Santa Monica Testing New Bikeshare System

Leave a Comment

Santa Monica’s new bikeshare system Breeze, the first to launch in Los Angeles County, is currently testing a select group of seven bikeshare stations until September 30th. Read More…

Bringing Community School Parks to LA Neighborhoods

Leave a Comment

Los Angeles nonprofit, People for Parks, just launched its fundraising campaign to start two new Community School Parks. These neighborhood parks are schoolyards that are opened up to the community as playgrounds and parks when school isn’t in session. To reach its goal of opening two school playgrounds every weekend for one year, People for Parks needs to raise $24,000 in the next 30 days. Read More…

The High Cost of Getting High

Leave a Comment

We often write about the need to consider the equity, environmental and economic implications of our policies, advocacy and personal choices.  Even in seemingly unrelated policy areas, by asking the right questions we can see the interconnectedness of the three E’s.  For example, the debate over the decriminalization of marijuana use has been framed by health, civil liberty, public safety and tax revenue issues.  But, as our lead article details, the growing cultivation of pot indoors has real energy and greenhouse gas impacts.  On the flip side, the way California spends the revenue generated from its pioneering greenhouse gas emission reduction program (i.e., cap-and-trade) has enormous social equity concerns.  And in this time of smart phone apps and gee-whiz digital advances, we think a robust, equitable economy requires universal access to broadband – today’s equivalent of the public library, schoolhouse, encyclopedia, telephone, community center and employment office all rolled into one.  So as you embrace summer by reading the new old Harper Lee novel, enjoying the latest blockbuster, or reveling in the great outdoors, you might consider the interconnectedness of it all.  Or just take a deep breath and relax.

Sincerely,

Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

The Cap-and-Trade Spigot Opens

Leave a Comment

While the efficacy of California’s cap-and-trade program in reducing the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions continues to be a subject of debate, the program’s ability to generate revenue (almost $1 billion through 2014) has been impressive. And as the pot of cap-and-trade revenue grows, the state is seeing more competing proposals for funding. Over the past month or so, proceeds from the auction of emissions permits have been allocated to a host of new programs for some innovative projects. In addition, the state’s cap-and-trade program is focusing resources to serve more low-income and disadvantaged communities. Passed in 2012, SB 535 requires allocating a minimum of 25 percent of the state’s cap-and-trade revenues to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities; a minimum of ten percent of the proceeds must be used for projects located in disadvantaged communities. With this mandate in mind, we look at a few of the more innovative programs that were awarded funding to help improve our most vulnerable communities. Read More…

The Herb Ain’t Green

Leave a Comment

Indoor agriculture is touted as a way to make urban farming more prevalent, and as a method to sustainably increase food production in arid climates. But the expense of providing artificial light and the relatively high cost of urban land have largely precluded this specialized type of agriculture from widespread adoption. However, there are niche markets where economic incentives make indoor growing appealing in spite of its extraordinarily high energy costs. In the U.S., marijuana production is perhaps the most prominent (and controversial) sector to embrace wholesale indoor cultivation. For the growing list of jurisdictions where cannabis can be grown legally, localities and utility providers are worried about the energy needs of this burgeoning industry. For policymakers, the highly regulated environment for legal marijuana producers presents an opportunity to mandate operational efficiencies. But do other energy-intensive sectors stand to learn a thing or two from sustainably grown pot? Read More…

Narrowing the Digital Divide

Leave a Comment

According to the FCC’s 2015 Broadband Progress Report, 100 million American residents don’t have broadband internet service at home, even if their buildings are equipped with the necessary infrastructure. For many low-income households, the average monthly service cost of $42 is simply out of reach. The FCC recognizes that broadband “has become essential to participation in modern society, offering access to jobs, education, healthcare, government services and opportunity.” In spite of this recognized need, home internet is still not widely available for large segments of the population. But revised policies at the federal and state level may be helping to expand broadband internet service and narrow the nation’s digital divide. Read More…

City of Woodland Houses Nation’s First Zero Net Energy Affordable Housing

Leave a Comment

Non-profit sustainable affordable housing developer Mutual Housing California built the nation’s first certified zero-net energy rental housing project in the City of Woodland. Certified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program, the 3-acre Mutual Housing at Spring Lake project provides 62 affordable apartments and townhomes serving primarily low-income agricultural workers and their families in the community. Read More…

Cal State LA is Coming Downtown

Leave a Comment

Cal State LA is headed to Downtown Los Angeles. The university, located in East Los Angeles, announced that it will open a state-of-the-art 21,000 square foot satellite campus on 8th Street and Grand Avenue in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Read More…

Planning for a More Just Future

Leave a Comment

As we head into another hot summer, there’s a growing chorus of community leaders, advocates, elected officials, and spiritual leaders calling for a fundamental shift in how we address some of our most pressing problems. These messages focus on creating a more inclusive society – one that tackles systemic inequities and ensures that all of us have an opportunity to share in prosperity. In our nation’s urban centers, we’ve seen too many instances where underlying social inequalities become manifest through tragedy. In light of this, we’re looking at the how broader values of caring, stewardship, and empathy can help create a more just society. As planners, that means we need to double-down on best principles that guide our work. We should be cognizant of the real life, day-to-day issues that face working families, and we should prioritize listening and collaboration over maximizing short-term economic gains. This month, we take a look at how a fundamental focus on equity can reshape our transportation network and make the community planning process more relevant. Likewise, we look at how innovative financing approaches can help property owners undertake expensive seismic retrofits without penalizing those who are least able to pay. Throughout this issue, we see ongoing efforts that aim to deliver investments in a manner that reduces existing inequities. Let’s continue to support these practices and build a lasting constituency of practitioners, advocates, and decision-makers committed to advancing equity.

Sincerely,

Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

Taking Multi-Modal Transport to Scale

Leave a Comment

Americans have been driving less every year since 2007. This shift has been accompanied by regional and local planning efforts that are increasingly focused on giving residents transportation options that go beyond the automobile. There has been lots of positive momentum around transit expansion, planning for complete streets, and adopting initiatives aimed at making streets safer for people who ride bikes and walk. As planners, advocates, and their allies continue to make major multi-modal policy wins, groups are now focusing on the next big challenge. How do we translate successful experiments and policies at the local level to scalable interventions with adequate, sustainable funding? And how do we ensure that these interventions are implemented in a manner that reduces the systemic inequalities that characterize our existing transportation network? Read More…