Los Angeles has placed 7th overall in a survey of sustainability policies and practices of American and Canadian cities. Second in California (San Francisco placed first); better than you'd think, though, when you drill down into the different data sets. We may not get a blue ribbon, but the purple ribbon (the one I recall getting in the 50 butterfly when I ws a kid swimmer) keeps us respectable.
Siemens sponsored the Green City Index, which was run by the Economist Intelligence Unit; it's the first of its kind, in the US and Canada, though Siemens has been indexing other parts of the world longer. 27 American and Canadian cities got looked over for environmental governance, air, waste, water, transportation, buildings, land use, energy, and climate change policies in a comprehensive report.
Angelenos, you can't say they didn't ask: LADWP officials hold their last big "community collaboration" session tonight - at the Hope Street HQ from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. City council's still the final word on if and when rates go up, but DWP seems to really want Angelenos to have first say - and that's now.
DWP's been doing these sessions for a month now, and they're slick: power point presentations, group facilitators, breakdowns of a lot of water rate and power rate information. Even still, a scattering of voices is complaining this is all happening too fast. The latest addition is the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition: 30 or so of its members decided over the holiday weekend they want a delay. "LANCC cannot support any rate increases until the Ratepayers Advocate has reviewed and analyzed these rate increases and discussed the review and analysis with the Ratepayers and the public," their resolution reads in part.
I went to the second of seven (plus one) Los Angeles Department of Water and Power meetings last night. DWP's rolling out what it's calling "community conversations" - they brief everybody about what they're asking for, why they're asking for it, and then they take questions and comments. In Woodland Hills Thursday they stayed until 9:30 talking to people as they packed up.
In Woodland Hills, by the way, nobody talked about coal. (Except the DWP - explaining that while it could get off Navajo coal by 2014, the costs (beyond 33 million dollars) aren't figured into their 3-year budget plan.)
What people did care about? Pensions. Why they're big. Who's paying for them. Did I mention, why they're big? And if you look close at the signs from one of the several breakout sessions, you can see what else the DWP's contending with out there: mistrust. People have a lot of questions about the numbers, and what's up for discussion. Will they always? Unclear. But it does seem, talking to people, like the last decade did some damage.
The one-time deputy mayor of Los Angeles has hit the big time. Jay Carson worked for the Villaraigosa administration for just over a year, leaving last fall. That's around when tthe Clinton Climate Initiative got its peanut butter all up in the chocolate of C40, a group of large cities working together to cut their emissions (well, someone's got to do it). So now Carson is the chief executive of the Reese's peanut butter cup that is the C40-Clinton Climate Intiative. And with a budget of $15 mil and 70 people working for him, Carson recently rated a Q&A in Fortune magazine.
Working for the city of LA seems to have made a strong impression on Carson. He told Fortune cities don't have the luxury of throwing around a lot of talk on climate change; instead, he said, they have to act:
Mayor Villaraigosa was the genius behind this. He said I can get four or five of my mayoral colleagues and we're 100 million people. I love Montana, but instead of trying to get Montana, let's get a few like-minded mayors around the world on board to really take action. And then bring that action to scale with other similar cities. What worked in Moscow may not work in Los Angeles, but sometimes in surprising ways the policies are transferable.