Council of the City of Berkeley, California  [Printer-friendly version]
February 1, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The City of Berkeley, California has proposed
the "precautionary principle approach" as an overarching guide for
municipal policy. Here is the proposed ordinance, which will be
considered in March.]

BE IT ORDAINED by the Council of the City of Berkeley as follows:

Section 1.

That Chapter 12.29 is added to the Berkeley Municipal Code to read as


The purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, safety, and
general welfare of the community by minimizing health risks, improving
air quality, protecting the quality of ground and surface water,
minimizing consumption of resources, and minimizing the City's
contribution to global climate change by implementing in a phased
manner, as provided in this chapter, that the City shall use a
precautionary principle approach in its decisions.

12.29.020 Definitions.

Whenever any of the words hereinafter defined are used in this
chapter, they shall be construed to mean the following:

A. "City" shall mean, for the purposes of this chapter, the City of

B. "City of Berkeley Precautionary Principle policy:" Where threats
of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of
full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed
as sufficient reason for the City to postpone measures to prevent the
degradation of the environment or protect human health. Any gaps in
scientific data uncovered by the examination of alternatives will
provide guideposts for future research, but will not prevent
protective action being taken by the City. As new scientific data
become available, the City will review its decisions and make
adjustments when warranted.

C. "Precautionary Principle" approach shall mean a course of action
and decision-making by the City guided by the following tenets:

** Anticipatory Action: Anticipatory action prevents harm.
Government, business, community groups, and the public share this

** Right to Know: The community has a right to know complete and
accurate information on potential health and environmental impacts
associated with the selection of products, services, operations or

** Alternatives Assessment: Examine a full range of alternatives and
select the alternative with the least potential impact on health and
the environment including the alternative of doing nothing.

** Consideration of Significant Costs: Consider significant short-
term and long-term costs in comparing product alternatives, when
feasible. This includes evaluation of significant costs expected
during the lifetime of a product, (e.g. raw materials, manufacturing
and production, transportation, use, clean-up, acquisition, extended
warranties, operation, supplies, maintenance, disposal costs, long and
short-term environmental and health impacts); and that expected
lifetime compared to other alternatives.

** Participatory Decision Process: Decisions applying the
Precautionary Principle should be transparent, participatory by
including community input, and informed by the best available

12.29.030 Application of Precautionary Principle by City in Existing

The City shall continue to abide by the following policies, which were
previously adopted by the City Council and implemented by the City
embodying the Precautionary Principle:

A. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy. (Resolution No.
62,693-N.S., 2004)

Regarding the purchase of, and providing specifications for, products
or services that reduce waste and toxics, prevent pollution, contain
recycled content, save energy and water, follow green building
practices, employ sustainable landscape management techniques,
conserve forests, and encourage agricultural bio-based products to be
implemented in a phased manner, as provided for in section 12.29.040,
beginning with janitorial products used by the City.

B. Non-Polystyrene Foam Food Packaging. (Resolution No. 62,693-N.S.,
2004 and BMC Section 11.60.090) Regarding City purchase of
polystyrene foam food packaging.

C. Pentachlorophenol, Arsenic And Creosote Treated Wood. (Resolution
No. 62,693-N.S., 2004 and Resolution No. 61,724-N.S., 2002) Regarding
the purchase of all pentachlorophenol, arsenic, and creosote treated
wood by the City of Berkeley.

D. Redwood Products. (Resolution No. 62,693-N.S., 2004 and Resolution
No. 58,704-N.S., 1996). Regarding the purchase of virgin redwood
products and previously used or certified sustainably harvested
redwood for City projects.

E. Tropical Hardwood. (Resolution No. 62,693-N.S., 2004 and
Resolution No. 58,291-N.S., 1995) Regarding the purchase or use by
the City of tropical hardwoods and products.

F. Eliminate Anthropogenic Sources of Dioxin Pollution. (Resolution
No. 62,693-N.S., 2004 and Resolution No. 60,196-N.S., 1999) Regarding
the City's purchasing practice to increase dependence on alternatives
such as chlorine-free paper and PVC-free plastics, among other

G. Green Building. (Resolution No. 62,693-N.S., 2004 and Resolution
No. 62,284-N.S., 2003). Regarding the use of the US Green Building
Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green
Building Rating System Standards for City owned and operated projects.

H. Integrated Pest Management Policy. (Resolution No. 62,693-N.S.,
2004 and Resolution No. 54,319-N.S., 1988). Regarding the use of
Integrated Pest Management principles for pest control and pesticide
use by the City.

I. Purchasing Recycled and Recyclable Paper. (Resolution No. 62,693-
N.S., 2004 and Resolution No. 55,327- N.S., 1990) Regarding the
City's purchasing preference for recycled content paper.

J. City Administrative Policy Regarding Mercury. Regarding City's
purchase of fluorescent lamps with low mercury content for fluorescent

12.29.040 Application of Precautionary Principle by City in Future

The City shall continue to implement the Precautionary Principle in
additional areas as the City Manager determines are feasible.

12.29.050 Annual Report on Implementing Actions.

Annually the City Manager shall submit a report to the City Council

(a) the status of implementation of actions required by Resolutions
listed in Section 12.29.030; and

(b) the status of activities undertaken to implement the Precautionary
Principle in Section 12.29.040. Sufficient information shall be
provided to enable an assessment of progress and to identify proposed
actions that were deemed infeasible by the City Manager pursuant to
12.29.040 above.

12.29.060 Precautionary Principle Limited to Promotion of General

In undertaking the enforcement of this Chapter, the City is assuming
an undertaking only to promote the general welfare. It is not
assuming, nor is it imposing on its officers and employees, an
obligation for breach of which it is liable in money damages to any
person who claims that such breach proximately caused injury nor may
this Chapter provide any basis for any other judicial relief
including, but not limited to, a writ of mandamus or an injunction.

12.29.070 Severability.

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, or phrase of this
chapter is for any reason declared unconstitutional, invalid, or
ineffective by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision
shall not affect the validity or the effectiveness of the remaining
portions of this chapter or any part thereof. The City Council hereby
declares that it would have adopted this chapter notwithstanding the
unconstitutionality, invalidity, or ineffectiveness of any one or more
of its sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, or phrases.

Section 2.

Copies of this Ordinance shall be posted for two days prior to
adoption in the display case located near the walkway in front of Old
City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Within 15 days of
adoption, copies of this Ordinance shall be filed at each branch of
the Berkeley Public Library and the title shall be published in a
newspaper of general circulation.