Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes
■Bakersfield Californian - March 13
In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time. The study combines sea level rise and storms for the first time, as well as wave action, cliff erosion, beach loss, and other coastal threats across California. More than half a million Californians and $150 billion in property are at risk of flooding along the coast by 2100 — equivalent to 6 percent of the state’s GDP, and on par with Hurricane Katrina and some of the world’s costliest disasters.
Governor Newsom’s proposal tying housing to gas tax penalty wouldn’t take effect until 2023
■San Francisco Chronicle - March 11
Governor Gavin Newsom’s controversial proposal to penalize cities and counties that don’t plan enough housing by withholding funding from California’s recent gas tax increase wouldn’t take effect until July 2023 under legislation he unveiled Monday. Newsom wants to let state officials spend the next four years revising their process for setting regional housing goals and then tie those new targets to the gas tax funding. If the Legislature agrees, the policy would set up a process for withholding money for road repairs and public transit from communities that fall short of their state mandates for planning and permitting housing projects.
Oceanside to get climate action plan
■San Diego Union-Tribune - March 8
Oceanside’s first-ever climate action plan will go to the city’s Planning Commission for an initial review Monday. A recent requirement of the state, the plan helps guide local efforts to reduce waste, conserve energy, and produce less of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Strategies outlined in the document include promoting the use of electrical vehicles, increasing local water supplies, and using more renewable energy. It also suggests “smart growth” policies that encourage the concentration of development in areas with easy access to public transportation, jobs, shopping, and recreational opportunities.
Ventura County residents speak out against wildlife corridor
■Courthouse News Service - March 12
A proposed wildlife corridor in Southern California would give mountain lions and other animals added protection against urban sprawl near Los Angeles County, but some landowners say the new set of laws is a land grab and overreach by local government and environmental advocates. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors weighed the new ordinance during a day-long public meeting on Tuesday. County officials continued the item to another meeting later in the month after commentary ran into the night. The wildlife corridor in Ventura County spreads over 400,000 acres and includes more than 150,000 acres of private land.
L.A. backs Venice Boulevard’s controversial ‘road diet’ as activists threaten to sue
■Los Angeles Times - March 8
Setting the stage for a legal challenge, the Los Angeles City Council rejected an appeal Friday from neighborhood advocates fighting a bicycle lane on a congested Westside artery. The council’s unanimous decision follows 18 months of furor over a “road diet,” part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative, which reduced the number of traffic lanes along a 0.8-mile stretch of Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista to make space for a protected bicycle lane. In December, the city moved to extend the road diet beyond its pilot program and exempted it from environmental review. Mar Vista activists appealed in January, saying the road diet’s effect on traffic and other issues merited a full analysis and public hearing.
Long Beach City College recognized for sustainability efforts
■Press-Telegram - March 11
The California Community Colleges board of governors has recognized Long Beach City College (LBCC) for its work to improve sustainability. The college was named a recipient of the annual Excellence in Energy and Sustainability Awards for 2018, and Vice President of Business Services Marlene Drinkwine was also recognized, LBCC announced March 4. The awards honor campuses with energy projects that demonstrate saving costs, environmental sustainability, and job creation. Drinkwine was part of drafting an Integrated Energy Master Plan for LBCC as part of the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.
27-story Chinatown tower in Los Angeles exempt from environmental review
■Curbed - March 11
A 27-story tower planned for Broadway in Chinatown is now the second development in Los Angeles that will be allowed to bypass the state’s lengthy and detailed environmental review process. The Los Angeles City Council voted last month to exempt the retail and office project, called Harmony, from the rigorous analysis typically demanded of large-scale development projects under the California Environmental Quality Act. The council determined that Harmony meets the standards of a program, established in 2011, for so-called Sustainable Communities Projects. To qualify, developments have to be smaller than 8 acres, be located within a half-mile of a transit stop, and include some affordable units (or pay a fee to the city to build affordable housing off-site).