Southern California environment news and trends

At REThink:Green - looking for a greener lifestyle

I've been working on a story about rooftop solar power in the last few days - so I was interested in talking to folks in the industry about how well that works in California. One person I interviewed was Sungetivity's Danny Kennedy - who I met Saturday night at the Rethink:Green event at the Blackwelder complex in Culver City. Sungetivity's one of several companies that sell or lease solar panels to homes with a financial mechanism that puts little of the upfront cost on homeowners (I've also talked to Solar City about stuff they're doing, among others).

The event seemed to serve several purposes. It honored 11 people: Heal the Bay's Mark Gold; Surfrider's Jim Moriarity; Anna Cummins, Marcus Eriksen, and Captain Charles Moore of Algalita Marine Research/5 Gyres (who study plastic debris in the ocean); La Loma development's Marco Barrantes; Global Green's Matt Petersen; Dale Bell and Harry Wiland, of the Media & Policy Center; Andy Meyers, president of Shangri-La Construction; and director Davis Guggenheim.

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City of Malibu to update septic tank talks

Monday night in the 'Bu: Malibu's city council will get an update on the status of a septic system ban in the Civic Center Area - the one approved earlier this year by the State Water Resources Control Board. Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen and Water Board executive officer Sam Unger are supposed to be talking about ways to implement the ban. They're supposed to be doing that in part so that Malibu doesn't sue over the ban.

Malibu’s reliance on septic tanks originally had a purpose: city leaders reasoned that they’d help limit growth and keep the precious open space that give the coastal community its beauty. But as surfers at Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach have attested, that decision exacted a cost on the environment in the form of chronic pollution linked to human waste.

Photo of paddle-out courtesy Surfrider

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TraPac expansion brings $16 million (so far) to port communities

You might remember an expansion at the Port of Los Angeles from 3 years ago at the TraPac area - if for no other reason that it was featured prominently in America's Port, a reality show on National Geographic:

Betting on the approval of Dr. Geraldine Knatzs plan to grow and green the port, TraPacs VP Frank Pisano gambled $15M by ordering two new cranes. TraPacs future hangs in the balance pending the vote of the Harbor Board of Commissions. Captain Michael Rubino guides the late MOL Endowment through a tight turn to avoid another ship. Challenged to fix a broken hatch seal and get the freighter back on schedule, TraPac calls in their ace crane operator Bo Stipicevich. In the marina, Det. Mike Belo investigates the suspected rape of a 21-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child by a 53-year-old man. Habitat for Humanitys press conference with President Jimmy Carter gets delayed when Port Police discover a suspicious object during an underwater dive sweep around the pier.

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Morning greens: Trouble at farmers markets, trash-free Santa Monica Bay, bike-friendlier Beverly Hills

samobeach Morning greens

In eight years, no trash will go in the Santa Monica Bay, if Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board’s new marine debris limits are obeyed. Heal the Bay’s Mark Gold says the Board’s Thursday vote approved tough new limits that “give Santa Monica Bay watershed cities, Los Angeles County and land management agencies like State Parks, eight years to reduce the amount of trash going into the Bay to zero.” Until then, Everyday Hero Sara Bayles has her work cut out for her.

A SoCal farmers market operator is accused of covering up non-local produce sales. An employee of Raw Inspirations, a nonprofit that helps run 18 farmers markets, says she was retaliated against after reporting a vendor who repackaged Mexican produce as locally-grown, reports LA Times.

Beverly Hills created an ad hoc bicycle committee, according to local pro-bike community group Better Bike Beverly Hills. “As an ad hoc committee under state law, the committee meetings need not be announced, nor open to the public.”

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Legal experts disagree on Prop 26's effect on AB 32

Will Prop 26 make it difficult to enforce regulations under AB 32? That’s been the fear of many environmentalists since the initiative passed on Tuesday. After all, AB 32 — California’s landmark global warming law — will require tough new regulations to enforce, while Prop 26 — a successful initiative that will requires a two-thirds majority to impose fees that address “health, environmental, or other societal or economic concerns” — makes passing new regulations tough, to say the least.

But according to environmental nonprofit National Resources Defense Council’s Western Energy and Climate Projects legal director Kristin Eberhard, the answer is no. In a post boldly titled “Proposition 26 will not stop AB 32” on NRDC’s Switchboard blog, Kristin explains why AB 32 will be affected by Prop 26 “not at all”:

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