Mayors Choose Seattle as America's Most Liveable City

CHICAGO, Illinois, June 13, 2005 (ENS) - Seattle has been declared the most liveable large city in the United States at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting now underway in Chicago. Seattle won top honors in the category for cities over 100,000. Trenton, New Jersey was chosen as the most liveable small city.

An independent panel of judges selected by the Conference of Mayors chose Seattle and Trenton from 151 cities throughout the United States that were also considered for the award. The awards were presented Saturday at the Conference of Mayors’ Annual Luncheon.

Nickels

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels began his public service career with the City of Seattle at age 19. He took office as mayor on January 1, 2002. (Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor)
Seattle was recognized for Mayor Greg Nickels' climate protection program that is aimed at improving Seattle’s local quality of life, while reducing pollution that contributes to global climate change.

“Mayor Nickels' Climate Protection Initiative is a multi-faceted program to improve quality of life in Seattle and at the same time combat global warming,” said the judges. “This program serves as a model that any city can use, and if every city did use would be a huge benefit for the environment.”

“Seattle is a city that recognizes the importance of climate protection,” said Mayor Nickels. “This is a great honor for me, and for all of Seattle’s citizens who are committed to protecting our environment for coming generations.”

The initiative combines efforts to reduce global warming pollution from city government operations, such as the municipally owned electric utility's commitment to zero net greenhouse gas emissions, with efforts to reduce community emissions. In Seattle, that means smart growth policies and strategies to reduce urban sprawl and dependency on automobiles.

Green building criteria are part of the Climate Protection Initiative. New Seattle city facilities must meet strong sustainable building standards, and incentives encourage residential and commercial developers to build green.

A green fleet program reduces pollution from Seattle’s more than 3,000 vehicles through increased use of hybrid gas-electric cars, ultra-low sulfur diesel, and biodiesel.

A Green Seattle Initiative is restoring 2,500 acres of urban forest as part of the program.

Seattle

Seattle, Washington lies on Puget Sound's Elliot Bay, with Lake Union to the east. (Photo by Leslie Eudy courtesy NREL)
And a new Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection is tasked with identifying ways to reduce global warming pollution across the community.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, if we are to control the effects of climate disruption,” said Mayor Nickels. “But thanks to these programs, Seattle has a cleaner source of electricity, sustainable buildings, and new economic opportunities. We’re proud to serve as an example to other cities that you don’t have to make a choice between your environment and your economy. You can improve both.”

Trenton, New Jersey was honored as the most liveable small city, with a population under 100,000 for Mayor Doug Palmer’s Youth Advocacy Cabinet has maintained and its focus on enhancing youth enrichment programs and of improving youth violence and gang prevention, intervention and enforcement services.

Other mayors recognized for environmental accomplishments include Mayor Rhine McLin of Dayton, Ohio and Loretta Spencer of Huntsville, Alabama.

“The City of Dayton’s Brownfield Redevelopment Program, under the leadership of Mayor McLin, works to change perceptions of the city by providing development ready land where before there was aged, underutilized industrial facilities,” observed the judges.

“This program shows what can be accomplished by bringing together relevant segments of the community to address a common need of older industrial cities. They didn’t just talk about this problem in Dayton, they tackled it headon with significant projects.”

excavator

Dayton is removing unsightly abandoned buildings to create a fresh start for the downtown area. (Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor)
On May 9, demolition equipment began removing an abandoned downtown brownfield site in downtown Dayton in preparation for a new "Tech Town" campus. Mayor McLin said, “We have done a lot of planning and preparation work to get to this point. Now we can see real physical progress by clearing out old buildings and getting the space ready to attract new jobs and businesses downtown.”

In Huntsville, the judges liked the city's Homeless Camp Clean-Up Program, calling it "an innovative and cost effective method to significantly change some of the most unsightly areas of a community through the combined efforts of beautification/litter reduction groups, law enforcement, homeless advocates and inmate labor."

The city's Operation Green Team is affiliated with the Keep America Beautiful anti-litter and environmental awareness organization. Homeless people clean up the areas where they live and areas they frequent. The homeless are not paid to do cleanups, which happen every fall and every spring.

The judges said the anti-litter effort gives homeless people in Huntsville a sense of participation in the community. “This program made people at the bottom feel they could be responsible citizens as well. It is a humane way of dealing with a problem that faces every city.”

Mayor John Duran of West Hollywood, California won recognition in the small cities category for his city's innovative efforts to recycle restaurant food waste.

“In an effort to meet a California law mandating each city divert 50 percent of its solid waste from landfills, West Hollywood implemented an innovative program to recycle restaurant food waste,” the panel of judges said.

Restaurant food waste is sorted at the Athens Services yard and then transported to California Biomass in Victorville, where it is converted into composting material for citrus orchards, lettuce fields and other agricultural applications. Crops treated with the composted material require 30 percent less water and 30 percent less chemical fertilizer than other crops, and the compost helps decrease salinity in soils.

“Mayor Duran has a strong environmental ethic and this program has half of all restaurants citywide participating in the food waste recycling program – fully 80 percent of the waste generated by these restaurants is recycled," the judges said. "This is a proven effort to strive towards California’s ultimate goal of zero waste and deserves recognition.”