Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Los Angeles' first "Sustainable City Plan," promising to double down on a campaign promise to create 20,000 new green jobs by 2017.
The city appears to be a bit behind schedule on reaching the goal.
“Our most recent analysis shows that we’ve created 4,800 green jobs since 2013 in the energy efficiency, solar, and water infrastructure sectors,” said Matt Peterson, L.A.'s chief sustainability officer.
Peterson said the 4,800 figure likely undercounts the true number of green jobs created, because it doesn't include transit. No outside sources could validate the number, though Renae Steichen, the Clean Economy Practice Manager at Collaborative Economics, Inc., said as of last year, she counted about 32,000 green jobs in L.A. county. So, adding 15,200 jobs in two years would be a substantial addition.
Peterson said he is confident the city will reach the goal, citing scores of new construction jobs on local transit projects as well as new jobs generated by the drought - a silver lining if there ever was one.
For example, a company called Turf Terminators that replaces water-wasting green grass with desert landscaping has grown from three to 500 employees since last summer.
“Those people being employed to tear up turf, those are new green jobs,” said Peterson.
Peterson also points to the success of the L.A. Clean Tech Incubator, which was started during the Villaraigosa administration in 2011 to nurture environmentally friendly start-up companies in downtown Los Angeles. The incubator has attracted nearly $50 million in private investment in the last three years, according to the city's sustainability roadmap.
The roadmap calls for the city to maintain a brisk pace of adding green jobs. Under it, L.A. would add more of them than any other city in America by 2017, creating 72,500 green jobs by 2025 and 150,000 by 2035.
"The economic power of individual workers and the green business sector are key components of a sustainable city’s strength and vitality," the roadmap says. "Developing prosperity through green jobs can drive triple bottom-line returns that achieve economic success, improve equity, and strengthen the environment."
J.R. DeShazo, Director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, praised Garcetti's leadership on green jobs, but said ultimately he will need more buy-in from city agencies, like the Department of Water and Power.
"That’s where the rubber hits the road, and where we’ll actually see job creation happening, is when DWP is able to implement energy efficiency programs with greater participation and there’s more solar installation and things like that," said DeShazo. “That sort of implementation challenge is really where the city is at the moment.”