Southern California environment news and trends

'Castle' actors go car-free in L.A. for 7 days

Car-free must be the new hot L.A. thing, because every actor seems eager to hop on a bike or bus now. Last month, Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser made headlines with his car-free status. This month, it’s Stana Katic and Seamus Dever of ABC’s CASTLE big upping the eco-friendly, car-free lifestyle. The two actors went car-free for 7 days over a month — and created a video-series as part of Sierra Club’s Alternative Travel Project!

Each day this week, a new video about Stana and Seamus’ car-free adventures is going up on Alternative Travel Project’s website. And each video focuses on a new mode of transportation — be it the bike, the bus, or the subway.

So far, the short videos are more inspirational and aspirational than practical. We see Stana and Seamus energetically bicycling down wide and sunny streets that are strangely devoid of cars, but not any information on how newbie bicyclists can start navigating the sometimes scary urban roads. Still, the happy videos are a start.


Morning greens: Costlier community gardens, solar-powered trash bins, and snow-poor Tahoe

plasticbagintree Morning greens:In case you missed the news yesterday, L.A. County passed a plastic bag ban! NPR, LA Times, and SM Mirror have more. But environmental group Heal the Bay’s president Mark Gold warns: “Despite the county’s caution, count on the plastic polluters to sue.”

L.A. may raise community garden fees 500 percent, from $25 to $120 annually per plot. Can’t afford $120 — or feel $120 better reflects the value of the plots? LAist has details on how you can weigh in on the issue.

Pasadena’s got 40 new solar-powered trash bins. Curbed LA explains how they work.

Schwarzenegger launched a new climate-change group “with leaders from regional governments in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and the United States,” reports LA Times. KQED’s Climate Watch notes “R20, or ‘Regions of Climate Action’ is the culmination of Governor Schwarzenegger’s efforts to spur ‘subnational’ action to address climate change.”

Prepare for a less snowy Tahoe Basin. According to UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, “The average snowpack in the Tahoe Basin could decline 40 to 60% by 2100 and some years could see all rain and no snow,” reports KQED’s Climate Watch.

The EPA advised coastal states to start measuring ocean acidification. The request comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, according to Ecotrope.

A Republican-controlled House means very bad news for the environment, opines Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker. “Not content merely to ignore the science, [House Republicans] have decided to go after the scientists.”

Lastly and funnily: Why create high-speed bullet trains when we can create low-cost high-speed buses? The Onion “reports” that “President Obama’s proposed high-speed train system will be replaced with a fleet of buses that will rocket along highways at speeds up to 165 mph.” (via Streetsblog LA)

Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan


Photo by Kate Ter Harr/Flickr


L.A. County bans plastic bags

plasticbagintree L.A. County bans plastic bags

It’s official! The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to ban plastic bags this morning.

“We spend $18 Million a year to clean up and prevent litter in Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in today’s press release about the Board’s decision. “This bold measure is an economically and environmentally sustainable alternative to such a wasteful habit.”

Neighborhoods in Los Angeles County unincorporated areas will no longer get single-use plastic bags (except those thinner produce bags) at supermarkets and large retail pharmacies come July 1, 2011, and at liquor stores and food marts by January 1, 2012. Paper bags, so long as they’re made with 40% post-consumer recycled waste and 100% recyclable, will be available — for 10 cents each, with the money collected going to pay for the cost of the bags themselves, as well as the cost of complying with the ban and of educating customers about reusable bag use.


Green picks: Great L.A. Walk, 350 Earth, green biz tips, and more

Where to go, what to do, how to green. Our event picks for the coming week:

greatlawalk events

Tue., 11/16: Get “Tools & Tips for Building a Sustainable Business” at Sustainable Business Council Los Angeles’ next event. A panel of experts will discuss everything from SBA loans to social media strategies while attendees mingle and nibble on snacks and organic drinks. The event happens at Valcucine, 9030 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, from 7 pm to 10 pm. Cost: $25 advance tickets.

Wed., 11/17: Organized by Move LA and the Los Angeles Business Council, the annual Mayoral Sustainable Housing and Transportation Summit will focus on building sustainable communities this year. The daylong event happens at Korn Hall, UCLA Anderson School of Business, Los Angeles from 7:30 am – 2 pm. General admission tickets cost $250 each.


Morning greens: Toll lanes, condor trouble, and Schwarzenegger's climate summit

schwarzeneggerSchwarzenegger is at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Davis, “where representatives from more than 80 regional and local governments have come together for two days to try to figure out ways to reduce emissions and put the brakes on climate change,” according to Gretchen Weber of KQED’s Climate Watch.

L.A. could get more freeway toll lanes to reduce congestion in a plan that includes more clean energy buses, reports LA Times. “A preliminary study by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has recommended that five locations be explored in detail for the installation of high-occupancy toll lanes or so-called HOT lanes.”

What now for the West Hollywood Transit Corridor? Since the Metro Board’s decided to go with Westside Subway Extension plans that don’t include a “pink line” down Santa Monica Blvd., Dan Wentzel examines the possibilities for a “Hollywood-WestHollywood-SanVicente-Crenshaw-LAX-SouthBay-LongBeach light rail line” in Streetsblog LA.

New hurdle for California Condors may be DDT from years ago, reports NY Times.

In national news: At least one green energy measure will see congressional action this week, reports Greenwire.

However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to announce an agenda that attacks federal energy regulations this week, reports LA Times. And a climate change skeptic seeks to be the next House Energy and Commerce committee chairman, reports NY Times’ Green.

Lastly and frugally: Can tourists visit L.A. for $100 a day? Yes, says a NY Times writer who got to know L.A. by bicycle. “Seven days and six nights without a car turned out to be not only possible but in many ways afforded me a more unfiltered view of Los Angeles than I would have gotten behind the wheel, taking highways rather than local roads and further buffered from my surroundings by a windshield and a loud radio.”

Photo: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)