Cities in green showdown

The cities of Kfar Saba and Ra'anana are facing off against each other in a battle to see which can be considered more green.

The cities of Kfar Saba and Ra'anana are facing off against each other in a battle to see which can be considered more green, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Hasharon. Each city is claiming that it is doing more to advance environmentally-friendly measures, and each is aiming to beat the other to be accepted by the international community's organization of green local governments. According to the report, Ra'anana, which calls itself "the Pearl of the Sharon," and Kfar Saba, the self-titled "First in the Sharon," have for many years been trying to outdo one another on issues such as education, commerce and housing, and now the two cities have found a new issue over which to squabble. Each city is aiming to be the first in the Sharon area to be accepted by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a body set up by the United Nations in 1990 to encourage cities and towns to make a commitment to sustainable development. The Toronto-based organization has strict rules for aspiring members, and more than 700 local government authorities have joined since its inception. Shoham is the only Israeli member so far. The report said Kfar Saba and Ra'anana are vying with each other to see which city can conserve the most energy, create the least garbage, waste the least water, and create the most parkland. Kfar Saba has installed energy-conserving lightbulbs in a large number of streets, is considering introducing hybrid transport, and has begun working on a planned "green neighborhood" which will contain structural measures to conserve water and electricity. Ra'anana is testing a new lighting system that it says has already reduced the consumption of electricity by 25 percent, is planning to change mayor Nahum Hofree's car to a hybrid vehicle next year, and has committed itself to advance "green" building projects. In addition, both cities are showcasing their large parks, with Kfar Saba saying it has 20 meters of green space for every resident and Ra'anana saying it has 17 meters of green space for each resident. Both cities have introduced environmental education programs into their schools, and both have set up numerous bottle and paper recycling bins on the streets. Kfar Saba is planning a pilot program to put individual newspaper recycling bins in 400 households, while Ra'anana has already begun a household newspaper recycling program, with 450 bins given out. The report quoted a spokeswoman for the Adam, Teva Ve'Din organization (the Israel Union for Environmental Defense) as saying that Ra'anana is clearly ahead of Kfar Saba and of most other Israeli cities in its environmental awareness, and while Kfar Saba is trying to close the gap, it is "making mistakes that Ra'anana made some years ago." But the spokeswoman said the group's overall impression of both cities' green plans was "very good."