Five years ago LA’s present mayor vowed to make the city the cleanest, greenest in the nation. If the authors of a new UCLA report have anything to say about it, candidates in next year’s election will pledge even more specific goals for sustainability.
The report’s called Vision 21. It outlines 25 goals for what public officials in Los Angeles could accomplish in the next 8 years in matters of energy, environment and climate change, "because that’s what the mayor’s administration and the next city council really are going to have responsibility for and what they can really influence," says Mark Gold of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment, one of the report’s co-authors.
He says the most transformative goals promote renewable energy, alternative fuel cars, and aggressively changing the LA Department of Water and Power’s energy mix. "Getting rid of coal which has been 45% of our energy, you know, it’s always been an embarrassment that LA was still relying on coal fired power plants for its energy," Gold says. "That’s going too be difficult for them to do."
All of the goals include targets to measure progress. Gold and his co-authors recommend more parks in the city: that goal’s target is a higher percentage of Angelenos who live within a half-mile of open space. They recommend cutting the city’s water consumption to about 100 gallons per person daily; that’s about a 15 percent cut from what people use now.
Gold also emphasizes that LA needs better sustainability goals for vulnerable and industrial neighborhoods, including Pacoima, Boyle Heights and Wilmington. "That’s an area that needs to be high priority, is to make sure that there’s greater equity across Los Angeles from the standpoint of these environmental health risks," he says.
Gold says Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has done a pretty good job on environmental issues. The idea behind this report is to ensure that the next mayor has more funding and political juice to make environmental fixes stick by throwing down the gauntlet now.
He says some candidates may be interested in picking that gauntlet up. "Within 2 hours [of issuing the report] I got a couple of emails from two of the candidates basically saying, looks good, we’re interested in it, and we’ll take a hard look," Gold says.
The next big public opportunity for LA’s four major mayoral candidates to weigh in on environmental policies is a debate a week from Saturday. Cosponsored by the LA League of Conservation Voters and the LA League of Women Voters, it'll air from 7-8 PM on ABC7.