When roads heat up during the summer, the asphalt poisons urban air
Fast Company – September 8
In the summer, dark asphalt roads and roofs absorb heat from the sun and then put it back into the air, which is called the urban heat island effect. But that asphalt is also releasing harmful air pollutants. Previous studies focused on the Los Angeles area found that a substantial portion of semivolatile organic compounds in the air wasn’t coming from vehicles, but experts didn’t know what was causing them. Yale researchers wanted to look at asphalt as the possible source. In a study published in Science Advances, they found that common road and roofing asphalts emit secondary organic aerosols, which are a big component of PM2.5 pollution, particulate matter that measures 2.5 micrometers or less and that has been linked to asthma and other health effects.
The University of California is taking the lead on phasing out single-use plastics
KPBS – September 8
A measure proposing to reduce single-use plastics failed to pass the California Legislature this year, but the University of California has committed to phasing out these materials on its 10 campuses in the next ten years. Each year, 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally and about 50 percent of that is used once and then thrown away. More than 90 percent of plastic is not recycled but goes into landfills or pollutes waterways. Under UC’s plan, single-use knives, forks, and straws will be phased out on campuses by July 2021, plates, cups, and clam-shell containers will be phased out by July 2022, and single-use plastic beverage bottles by January 2023.
Manhattan Beach to appeal court ruling on short-term rental ban
Daily Breeze – September 10
Manhattan Beach could be in litigation for another year regarding its unauthorized ban on short-term rentals in the coastal zone. The City Council last week voted unanimously to appeal a decision from Los Angeles Superior Court that ordered the city to stop enforcing a ban on short-term rentals in Manhattan Beach’s coastal zone, escalating the case to state level. The court formalized the judgment on August 25, in which it made official its June ruling that the city must cease the prohibition until it submits and gets approval through the California Coastal Commission.
With Baylands under flood threat, Palo Alto explores projects to address sea level rise
Palo Alto Online – September 7
If current predictions hold, the entire Palo Alto Baylands could be submerged by the middle of the century because of sea level rise. To prepare for rising tides, Palo Alto is moving ahead with the creation of a new Sea Level Adaptation Plan, a document that will consider upgrades to vulnerable infrastructure, a risk assessment of all structures near flood-prone areas, and strategies that new developments would have to adopt as they adapt to a wetter reality. It is also pushing forward with plans on a levee project that would use treated wastewater from the nearby treatment plant to support a newly created nature habitat in the transition zone between the tidal area and the terrestrial uplands area.
New plan aims to turn Sunnyvale into bicycle, pedestrian haven
The Mercury News – September 6
In the next 10 years, Sunnyvale expects to have more bicycle lanes, better sidewalks, and safer routes for children to get to school. At least, that’s the plan as unanimously approved late last month by the Sunnyvale City Council. The city spent more than a year updating its active transportation plan after it received a $338,000 sustainable communities grant from Caltrans and pitched in some of its own money. The plan aims to get 10% of commuters and residents in Sunnyvale out of their cars and pedaling or walking for daily tasks, including work, by 2030, up from the 1.5% of commuters who do that now.
Uber pledges zero emissions platform by 2040
Utility Dive – September 8
Uber this Tuesday announced a commitment to becoming a zero emissions mobility platform across its 10,000 cities and six continents by 2040. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi detailed four key actions the company will take to meet this goal: expanding Uber Green to incentivize riders in choosing zero-emission vehicles; committing $800 million to help drivers transition to electric vehicles by 2025; increasing investments in micromobility and public transit solutions; and increasing public transparency, starting with the launch of its first-ever Climate Assessment and Performance Report.