis even more into the hands of my generation. To be clear, there were other options that would have taken just the slightest amount of work to implement: increasing communication with the public to wash their reusable bags often, or even temporarily suspending the surcharge on paper bags (which, as Mayor Tornek pointed out in the meeting, some stores are already doing illegally).

Make sure Pasadena City Council knows you’re not happy with their decision by sending a letter.

We need City Council to immediately reinstate Pasadena’s bag ban and disseminate fact-based information and guidance instead of suspending waste reduction and pollution prevention policies. The bag ban suspension is a shortsighted response that encourages disposables, and perpetuates a throwaway culture that takes us further away from being a healthy and sustainable community. 

Shine bright,

Hub Coordinator, Sunrise Sequoyah


Pasadena Mayor Tornek Responds to Letters Asking Him to Declare a Climate Emergency

On Friday, January 24th, Mayor Tornek responded to the letters we’ve been sending to him asking him (and City Council) to declare a climate emergency. Read his response below, and send your letter now!

This is in response to your email regarding my willingness to declare a Climate Emergency as expressed at the Arroyo Seco Foundation candidate forum held on 1/14/20.

While I believe that the planet is indeed faced with a Climate Emergency, I am not willing to sign on to the Climate Emergency Declaration you have suggested.

Throughout the discussion at the Arroyo Seco Forum, I explained how I believe that Pasadena’s interests are best served when we develop our own responses to issues that impact our City, rather than signing on to national or international declarations.

The Declaration that you attached outlines specific steps, time-frames and support for national legislative policies that are at odds with our locally adopted and annually updated, Climate Action Plan. Pasadena’s plan is the product of detailed community discussions that respond to local conditions, California requirements and resident participation. I do not support preempting its programs and policies with the suggested template.

However, in view of mounting evidence of global damage and a growing demand for action particularly among our youth, I agree that our Plan’s introduction does not convey an adequate sense of urgency. So I have asked staff to discuss revisions that would reflect the emerging realities. This is exactly what should happen within the framework of a local document that is frequently adjusted as new information and changing circumstances emerge.

Thank you for your interest in this critical subject. I hope that you will participate in the ongoing dialogue.


Terry Tornek


Climate Action Forum, Declaration of a Climate Emergency, and the Green New Deal Pledge

It’s been a busy few weeks! I’ve been busy with a bunch of other Sequoyah students (and other organizations) planning and strategizing about our next steps. To try to spare your inboxes, we’re now going to send no more than two emails a week to our general list, unless we’re coming up on an important action (like a climate strike or the Climate Action Forum). (We’ll still email you specific follow ups when you, for example, RSVP to an event or sign a petition.)

Climate Action Forum – we want your questions!

We’re preparing for the Climate Action Forum on February 4 and we want your help with questions! While we can’t guarantee we’ll be able to ask every question we get, we want to make sure we have a diverse set of questions to ask the candidates.

To stay organized and on topic, we’re periodically going to ask for questions in specific topic areas. This week, we’re asking for questions about energy and green spaces. Submit yours now!

Declaring a Climate Emergency in Pasadena

On January 14, Arroyo Seco Foundation held a mayoral candidate forum on the environment. While all of the candidates argued for incremental change in one way or another, they all said they would support declaring a climate emergency. Tell our current City Council they need to do that now so that the climate crisis is considered in every decision they make by sending a letter (it’s pre-written and automatic—just enter your contact details and we’ll send it for you!).

We’re planning on going to City Council on Monday, January 27th to ask them in person to declare a climate emergency—can you join us? The meeting starts at 6:30, as usual, but if you want to speak (highly encouraged!), we strongly recommend arriving no later than 5:15 PM so that you get a speaker card filled out and turned in—otherwise you could end up waiting until the end of the meeting to speak.

Update on the Green New Deal pledge

On December 9, we asked Pasadena City Council to sign the Green New Deal pledge that many of you signed a petition asking them to do. None of them did. So, last Monday we called them out for not even responding to our emails:

Why Pasadena needs a Green New Deal!

In case you missed it, last week I published an op-ed in Sequoyah’s newspaper outlining the responsibility Pasadena has in tackling the climate crisis. Give it a read, and submit your own op-eds to local newspapers!


Green New Deal Petition Signatures Delivered!

I want to thank everyone who signed our petition asking Pasadena City Council to pledge their support for a Green New Deal and getting fossil fuel money out of local politics so much.

After six hours of waiting last night, I was able to deliver the petition’s signatures (and pledges to sign) to the council members at 12:30 AM. None of the sitting members signed publicly last night, but we are following up with them soon to ensure they do.

Thank you to the select few who waited the entire meeting out and stayed to support. For those that couldn’t make it or had to leave early (smart choice), here are my remarks.

If you didn’t know, District 2 candidate Felicia Williams, District 4 candidate Charlotte Bland, and District 6 candidate Ryan Bell all signed the Green New Deal pledge last Friday at our strike, along with mayoral candidate Jason Hardin. Other non-incumbent candidates, including District 2 candidate Tricia Keane and District 6 candidate Tamerlin Godley, also plan to sign the pledge soon.

Thank you again to all those who signed the petition, and we’ll be sending updates soon.

Happy holidays,

Ozzy Simpson