Posted by Editor: FDBobko
JUNE 22 , 2023
Karen Wang
Communications Officer 
County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability
Article by Bella Bono
Pictures by EJ Dieterle 

Our speaker today was introduced by Susan Kealey. Karen Wang is a Montara resident and mom of 2 kids. She is also the Communications Officer for the County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability where she oversees communications to promote sustainability education and initiatives within the County and the community. She was formerly, the Director of the nonprofit, Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) and the founder and Director of Because Health, an environmental health education campaign. Karen completed her PhD in Strategic Management at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Karen also holds a MS in Environmental Science and a BA in Economics from Stanford University.  

The following are the key points covered by Karen in her presentation.

First the History of the Office of Sustainability - it  was formed in 2014, part of the county manager's office, helps the community become more sustainable. Now own county department, joined recently, solving for today and our long term future 

Karen asked our members, "What do ou think about when you hear sustainability? " The responses were:

  • Food, environment, climate change, running out of resources, agriculture, housing, 

  • Rotary has two beach clean ups coming up 

Karen Then presented the Mission statement: Building a sustainable community that fulfills the needs of the present and future. 

The OOS includes 20 partnered cities.  Her following slides listed:

  • Four areas of programs:

    • Climate protection

    • Climate resilience- adapting to effects of climate change we are seeing  

    • Waste reduction- how to deal with waste resources 

    • Livable communities- housing and transportation 


  • Climate action plan: 

    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 

    • Community action plan for unincorporated areas

    • Reduce use of fossil fuels 

    • Bring together all 20 locations to reduce gasses

  • Transitioning to clean energy

    • Peninsula clean energy (PCE)- electricity provider for all of San Mateo County

      • Close partnership BOS and all counties

      • Shift from gas to electric 

    • Bay Run: 

      • Rebates and technical assistance 

    • Electric vehicles: leasing or buying new and used electric vehicles 

  • Climate resilience:

    • Need to actively prepare 

    • Complete sea level rise vulnerability assessment 

      • Vulnerability of buildings, land, ag, etc. 

      • San Mateo county has higher risk than any other county 

      • Type of impacts and vulnerabilities, used to implement policies 

    • One shore Line: 

      • Expanding 

    • Asses hazards affecting areas

      • How we can protect county now and in the future 

    • 4 resilience projects

      • Senior Coastisders: resilience hub, access clean air and charging ports in emergencies 

  • Protecting water resources: 

    • Protect stormwater, coordinate conservation efforts and water quality efforts 

    • Coordinate and lead public outreach for pet waste, provide information on importance of cleaning up after pets 

    • Identify sources of bacteria, detect any leaks, etc

    • Strategy: Bioswale, collects water from sidewalks, filters pollutants from sidewalk

      • Can put them in your own home, rain gardens 

  • Engaging programs for all 

    • Local businesses take specific climate actions, become certified and recognized as green businesses 

    • Green businesses 

    • Youth climate programs- build next gen climate action leaders 

  • Waste reduction 

    • Manage resources, put nothing to waste, reduce landfills, grants and diversion practices

    • Reduce, recuse, recycle and rot 

    • Providing building deconstruction training 

    • Composting program 

    • Electronic reuse and reduce clinics 

      • Learn how to repair broken items 

    • Schools: teachers have access 

    • Food waste: lots go to landfills 

      • Reduces use and time we can keep landfill, rotting produces methane, require organic waste to be recycled (compost) 

      • Edible food recovery program: collect food from large companies that would go to landfill, redistributed to people who need it

        • One year recovered 5.5 million pounds and redistributed to people who needed it 

    • New ordinance food service can only use compostable foodware, foodware initiative, decreased plastic use

    • 200,000 grants to fund projects that divert waste 

  • Livable communities: 

    • Close to transit

    • Support county employees to find ways to commute

    • Active transportation plan, encourage walking and biking, decrease traffic 

    • Home for all, support solutions to creating homes

      • Engage community in decisions around housing

      • Address critical housing problems

      • Working on eliminating homelessness 

  • Get involved: 

    • Talk to friends and family 

    • Complete home energy and water audit 

    • Share small business resource center

    • Rebates and incentives to help you go electric 

    • Join a virtual sustainability academy workshop 

    • Pick up pet waste, even in own homes

    • Plant a rain garden 

    • Follow on social media or sign up for emails 

  • US is leading greenhouse gas emitter

  • San Mateo is most susceptible to sea level rise

    • Includes assets, roads, properties, buildings 

  • Important for San Mateo county to have housing from environmental purposes 

    • Cost of green initiatives increase, in turn push over to consumers 

    • Impacts of climate change that we pay for overshadow small costs form initiatives 

    • Impacts are direct result of not taking action  

PP Joe Brennan filled in for Pres, Krystlyn and wore a lovely tutu in her honor.  
Joe presented the following members for being AWESOME:
  1. Paul Rubel was honored and given a certificate and a  cupcake made by Liz. 

  2.   Irwin Cohen was honored for being amazing, getting cool speakers. 



Liz passed out posters advertising our Magic of the Coastside Lobster Fest for everyone to put up in offices and shops and anywhere they can. 

Barb needs some help creating a booklet for the auction items.

Rose and Barb sorted the items Colleen Haupt and the Big Wave gave us for the foundation fundraiser. Barb moved what could be used to our shed, the majority needed to be tossed because things were in open containers. 
Liz created a list of restaurants in town to help club members know where they could ask for gift certificates without someone else asking same location. 
For Relay for Life, each team was asked to donate a raffle item worth at least $50. Wendy donated a fantastic scratcher basket worth $150. 
Special Catered Lunch to Celebrate Pres Krystlyn and Welcome new Pres. Liz, June 29
Don't miss our July 39 catered lunch meeting where we will honor Krystlyn as she ends her year as President and welcome our 2023-24 President Liz Schuck who is taking on the leadership of our Club for the second time.

Next Thursday's lunch, will be catered by Chef Ellie Andrini of A Teaspoon of Love located here in HMB - RSVP is required. Chef Ellie Angelini graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco.  Chef Ellie has a passion for food, cooking and teaching others.  She decided to put them all together and share her passion with others!


Marble Game -  coolsadwink Joe drew a GREEN marble.