Southern California environment news and trends

Zipcar doing well at UCLA (& better at USC): well enough for LA?

Car sharing got its first four-month check-in on Wednesday at the LA City Council's Transportation committee hearing. The news was pretty good – unless you’re a UCLA fan.

Zipcar's pilot project with the city is focused on USC and UCLA – where, a report from DOT chief Rita Robinson tells the city council, the company's got established bases.

Apparently demand for Zipcar services is bursting at the seams at USC. Each school got six cars to start, though there were some rough spots at the get-go. (Bueller? Anyone have a (horror) story?) Within a month the company asked for 4 more spaces so they could total 10 cars near USC.

Zipcar reported "utilization rates" to the council Wednesday. Not a lot of clarity on what that means, but from context I'm figuring it means how much the car's checked out. (I've got a call into Zipcar, of course.) Zipcar told the council that demand's supposed to grow 15-20% in the first six months and 30% in the first year at a new location At both pilot "pods," they're well past that – tripling what was expected in October at USC, and more than doubling it at UCLA.

Read More...

Curious about your DWP rates? They're offering answers.

From a DWP press release:

The LADWP will hold a community meeting regarding the current fiscal year budget, recently enacted budget cuts, and rates on Saturday, January 30, 2010, beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the LADWP John Ferraro Building in Downtown Los Angeles. The meeting will feature a presentation on the current fiscal year's budget, a discussion of the Department’s efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by increasing the use of renewable energy and a question and answer period with LADWP Interim General Manager S. David Freeman. It'll take place on the A-level - where the cafeteria is - of the DWP building on South Hope street.

ABC fans, you may recognize the building as the exterior of the FBI building in the TV show FlashForward. (Though they gave the LADWP logo a serious modernization.)

Read More...

Will the campaign to suspend AB32 gain heat?

AB 32 is shaping up to be a key part of the governor's race – and California politics – after The Governator leaves the building. We rarely say the number on the air. But it's the landmark law that requires the state to drop its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels within 10 years.

A movement's afoot to delay implementation of AB32 in deference to economic conditions. The California Jobs Initiative would stop it in its tracks until the state's unemployment dips-drops-ducks-dramatically to five and a half percent or so; we're over 12 percent now. A new assessment by the Legislative Analyst's office in Sacramento finds that delaying the implementation of the state's landmark global warming law would derail green tech investment – long term benefits for that industry - and provide short term benefits for some others.

Read More...

MWD warns So Cal about H2O

Wet lately, right? Yeah. Tell me about it. Maybe not enough though. The Metropolitan Water District doesn't want you to get cocky. An MWD press release reminds you that the district - which serves Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Compton, Fullerton, Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Torrance, not to mention Riverside and Orange County agencies - gets a decent amount of its water from the Delta. And the Delta water crisis ain't over.

According to the Met, 30 percent of its water supply comes from the Delta - and they're at a record low allocation for that, around 5 percent of the district's usual State Water Project allocation. The real "final answer" comes In April, when Metropolitan’s Board of Directors will decide the extent of mandatory conservation for the year, when much of the wet season is concluded and when the district has a better handle on available supplies for 2010. Until then - we're all just going to gut it out. Maybe do rain dances. Definitely throw some buckets back out in the yard.

Read More...

EJ back on the EPA radar in Region 9

The new EPA administrator in Region 9, Jared Blumenfeld, gave reporters a roundtable conference call today. The words "environmental justice" certainly appeared on the EPA's website before Obama got elected, but they didn't seem to hold the kind of sway Blumenfeld said he intends they will now.


Jared Blumenfeld, back in the SF days. Courtesy EPA.gov

Blumenfeld's brand new on the job. While working for the Department of the Environment in San Francisco, Blumenfeld helped create the city's solar mapping project, "to promote greater public awareness about solar potential in San Francisco and to facilitate greater solar usage among commercial and residential building owners." It'll be interesting to see how his aspirations translate into practice on this larger and more diverse playing field.

Read More...