Southern California environment news and trends

Building a green LA for everyone

When I lived in San Francisco I played softball in an architects, builders and contractors league. For a bunch of architects we were pretty good. The experience definitely demystified architects for me - they drank beer and wanted to win just like builders do - but maybe not architecture itself, a topic that few cover well, and not on public radio.

So it's with trepidation and fascination I approached these issues of green building.

Katie Swenson, one of the people I talked to for the story that aired today, actually directs the Rose Fellowship - she used to be a fellow herself. Her work was in Charlottesville. She wrote a book - Growing Urban Habitats - that describes the Urban Habitats 2005 competition, where Charlottesville designers sought plans for multifamily housing that prevent gentrification. The design - or re-design - target is housing court in the Hogwaller-Belmont part of Charlottesville.


Luchador fighting for the ocean

Wearing a silver mask and a neat grey suit - his tie dotted with tiny luchador heads - El Hijo del Santo stepped forward to the microphone. He's a star of Mexican Lucha Libre, a second generation wrestler: famous to fans of the sport, celebrated in Mexico, and met with some bewildered glances from older, mostly white folks at the California Science Center.

Tomorrow at the second day of the MLPA meeting in Long Beach, El Hijo del Santo will be with Wildcoast - one of the two representatives of Latino communities in the South Coast's stakeholder group. Wildcoast's Fey Crevoshay says the group is a fan of Map 3 - one of a total of three proposed maps stakeholders are considering as part of the MLPA process in southern California.

If you want to meet a real luchador, celebrated for his headscissors takedown, his suicide dive, and his ocean activism: the place to do it is at the Hilton in Long Beach on Wednesday morning.


If a Port settles a lawsuit, does it make a sound?

The Port of Long Beach has settled its year-long dispute with the American Trucking Association. The Journal of Commerce has the story, but it's pretty quiet out there.

I'm working to talk to Long Beach now, but this obviously heightens the strategic differences between the coalition of union and environmental interests working with the Port of Los Angeles and the more business-friendly Port of Long Beach. Long Beach seems to have essentially chucked the idea of concession agreements for trucking companies - through which both ports once hoped to tether industry to cleaner trucking practices and through which the city of Los Angeles planned to create better working conditions for contract drivers.

It also raises questions about which strategy is going to clean up port air fastest. Long Beach says it's got 5000 2007-model and newer trucks registered, half of what's serving the goods movement industry there right now. Long Beach's Art Wong expects that number will go up to 6-7 thousand by year's end, and with port traffic down, he says that'll be "the vast majority, maybe 95% of what's serving the port."


Seafood Watch turns 10

Most likely you've seen the cards: ubiquitous at Whole Foods; sometimes tucked into your check at a restaurant. Ten years ago, the Monterey Bay Aquarium started Seafood Watch program to tell people in simple and consistent terms which fish need conserving most.

This morning the Monterey Bay Aquarium's releasing a report describing the "State of Seafood" - uh, what do you think? - fisheries are mismanaged and aquaculture's booming.

They're also making a new list of fish that are good for people to eat, and good for the oceans - by which they mean, doesn't harm the oceans.

Fish on the green part of the list have low levels of contaminants, like PCBs and mercury, and have a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids, AND make the Seafood Watch "best choice" list. Farmed trout, farmed mussels and oysters, wild-caught Oregon pink shrimp, mmmm Sardines!, wild Alaska salmon, Albacore Tuna that's pole or troll-caught (no, not caught by the troll under the bridge; trolling is a fishing method that's less destructive to the ocean than longlining, which you may remember from "The Perfect Storm" or any number of reality shows that use dramatic music, jump cuts, and fancy editing to up the EXCITEMENT quotient for fishing).