City of Watsonville Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Holistic Approach to Climate Risks

Harris & Associates is leading the City of Watsonville’s climate resilience planning efforts, which encompass the preparation of the City’s first Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), Environmental Justice Element, and incorporating these disparate analyses into the General Plan to meet State mandates. This unique approach enables the City to holistically consider climate risks across sectors, departments, and programs and results in a robust and coordinated response that protects community resources and reflects community priorities.

The development of the CAAP is a critical step in the City’s efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change. The CAAP presents the City with specific, attainable greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets that meet state legislative targets while also providing clear direction for the role of future planning and private development in achieving these targets.

Core Elements

The CAAP provides a roadmap to reduce Watsonville’s GHG emissions, combat the impacts of climate change, and explore carbon sequestration, habitat restoration, and repair of the natural world. It includes actions to reduce community GHG emissions, adapt to hazards from climate change, and to draw excess carbon out of the atmosphere for climate restoration. The majority of the CAAP is devoted to defining projects and programs that will reduce carbon emissions in four sectors:

  1. Transportation
  2. Building electrification
  3. Green energy and energy efficiency
  4. Food waste diversion

The CAAP includes measurable, trackable reduction measures to accomplish a legal target consistent with state emission reduction goals. The state has established emissions reduction targets of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 in accordance with Senate Bill (SB) 32, carbon neutrality by 2045 in accordance with State Exective Order (EO) B-55-18, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 in accordance with EO S-3-05. The CAAP established and demonstrated a path to achieve an aggressive target of advancing the state’s 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 to the CAAP forecast year of 2030.

The CAAP included measures to make progress towards the City's aspirational goal of the net-negative emissions by 2030 consistent with the Climate-Safe California Campaign goal supported by the Watsonville City Council.  

Beyond the Blueprints

Harris used City-specific modeling using the Urban Footprint model to update the AMBAG-provided inventory to better reflect City vehicle trip generation and associated emissions. Additionally, the CAAP was prepared with high sensitivity to the City’s specific concerns, such as achieving necessary GHG reductions while avoiding costs to individual residents. The CAAP focuses on choices that the City can make in planning and incorporate into future infrastructure improvements, and focuses reduction measures that require individual action in areas where state or local incentive programs have historically been available.

The CAAP was also prepared with the expectation that future updates will be necessary to adapt to a changing legislative landscape, technology, and evolving science. Long-term goals were evaluated, potential future measures identified, and calculation details were provided to the client to assist in tracking progress and future updates. The project included development of a CAAP dashboard website where residents can easily access the CAAP targets, reduction measures, and how they relate to responding to the hazards related to climate change.

In order to provide the City with a qualified plan for CEQA tiering purposes, an Initial Study/Negative Declaration was also prepared on an accelerated schedule concurrent with the CAAP.

Meet the Team

Darin Neufeld, AICP

Darin Neufeld, AICP

Director / Environmental Planning + Compliance

Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott

Director / Environmental Planning + Compliance

Sharon Toland

Sharon Toland

Project Manager / Environmental Planning + Compliance


City of Watsonville


Watsonville, CA


Planning + Development