Los Angeles is abuzz with excitement for Sunday’s CicLAvia — a one-day event that already has everyone from environmentalists to park-space advocates hoping for more frequent — or even permanent — CicLAvia-type events in the future. If you’re having a tough time imagining what L.A.’s streets would look like sans cars, here’s a short video that’ll spark your imagination!
See how a street in Queens, New York got transformed into a temporary urban park of sorts when cars were turned away to make room for people to play. The StreetsFilms video shows how the weekly pop up park got so popular that it became a daily park, open 24-7 to kids and community members to play, bike, and laze in during July and August. (via Treehugger)
Think we could have something similar in Los Angeles? As many KPCC fans know, L.A.’s an especially park-poor city. According to The Trust for Public Land’s report City Park Facts 2010, Los Angeles devotes a meager 7.9 percent of its city area to park space — far lower than the 10.2 percent average for high density cities. Calculated by population, L.A. dedicates 6.2 acres of parkland per 1000 residents — again, lower than the 6.9 percent average for high density cities.
The Antelope Valley Union High School District’s getting a gigantic solar power installation — the largest school installation to date in California, according to the Los Angeles-based contractor PsomasFMG behind the project.
California’s “off-road” diesel regulation laws will be weakened, if the changes California Air Resources Board proposed yesterday are adopted. Why? SF Chronicle reports that according to the Air Board, the pollution estimates used to set the original laws were overestimated by 340 percent. (via Climate Watch)
In national news: Honda’s the greenest automaker, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Reports the L.A. Times: “The nonprofit scientists group ranked the automakers based on average per-mile smog pollution and global-warming emissions of the entire fleet of vehicles sold.”
As a former frequent kayaker of the San Francisco Bay, I was surprised to read that maybe agriculture from the Delta isn't primarily to blame for elevated levels of mercury and other pollutants in those waters. But as someone who's been paying attention to low impact development efforts in southern California lately, the fact that a decade's worth of data points to urban runoff as a culprit as large or larger than ag made me nod my head.
I'm talking about work from the San Francisco Estuary Institute: SFEI released its Pulse of the Estuary report a few days ago. It shows the depth of knowledge for the SF bay's runoff problem has grown in nearly-staggering fashion.
Ten years ago scientists thought about a quarter of pollution in the bay came from sediments and urban runoff. Now they believe that it's double that - more than 50 percent. Correspondingly, farms now are getting blamed for far less of the pollution in the bay - even though the Central Valley itself is an enormous watershed, and almost all the freshwater coming into the bay comes from there.
Want to walk the environmentalist’s walk — but don’t know how? If you live on the westside — or are willing to take long weekly rides on the bus or bike — sign up to take a Green Living Workshop with Santa Monica’s environmental nonprofit Sustainable Works. The 6-week crash course offers eco-education, green camaraderie, and free money-saving gadgets — all at no cost to you.
The Green Living Workshop brings together a few dozen would-be environmentalists into one room in Santa Monica once a week for six weeks, tackling a topic like “water” or “transportation” at each meeting. Workshop participants are then encouraged to apply what they’ve learned in the room out in the real world — armed with a free WorksBook with up-to-date environmental information and free eco-gadgets like low flow showerheads, CFL bulbs, and even worms for the compost bin. And the dedicated environmentalists who finish the 6-week course with perfect attendance even get a gift bag at the end filled with yet more green goodies.
Already sent in your mail-in ballot? Then I guess you’ve already made your voting decisions. But for the rest of us, Molly and I will be looking at how your votes in November will affect environmental issues in California and beyond. To that end, I’m going to start by writing about by far the most talked-about proposition: Prop 23.
In case you don’t quite know what Prop 23 is yet and have been twitching nervously whenever someone mentions the ballot measure, here’s a quick explanation to help you participate in conversations at CicLAvia and 10/10/10 events this weekend. Prop 23 would suspend the landmark California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) — the Act that committed the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — until the unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent or below for a full year.