Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles announced his new "Sustainable City pLAn," a far-reaching decree that seeks to make Los Angeles sustainable in ways ranging from water to solar energy to waste. Among other things, the plan seeks to reduce daily Vehicle Miles Traveled by 5 percent by 2025, to implement the Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic fatalities, to have zero days in which air pollution reaches unhealthy levels by 2025, and to complete 32 miles of Los Angeles River public access by 2025. The plan defines sustainability broadly, to include not only ecological goals but also broad goals of social and economic sustainability.
The plan seeks to reduce driving and pollution, increase walkability within neighborhoods (using WalkScore), improve pedestrian safety, promote development of affordable housing and transit-oriented development, support the re:codeLA initiative to update the city's zoning code, revitalize the L.A. River, and support environmental justice, among other goals. Garcetti also signed a mayoral directive that requires all city departments to incorporate pLAn goals into their programs, and establishes sustainability officers in applicable departments and bureaus. At a signing event, he pledged that this "is not a plan for the shelves."
San Diego County Rescinds Climate Plan
In a long-awaited move, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors officially rescinded the county's Climate Action Plan, which had been the subject of a lawsuit from the Sierra Club since 2012 asserting that the plan violated CEQA and didn't do enough to combat global warming. On April 11, the California Supreme Court ruled against the county on the plan, denying its request to review and appeals court decision against the county and legally requiring the county to rescind the plan within 30 days. The 4th District Court of Appeals had ruled that the plan lacks the necessary specifics and enforcement mechanism to achieve the goals. "The Sierra Club wants to see a climate action plan that has meaningful and enforceable measures to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets," Davin Widgerow, a representative of the San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
National Planning Achievement Awards
The American Planning Association announced its 2015 National Planning Achievement Awards, recognizing the work of three California organizations among the 12 nationwide recipients. Among the winners:
- Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan, which provides a toolkit to local agencies in two states and five counties to rebalance the region's environment and economy while confronting climate change.
- Pop-Up Outreach efforts in San Diego, which seek to connect neighborhoods that have historically low levels of trust in local government with urban planners through simple outreach efforts, including a chalkboard chat, street sign survey boxes, and pop-up feedback trees.
- Tongva Park & Ken Genser Square: a new urban park in Santa Monica that was once a parking lot. It covers 7.4 acres, features a lush landscape including rolling hills and gardens, overlooks the Santa Monica Pier, and is just two block away from the future terminus of a new light rail line.
Awards will be given out at the national APA conference in Seattle next week.
Lennar Preserves $1 billion Judgement in Suit against a San Diego Developer
A San Diego developer must pay $1 billion to Miami home builder Lennar Corp. following an appeals court ruling that the developer, Nicolas Marsch III, defamed Lennar and improperly deleted emails. The ruling is the culmination of a five-year lawsuit, which began when Marsch claimed that Lennar cheated him out of millions of dollars in a development of a private golf community. Marsch had hired Barry Minkow, a notorious con man now in prison for his involvement with Marsch, to back his claims. The Appeals Court cited in its ruling Marsch's "deletion of relevant emails, the concealment of material witnesses, lying during depositions, providing false testimony before the trial court and much more."
Navy SEALs Release EIR for $1B Campus
A proposed new Navy SEAL campus - a 1.5 million square foot development on the northern edge of Imperial Beach in South San Diego - took a step forward with the recent release of its final Environmental Impact Report. Built over a decade, the new campus would move the SEALs' center of activity from Coronado Island, where it has been since 1962, south to a largely empty piece of the Silver Strand beach. The main headquarters and the training centers will remain in Coronado, but the new campus would provide logistical support buildings, equipment-use and maintenance-training facilities, classroom and hands-on tactics instructional space, among other buildings. Residents of Coronado Cays, an upscale housing development just north of the proposal, told the San Diego Union-Tribue that they are concerned that loud helicopter traffic could impact their quality of life.
UCLA Gives L.A. County C+ on Environmental Issues
UCLA issued its first comprehensive environmental "report card" for the city of Los Angeles, giving the city an overall grade of C+ and indicating that there is "tremendous room for improvement in all six environmental areas" of water, air, ecosystem health, waste, environmental quality of life, and energy and greenhouse gases. Among other things, researchers from UCLA's Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability said in the report that L.A.'s air quality regularly fails federal standards for pollution, that excessive levels of pollutants are found in virtually all the region's bodies of water, and that the county's waste recycling program is robust but lacks data on how much is actually recycled.
Judge Invalidates Take Permits for Logging Plan
A federal judge invalidated incidental take permits that officials granted to Fruit Growers Supply Co. which allowed the company to harm threatened species in logging private land on 150,000 acres in Siskiyou County. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins said that that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly factored conservation efforts by the U.S. Forest Service into the company's plan to conserve spotted owl populations, adding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should have also factored the timber operations' short term effects on coho salmon.
Group Lists Rogue-Smith Rivers as ï¿½Endangered'
American Rivers' 2015 list of "America's Most Endangered Rivers" includes the Rogue-Smith Rivers in Oregon and California as one of the ten most endangered rivers in the U.S. in need of immediate governmental help. The report says that proposed nickel mining in the headwaters of the Northern California rivers would threaten the rivers' salmon runs - with an average of 100,000 fish returning each year - plant biodiversity, and recreation. The report recommends that the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Department of Interior withdraw the area from mining immediately.
Bay Area Bike Share Program Announces Ambitious Growth Plan
The Bay Area Bike Share program could see a massive influx of bikes to its program, expanding tenfold from 700 to 7,000 bikes under a proposal announced by the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. The proposal would extend the program for the first time into the East Bay. In San Francisco, the number of bikes would jump from 328 to 4,500; in San Jose from 129 to 1,000. In the East Bay, 850 bikes would go to Oakland, 400 to Berkeley and 100 to Emeryville. However, Redwood City, Palo Alto and Mountain View, which participated in the two-year pilot program, are cut out of the new proposal, based on low ridership numbers. Motivate, the company that operates the bike-share program, bought out previous owner Alta Bike Share, which had significant management problems that hampered cities from expanding their programs.