Southern California environment news and trends

POLA re-ups with Gephardt group on F4A issues

It happened last week instead of one night, but...the Port of Los Angeles has, for the fourth time, renewed its relationship with a lobbying firm helping it out on Capitol Hill. In doing so it puts a very interesting problem in the lap of LA's new deputy mayor, Austin Beutner.

POLA is very very very interested in amending a law called the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. The act prohibits local authorities from regulating rates, routes and service. Specifically, they're interested in "clarifying and strengthening the rights of local public port authorities to enact essential environmental and security programs," as Philip Stanfield told the Daily Breeze.

The Gepbardt group has been:

working continuously on securing an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which currently prohibits state and local governments from regulating drayage truck rates, routes and services, with certain exceptions such as safety. The FAAAA has been interpreted by the courts as preempting certain essential elements of the Port’s CTP. The Port believes that its current program, as enacted, complies with current law and will continue making this case in court. While not guaranteeing any existing element of the CTP, staff believes that amending the FAAAA would strengthen the ability for any publicly-owned port to enact environmental and security programs on par with the extraordinary environmental and security challenges facing the Port.


Hikers to Half Dome will need paperwork next time

Comes word from the National Park Service that if you're above the subdome, you're going to need a permit for that, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when the cables are up - and they're only giving out 400 a day. I say "only" - that seems like plenty, and you'll still see crowds up there, I'm guessing. But it seems Yosemite - likely with the input of the climbing community - is looking to cut down on the Russian-bread-line aspect of Half Dome hiking. (You can see a line of hikers packed in on the cables here.

It's become a safety issue - cries for more safety grew louder last June when a young man fell to his death from the congested area. A genius outdoors writer from my hometown paper, Tom Stienstra, has an eyewitness account of the accident and smart discussion of the issues here.


VerdeXchange: Venue for City of LA Video

Last week I spent a little time at VerdeXchange. (Others spent more.) Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas spoke to LA's readiness for marketing sustainability in local issues. And LA's got a video selling that same idea, that they showed part of, that I've been looking to post, by way of explanation to VX delegates about where the city's at. I can't find the one I saw in the Marriott on line, but I did find one that's clearly related - it's got the same actors in it:

PINE from The Groop on Vimeo.

It was made by locals The Group. Who use the City of LA as a case study for its work, so their statement of the city's goals goes like this: "With the goal of simplifying the complexity of green we approached the problem by creating simple and easy to understand video segments that covered the different topics surrounding sustainability. The live action was shot in Los Angeles with the infographic animations being produced in Buenos Aires Argentina. The result is an education platform that delivers a complex message in a simple package."


Waiting for Godot and everything else in New Orleans

For Off-Ramp today, I was able to interview Paul Chan who served as artistic director for a production of Waiting For Godot in New Orleans back in 2007. It was one of my last cultural experiences in that city as a resident, and so it holds a special place in my heart.

I'll admit to some skepticism when some artists from someplace else came up with this idea - Bunk excluded, who came up in Pontchartrain Park. I was a carpetbagger. I knew that some carpetbaggers could be flaky. Heck, I was on my way out myself, against most odds and plenty of reason. But Godot won me over. The creative team knew plenty of people, talked to plenty of people. They served gumbo, and the night I went in Gentilly, my ladies The Pinettes, who are the self-proclaimed world's-only all-female brass band led us to the stage, and I got a whole big dose of everything I would soon find in short supply: crawfish, brass, neighbors, community in the streets at all times.


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.