Archive: Aug 2012

  1. Bond Insurer Sues to Undo Redevelopment Dissolution

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    Wall Street has weighed in on the dissolution of California’s former redevelopment agencies. Earlier this month, bond insurer Syncora Guarantee sued the state, claiming that the shuttering of 400-odd redevelopment agencies unfairly deprives bondholders of the money that they are owed. The insurer claims that the law violates both the California and U.S. constitutions, which each contain provisions that prohibit states from imposing laws that impair contractual rights. (more…)

  2. A Clearer Vision for California

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    It takes vision to get anything done. Right now we find ourselves in the midst of a transformative moment in U.S. politics and governance. At a time when resources must be allocated wisely, our leaders and decision-makers are asking the public to pick amongst competing visions for the future. These visions rightly focus on how public resources get used and what institutions, projects, and programs will be prioritized. (more…)

  3. Water Politics and the Art of Legacy-Making

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    A few months back, we noted that California was a state in serious need of a vision. Considered ungovernable by some, the Golden State has no shortage of problems. Governor Jerry Brown is weathering a slow recovery from a severe economic downturn, and a policymaking system that is often beholden to the whims of a disjointed electorate. These significant hurdles tend to complicate the task of legacy-making. In spite of this, Governor Brown has decided to stake his gubernatorial claim to fame on the promise of two massive infrastructure projects. (more…)

  4. If We Build it, Will They Get There Safely?

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    For the most part, transit projects are evaluated based on a pretty narrow set of criteria. Cost reigns supreme, but transit agencies and funders (like the FTA) also place heavy emphasis on efficiency and ridership numbers. Finishing a project on time and under budget is (rightfully) the goal of most transit providers. But the prominence of these metrics may obfuscate the aspects of transit that are most important to the end-users. And, in some cases, the focus on cost savings may negatively affect passenger safety. (more…)

  5. Collective Impact for Jobs

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    A couple of months back, we proclaimed that it’s time to focus on the job-doers. Now we’re pleased to highlight a conference that is focusing exclusively on workforce development in California. The California Workforce Association will be hosting the “Meeting of the Minds” conference in early September. The focus of the conference will be on collective impact, which essentially looks at ways to strategically coordinate investments and activities to create better outcomes for everyone. (more…)

  6. Harvesting Kinetic Energy

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    The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will soon be harvesting additional energy from its rail system by taking advantage of regenerative braking. The technology, widely used in hybrid vehicles, converts the kinetic energy of the vehicle into electricity that can be used later. The transit agency has already been capturing the kinetic energy generated by their trains to power lights. But now, SEPTA is expanding the technology to feed power back into the grid. Philadelphia-based Viridity Energy will be working with other energy-storage technology firms to make this nifty endeavor a reality.

    In addition to harvesting energy, the system offers multiple benefits to rail operators, including a 20-30% reduction in grid power consumption, a reduction in brake maintenance expenses, and the creation of a backup power source that enables vehicles to reach a station in the event of a power failure.

  7. HyperCities Launching

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    Like the popular saying goes, “You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going.” As many cities are anticipating an influx of new residents, it is critical to reflect on the historical trends that shaped the cities that we know today. HyperCities is “a digital research and educational platform for exploring, learning about, and interacting with the layered histories of city and global spaces.” This innovative program, designed through a collaborative effort between USC and UCLA, gives the public an opportunity to explore the history of their communities through an interactive program. HyperCities connects digital archives, maps and stories with the physical world. We think it’s pretty cool, and we’re looking forward to the launch at the end of the summer.

  8. LA County Wants Your Opinion on Housing

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    The Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning is preparing an update of the County General Plan’s Housing Element. The Housing Element “examines current and future housing needs and identifies public and private solutions to increase safe, decent and affordable housing and housing choice in the County’s unincorporated communities.” The County is soliciting input from the public to inform the planning process. You can fill out the bi-lingual (Spanish and English) survey here.