What We Do
We tackle big development projects and policy initiatives to address climate change more effectively. We believe planning should start from a basis of understanding the natural systems of the land, caring for the environment and working within it, instead of seeing nature as a blank canvas for development.
We bring together the diverse and deep expertise represented in Placer and Nevada Counties’ environmental groups and citizenry to establish a comprehensive and fact-based understanding of the landscape. Then we mediate between various project stakeholders to constructively design more environmentally-benign options.
Placer and Nevada Counties’ populations will grow significantly over the next 50 years. To accommodate this growth without forever losing the natural environment that makes these Counties unique and supports all life, we propose a new land-use vision and new values for land-use planning.
Who We Are
The Alliance for Environmental Leadership (AEL) is a coalition of local community influencers and organizations determined to re-frame the way our community grows and is governed through citizen advocacy, environmental leadership and by amplifying social justice issues.
AEL is a grassroots organization. We hold the belief that small groups of committed individuals can bring about change in society. In 2018, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a creative experiment to test their hypothesis on this idea. The experiment found that a committed minority was able to repeatedly bring about change in the views of the majority once it reached 25-30% – the tipping point of the overall group. This research on social tipping points is affirming for AEL as we continue to grow our community of aligned organizations and educated about Smart Growth and protect the environment that sustains us.
Our goal is to excite citizen participation in local governance – for it is here at the local level that decisions most directly impact us and where we create the quality of life we desire for our loved ones and our community.
The Alliance for Environmental Leadership brings together like-minded organizations and citizens to defend natural ecosystems, organize for civic engagement and advocate for Smart Growth because it serves all community members and protects the environment that sustains us.
Alternative Development Plans
In 2018-2019, AEL took on as a project the, proposed Placer County General Plan amendments, including a proposed new industrial city to be developed on 10,000+ acres of high-quality vernal pool grasslands. AEL funded and created the Citizen-Initiated Smart Growth Plan (CISGP) as a viable environment-first alternative to Placer County’s proposed development plan. In the CISGP , we demonstrated the value of the vernal pool grasslands as habitat, for flood-control and as a carbon-sink and proposed a Smart Growth development framework. In quantifying the impacts of our Plan versus the County’s Plan, we reduced per capita carbon emissions by 75%, created a perfect-fit for housing and jobs, reduced our urban footprint, achieved the County’s economic development objectives, among many other benefits.
The more citizens know about where they live and their legal entitlement to participate in land use land decision-making, the more engaged they become in their community and the greener and more housing-equitable our region will become.
AEL encourages active citizenry by hosting a variety of workshops where we train citizens on how to comment on Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs)s and how to interface with their local government. We’ve hosted over 30 community workshops so far. In 2020, we are launching the Enviro Events Blast- a monthly newsletter calendar for all environmental events happening in Placer and Nevada Counties.
We fact-check because conventional wisdom is sometimes false and sometimes people of perceived authority create obstacles to prevent Smart Growth. Instead, their long-held perceptions pave-the-way for urban and residential sprawl, which is harmful to all living things. We hear from those with perceived authority that “Only single family homes make a profit for developers” and “There is not market for townhomes and denser, more affordable forms of housing.” More often than not, when we ask for proof, there is none- it is hear-say.
AEL does our own research and publishes reports that provide a broad range of development solutions, disprove the “conventional wisdom” about sprawl development being the only profitable mode and demonstrate solutions to land use development that solve environmental problems and meet all citizens’ housing needs. For example, in 2019 we studied housing for Placer County’s fastest growing region and published our findings as Citizen-Initiated Smart Growth Plan Phase 2.
Leslie Warren, Chair
Jan Bell, Vice Chair
Stu Clancy, Treasurer