This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Coral Gables, Florida, City Commissioner Vince C. Lago.
Commissioner Lago has spearheaded a multitude of legislative initiatives that encourage the City to be at the forefront of sustainability. He is dedicated to transportation planning and is committed to enhancing South Florida’s transportation system while meeting energy conservation needs and preserving the physical and social environment of the community.
What is unique about protecting the City of Coral Gables natural resources?
The City of Coral Gables is a coastal community and a destination for international business. We recognize that sustainability must be a key focus of the City’s policies and services, with targeted investments in energy, water and waste efficiency. Creating this sustainable city requires a commitment of leadership and coordination across the organization. Whereas, the City will consider the environmental impacts of its operations, and develop creative and practical solutions that will minimize our ecological footprint. We will integrate sustainability in the places residents and employees live, work and play, and provide the guidance and resources for our businesses and citizens.
I am committed to strategic and comprehensive sustainability planning throughout all departments and divisions. We will design, build and maintain our facilities, parks and streets to the highest of standards that promote efficiency and safety for our residents, visitors and employees.
As a parent, are you concerned about the effects of climate change on your children and the children of Coral Gables?
As a Miami native and father to two young girls, I am concerned about the fate of our environment – not just for this generation but generations to come. It is important to take proactive measures and not reactionary ones in order to reduce our impact on the environment. We can do this by: creating awareness, educational outreach, long-term planning and joint collaboration.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important, and how can efforts to address clean air and climate change be achieved in our current political climate?
Quite often, people associate political party affiliation with whether or not you care for the environment or about sustainable initiatives. I can attest that this is a misnomer and absolutely not true. It is possible for there to be conservative conservationism, it exists. We are all stewards of the environment regardless of where we are from and what we believe in and it is vital for us to care for the world we live, for the places we call home. This should be a multi-party, united effort. For this reason, local, state and federal government officials must come together and develop policies that will help alleviate environmental impacts.
Is there anything you’d like to share with Moms Clean Air Force’s one million members and with the members living in Coral Gables?
With regard to the City of Coral Gables, I am proud to have spearheaded the concept of sustainability. Prior to me coming into office 4 years ago, sustainability was a foreign concept. We did not even practice recycling in city buildings. Today, we have developed a Sustainability Master Plan which will serve to make the city a more sustainable and resilient community over the next 10 years. The plan will help identify projects the City can do to can decrease our energy, water, and fuel consumption while increasing sustainability education/awareness, waste diversion (recycling) and alternative modes of transportation.
We take pride in being the first City in the State of Florida to place a ban on plastic bags and have also placed a ban on polystyrene, commonly referred as Styrofoam. Prior to enacting these legislative initiatives, we understood the importance of opening the dialogue with our business community and worked closely with our BID and Chamber of Commerce. We did not want to place a financial burden or any hardships on businesses so we launched a 12-month education program where we work directly with business owners and help them plan effectively for making the shift to reusable products. We were surprised to have received minimal push-back from our businesses.