News & Media
  • Thursday, October 22, 2015
    Small town thinks and acts big on green economic development
    City of Gonzales, Featured in The Registry in an article written by Irwin Speizer

    A strong breeze blows through the Salinas Valley, past vineyards and vegetable rows and small towns along busy Highway 101 until it reaches Gonzales, where it pauses to spin a commercial-size wind turbine that produces energy for one of the city’s main employers. The wind turbine stands as a symbol of achievement for a place that prides itself on a progressive can-do attitude that marries distinctly green policies with aggressive business expansion and development.
     
    Those two aims are often at odds, particularly in California. But Gonzales, a city of about 9,000 people, has figured out a way to bolster economic development while simultaneously advancing a commitment to sustainable and green principles. The results are in the numbers: Gonzales saw its property tax base grow by 16.65 percent from 2014 to 2015; double that of the next closest municipality in Monterey County. It has done that while simultaneously reducing the city’s carbon footprint thanks to the addition of solar and wind power, creative recycling programs and other efforts organized under a city initiative called Gonzales Grows Green (G3). The G3 initiative is built around three principles: economic vitality through diversity in growth, environmental responsibility and social equity.
    “We are about sustainability, using the environment better, saving energy,” says Gonzales City Manager René Mendez. “It provides additional value to companies besides breaks on fees. This is something else we bring to the table.”
    At the heart of what makes Gonzales work is a user-friendly approach to development that seeks solutions over confrontations. It is an attitude reflected in the 350-foot wind turbine, which Gonzales wanted to build as a sustainable power source. At first the turbine seemed doomed by concerns about its potentially lethal impact on the endangered California condor, which has been reintroduced to the mountainous Pinnacles National Park to the east to Big Sur on the west. Read More