Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Bicycles, birds, and parking in L.A.

epalabel Remember UCLA professor Donald Shoup, who took the Cato Institute to task for its non-free-market-based parking policies? The “prophet of parking” gets a feature in the LA Times today: “According to Shoup, free parking is at the root of many urban ills: congestion, sprawl, wasteful energy use and air pollution.”

You may spend less to park at LAX soon: A train to connect the Crenshaw district to LAX will be built within the next six years, thanks to a $546 million federal loan, reports KPCC. The loan is the first funding L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative, which seeks federal loans to speed up a dozen Metro projects.

Bike parking’s also usually free — but electric bicycles aren’t flying off the shelves in Southern California, though they do seem to be slowly pedaling on, reports the LA Times.

Missed the Roots of Change Network Summit, organized earlier this month to address food and agriculture in California? Experience LA has a summary of the proceedings.

Santa Cruz Island’s island scrub jays are getting vaccinated against the West Nile virus,” reports LA Times.

In national news: Take a look at the new proposed vehicle fuel economy labels for 2012 model year. LA Times reports the new designs are controversial — especially the one with “a prominent letter grade ranging from A-plus to D that takes up nearly half the label and reflects the vehicle’s fuel economy and tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions” (right). Send in your two cents on the designs to the EPA.

An EPA regulator wants to block mountaintop removal mining projects in West Virginia citing potentially disastrous environmental consequences. “In 2007, the Bush administration approved the project, which would involve dynamiting the tops off mountains over 2,278 acres to get at the coal beneath while dumping the resulting rubble, known as spoil, into nearby valleys and streams,” reports NY Times.

Lastly and hotly: Don’t let the cold rains fool you. “2010 is on pace to tie 1998 as the warmest year in the historical record” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports NY Times’ Green.


Court Orders Eucalyptus Sawed Down in Larkspur

When I was a kid, I thought eucalyptus trees were native to California. (I can admit this now because I have thought so many dumber things over the years.) Each year, I ran the Bay to Breakers, turned into the park, and enjoyed their smell immensely before the sea-salt-spray smacked me in the face at the final turn onto the Great Highway.

Yes, now I know they're not native. But I retain a soft spot for the groves of them in Golden Gate Park. Which is why I noted with interest a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about a dispute over eucalyptus trees in the Bay Area.

I can empathize with Anne Wolff. She's a clinical psychologist who bought a piece of property in Larkspur in part because she loved a grove of eucalyptus globulus - decribed by the Chron as "notoriously flammable."

The flammable part caught her neighbors' attention.


Palin takes on the Delta Smelt

Noted, but not with much comment: Sarah Palin, appearing in Anaheim at an event Frank Stoltze attended and will cover for KPCC.

Ms. Palin made one brief mention of Senator Barbara Boxer, the woman Ms. Fiorina is trying to defeat, belittling her for voting to support water restrictions in the agriculturally rich Central Valley to protect an endangered species, the delta smelt.

“How about the priorities of Barbara Boxer?” Ms. Palin said. “She’d rather protect that two-inch fish than the water supply. You call it a two-inch fish. Where I come from, we call that bait.”

Shades of Richard Pombo, but Sarah Palin comes by her hostility to the Endangered Species Act honestly and separately: she didn't much like the polar bear being up for protection - in her state - either. So much so that she misrepresented the conclusions of Alaska's own scientists, and dismissed US Geological Survey studies that concluded the polar bear was threatened by global warming.


Rewind Grand Opening & the idea of public space

So Friday night I stopped by Rewind to see how their grand opening was going. Took some pictures: check 'em out below.

The party spread along Alvarado, folding metal chairs lined up, the spice-steam of tacos rising and spreading through the air. Families. Hipsters. Echo Park.

Los Angeles, for the first time in a long time, reminded me of New Orleans - where I kept a folding chair near my front door so I could sit on my stoop and toast the cross-the-street neighbors (nicer houses, with porches) - sipping a cocktail in the evenings. It's my error, not the city's: all kinds of people know how to inhabit the public space in this town. They just don't usually get credit for it.

Public space, of course, is our environment: our urban environment. And maybe that's where I get interested in covering the subject. We make decisions about the space we share every day, consciously and not. Offering home-cooked fresh food to someone who comes to your grand opening off the street says something about how you feel about your neighborhood, your environment. In a city, you can't escape the fact that we're negotiating with nature, and with each other, for our futures.


Eco-foodie musts: Artisanal LA and HomeGrown Culver City

Next weekend will be a busy one for locavoring foodies and Slow Food advocates — because we’ve got two big local food events happening in the L.A. area: Artisanal LA and Homegrown Culver City.

 artisanalFirst, Artisanal LA. Here’s an event that’ll let you taste all the eco-edibles from local chocolatiers, confectioners, bakeries, restaurants, and breweries. The impressively long list of participating vendors includes both well-known local favorites to small newbie companies operating out of home kitchens.

Go for Compartes Chocolatier’s truffles, crafted using seasonal organic ingredients — or Homegirl Cafe’s Latin-flavored dishes made with fresh, cafe-grown produce — or Eagle Rock Brewery’s locally-made beer. Or be adventurous and try out artisan delights from foodies without storefronts. I’m especially eager to try Marcie’s Pies, made with farm fresh fruit from “beyond organic” Jimenez Family Farm in Santa Ynez valley.

The weekend-long event also has a full schedule of workshops, speakers, and demos. For the leafier nibblers, Chef Jonathan Rollo of my favorite salad spot, Greenleaf Chop Shop, will demo using local and seasonal produce; carnivores can learn about heritage meats and home butchering from Lindy & Grundy. Plus, there will be workshops on everything from herb gardening to hand-sewing egg cozies to pairing biodynamic wines with food.

Plus, eco-foodies will get to enjoy music from DJ Bryan Davidson, pick up free seedlings from Pitchfork’s Mud Baron, and receive free gift bags if they’re one of the first 1000 to arrive — all with the happy knowledge that some of the proceeds of the event will benefit LAUSD Edible School Gardens.

Artisanal LA happens Sat., Oct. 23 and Sun., Oct. 24 in the 11th floor penthouse of The Cooper Building, 860 S. Los Angeles St., downtown Los Angeles. Get your ticket in advance for $10 ($15 at the door)

 artisanalCan’t afford the $10? Then head over to HomeGrown Culver City — a free celebration of “food, sustainable gardening and an ecological lifestyle,” according to the event website. This event’s one that keeps giving — because you’ll be able to learn at HomeGrown Culver City how to grow and make your own food too.

After all, the intent of the event is to get more people gardening. Lots of hands-on workshops, from gardening on raised beds to making jam to composting with worms, will help you dig into the homegrown movement. The event also promises kid-friendly entertainment and local food vendors serving dishes made with local ingredients.

The event’s free, but attendees are encouraged to bring canned or packaged healthy food and new children’s winter clothes to Beyond Shelter, a nonprofit that helps homeless families with children find permanent housing. HomeGrown Culver City happens Sat., Oct. 23 from 9 am to 5 pm in Media Park, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City.

Both Artisanal LA and HomeGrown Culver City are first-time events — that hope to become annual events. Which one will you go to?

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Images: Artisanal LA and HomeGrown Culver City