Southern California environment news and trends

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


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.


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.”


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”:


Lies, damned lies, statistics, and the coast [UPDATED]

Over at LA Observed, Kevin Roderick points out that Jerry Brown is governor because he won the coast. (Official state results here, you can mouse over each county to get results.)


I looked at this and I was reminded of something we had talked about briefly at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute fellowship I did a few years back. And which we talk about all the time now in the context of the South Coast implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act. California's population is densest at the coast. Here's a map from the US Geological Survey, based on 2000 census numbers:

So, I'm guessing it makes sense that you have to win at the coast because that's where the people are.

It's not just California: according to a NOAA report released 5 years ago, 23 of the 25 most densely populated counties in the country were coastal. 53% of Americans lived (in 2003) at the coast - 153 million people, compared with 120 million Americans living at the coast in 1980. But California is really good at it: southern California counties made up 12 percent of that increase - 3.96 million people more moved to the Southland coast since 1980.