Category Archive: infastructure

  1. The Cap-and-Trade Spigot Opens

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    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. (more…)

  2. Narrowing the Digital Divide

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    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. (more…)

  3. Preparing for “The Big One”

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    After watching Hollywood’s latest take on the demise of California, we thought we’d check in on progress that cities throughout the state have made to seismically retrofit vulnerable structures. San Francisco’s most recent seismic retrofit program is well underway, and it’s been about six months since Los Angeles revealed plans to embark on a similarly ambitious effort to shore-up the city’s at-risk buildings. But as earthquake-prone cities look to finance expensive retrofits, what tools are available? And how do we finance these efforts without significantly increasing costs for tenants and building owners? A growing effort to expand mechanisms like the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program to help property owners cover seismic retrofit costs may be part of the answer.

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  4. City of Los Angeles Median Design Competition

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    Image from UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47484186@N06/12327998474/

    Image from UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47484186@N06/12327998474/

    The City of Los Angeles Innovation and Performance Commission (IPC) recently approved $35,000 to fund a competition for designers to develop a kit to help communities implement median beautification projects. The proposed kit will include streamlined permitting, little to no irrigation to address the drought conditions, and blueprints for communities wishing to improve their public medians. (more…)

  5. Bringing Equity to Transportation’s Sharing Economy

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    Bicycle sharing networks, car share services, and ride hailing applications have been touted as a new means to reduce our reliance on the automobile and give people more mobility options. Unfortunately, the promise of the sharing economy hasn’t been realized by all communities. In California, where communities of color are disproportionately affected by transportation-related pollution, there’s a growing movement to ensure that low-income neighborhoods and vulnerable populations benefit from the state’s investments in clean transportation. How can policy-makers and advocates use this momentum to bring car share and bicycle share services to low-income Californians? (more…)

  6. Time to Ditch the Highway Trust Fund

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    In what has become the norm for transportation finance in the U.S., the national Highway Trust Fund is once again on the brink of insolvency. Everyone acknowledges that the federal gas tax meant to finance transportation infrastructure – and left unchanged since 1993 – can’t keep up with the country’s growing transport needs. And while low gas prices have state and national politicians mulling an oft-contemplated (but rarely successful) attempt to raise fuel taxes, it may be time to consider a completely different tactic. In the face of dwindling fuel tax revenue, state governments are trying new approaches to finance transportation improvements. Can these state experiments transform transportation at the national level? (more…)

  7. New Pedestrian Bridge in the Works for LA River

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    With the first phase of Glendale’s aptly named Riverwalk project complete, designers, planners, and the public are now weighing options for a bike and pedestrian bridge that will span the LA River. The structure will span one of three potential locations in the seven-mile long Glendale Narrows. (more…)

  8. Slow, Expensive, and Spotty

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    Image from David Clow: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7791881@N04/4499576525/

    President Obama’s recent remarks on net neutrality have sparked a national debate on the notion of the internet as an open and equitable platform. The debate has made for some strange bedfellows, aligning Justice Antonin Scalia with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Obama, while pitting civil rights groups against one another.  But no matter what your take is on the debate, we can all agree that internet access in the United States is slow and expensive.

    Does regulating broadband internet service like a public utility have the potential to ease access, increase speeds, and lower costs? And, even if federal regulators fail to fully enact net neutrality, how can local governments bolster their broadband infrastructure to meet the needs of an increasingly internet-reliant economy?

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  9. Rail Transit in Panama

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    Image from ELP Advisors

    Image from ELP Advisors

    With First Rail Transit Line in Central America, Panama Aims to Remake its Urban Centers

    This month, ELP heads south to Panama to explore Central America’s very first rail transit system. With the recent opening of the Panama City’s Metro de Panama, as well as concurrent improvements to MetroBus, the regional bus system, Panama City is poised to not only increase connectivity, but also radically alter its urban landscape.

    In October, a delegation of Panamanian officials, including key legislators, finance experts, and city planning officials, visited California and met with public, private and non-profit sector leaders to discuss issues of social and urban economic development. (more…)