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Sustainable Development Update
January 25, 2019
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Sustainable Development Focus

L.A. may charge drivers by the mile, adding freeway tolls to cut congestion

LOS ANGELES TIMES - Jan 22 The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is pushing to study how what’s commonly referred to as congestion pricing could work in Los Angeles, including converting carpool lanes to toll lanes, taxing drivers based on the number of miles they travel, or charging a fee to enter certain neighborhoods and business districts. Imposing more tolls would offer a smoother drive for those who choose to pay. Getting more drivers off the road could free up space to speed up bus service, while the billions of dollars in revenue could fund a vast expansion of the transit network, Metro said. But a shift away from mostly free driving in Southern California, where three in four commuters drive alone to work, would require courageous politicians who are willing to champion the policy, explain it to outraged motorists, and stand by it if the implementation gets rocky, experts say. Next month, Metro’s board of directors will be asked to approve a study and assemble a panel of experts to examine how congestion pricing would work.


Building a Bay Area granny flat still challenging

THE MERCURY NEWS - Jan 17 Recent California reforms designed to make it easier to build granny flats — one fix to ease the housing crisis — have not gone far enough to overcome local bureaucracy and neighborhood opposition, housing advocates say. “When you’re in a crisis, you have to do something,” said State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, author of the original ADU law, which cut construction costs by lowering water and sewer hookup fees. “The bottom line is, we’re still in a crisis.” Wieckowski said he plans to re-introduce legislation to simplify the process and further reduce local fees and restrictions. A reform measure last year failed to pass. Housing advocates and developers are also actively pushing cities to ease burdens on homeowners looking to add an ADU to their property. The pro-housing group California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund in December sued San Francisco over zoning restrictions placed on new ADUs. The group is hoping to nudge San Francisco and other cities to clean up local regulations and encourage construction of more auxiliary units to ease the housing shortage.

Berkeley approves two affordable housing projects in record time under new state law, SB 35

BERKELEYSIDE - Jan 17 Berkeley, a city known for its molasses-like approval of multi-unit developments, signed off on two affordable housing projects in December, including one that will be its largest-ever permanent housing project for homeless and low-income residents. The city notified Bridge Housing and its partner, Berkeley Food & Housing Project that their application for the $110 million Berkeley Way project was approved under state law SB 35, which streamlines the development process and requires no additional hearings. The application was submitted in late October, and the city approved the project in less than 60 days.

Report finds wide racial and ethnic disparities in rooftop solar installations

GREENTECH MEDIA - Jan 14 A report recently published in the journal Nature Sustainability outlines large racial and ethnic disparities in installations of rooftop solar. Researchers with Tufts University and the University of California, Berkeley found that census tracts that are over 50 percent black or Hispanic have “significantly less” rooftop solar installations than census tracts with no majority or that are majority white — pointing to the equity implications of an unevenly developing solar industry. According to the results, in census tracts with the same median household income, communities with over 50 percent black residents have 69 percent less rooftop solar installed than tracts with no racial or ethnic majority. Majority Hispanic census tracts had 30 percent less installed. Majority Asian census tracts had on average 2 percent less solar installed than non-majority tracts.

Kaiser Permanente tackles housing-as-healthcare issue with first affordable housing purchase

BISNOW - Jan 17 Citing the connection between housing security and healthcare outcomes, Kaiser Permanente plans to purchase an Oakland building to provide affordable housing. The company, which has its national headquarters in Oakland, announced this week that it was launching several initiatives to address housing, including the purchase of the 41-unit Kensington Gardens Apartments in East Oakland for $5.2 million. The healthcare giant also plans to create a $100 million national loan fund for affordable housing and to end homelessness for more than 500 Oakland-area residents.

Measure W will fund projects to recycle rainwater from L.A. River

ABC7 - Jan 18 With four straight days of rain, the Los Angeles River has come alive. Thanks to Measure W, which was passed by voters last November, projects will be funded and infrastructure will be built to capture, treat, and recycle all this rain water. Some water reclamation projects like Marsh Park in Elysian Heights are already in use, increasing water supply, addressing climate change, and cleaning urban runoff. This open space manages storm water, functioning like a sponge as the water is slowly absorbed by the soil. Measure W is predicted to raise $300 million per year for L.A. County off a new property tax for what is called impermeable areas. That would be the driveway of your house, concrete patio, or anything that stops water from going into the ground. The tax is 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable space and takes effect July 1.

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Chine Jeffrey A Jeffrey A. Chine
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Renée Louise Robin Renée Louise Robin
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