Thursday, 27 June 2013

UCLA Seniors Present Carbon Neutral Plan to Hermosa Beach City Council

Team members Dana Trans and Lauren Dickinson present to the Hermosa Beach City Council

While most UCLA students were taking in-class final exams, a team of seven seniors in UCLA’s Environmental Science program had one final presentation - to the Hermosa Beach City Council. 

In 2011, Hermosa Beach set a goal to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s operations in order to put the city on a path to becoming a carbon neutral community.  The City asked UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability for help with this long-term goal. The UCLA Environmental Science team spent their senior years researching two main questions:
1.    What does carbon neutrality mean for Hermosa Beach? 
2.    What would a carbon neutral Hermosa Beach look like? 

UCLA students looked at a range of future implementation measures like
     building energy retrofits
     a community electricity program to encourage solar and wind on buildings
     vast reductions in vehicle miles traveled
     increases in electric vehicles, walking, and biking. 

The team also looked at options to reduce the amount of water imported into Hermosa Beach and to reduce emissions from the waste the community sends to landfills. 

By developing a community emissions model, the team was able to estimate how various policy scenarios would affect the Hermosa Beach’s future greenhouse gas emissions.  They found that the combination of existing state-level policies, like those to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and increase renewable energy, coupled with local policies in the city’s current Sustainability Plan, would reduce 2050 emissions by about 56%.  More aggressive policy options would be required to reach the state’s goal of an 80% reduction, or the community’s goal of carbon neutrality.

The team found that even when trying all policy options, the city could likely only reduce emissions by 91% before 2050.  Most of the remaining emissions were from natural gas, which the team found was difficult to eliminate.  To achieve their goal of community carbon neutrality, the students concluded, Hermosa Beach would need to invest in emissions reductions elsewhere. 

Lauren Dickson, Jessie Fan, Vanessa Goh, Amanda Maki, Sarah Savarani, Tasnuva Shabnoor, and Dana Trans worked with advisor Juan Matute MA/MBA ‘09, and Planners Pamela Townsend of the City of Hermosa Beach and Sabrina Bornstein MA ‘09 of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments.

UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability supports the Environmental Science Practicum to offer students the opportunity to work in small teams, with an instructor, on real-life environmental problems with external clients.  Students gain research and professional development experience while working on cutting-edge sustainability issues in Southern California.  Private and corporate support helps make the program possible.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Planning for a Carbon-Neutral Hermosa Beach

Over the next 6 months, I'll be working with a team of seniors in UCLA's environmental science program to develop a carbon neutral blueprint for the City of Hermosa Beach.  I aim to keep the blog updated with thoughts and useful information for those elsewhere considering ambitious community climate plans.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Electric Vehicle (EV) Primer for Local Governments

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation is currently working on two EV-Related research projects that will add new knowledge to the challenge local governments face in integrating electric vehicles.  More electric vehicles will be sold in 2011 than ever before, and many cities and counties have questions about how electric vehicles will integrate into their existing built environment. At this page, you'll find introductory information and links to our memos and outside resources that will help you understand the opportunities and challenges of electric vehicle integration in your city.   More at 

Friday, 4 February 2011

Change in transit commuting for areas around some LA Metro stations, 2000 to 2005-2009

I was interested in finding change in transit ridership between 2000 and the 2005 to 2009 period captured in the American Community Survey, so I mapped the ACS2009 5-Year data and Census 2000 data at the block group level, then joined it with station areas, using area-weighted allocation for any block groups only partially within a 1/2 mile radius area.

We have a lot of data that is currently being used in research projects, but I wanted to share some of the findings below.

Which station areas experienced the highest growth in total number of transit commuters?

bold denotes a new station

Which station areas experienced the greatest growth in the percentage of workers who commuted on transit?
bold denotes a new station

Many of the green line stations in the second table have very few workers in the area, so the numbers are skewed. For instance, the I-105/Aviation station only had 800 workers within 1/2 mile, and 40 of them took transit.

Obviously the new Gold and Orange lines would be expected to create new transit commuters, since they opened in between the two Census surveys.  I think the big success story is the Vermont and Sunset station, which added 743 transit commuters and 2,023 workers between 2000 and 2005-2009.  This likely indicates that many people moved to the Vermont/Sunset station area specifically because they wanted to take transit to work.

What do you think?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

California Office of Planning & Research offers SB 375 Flow Charts

The Governor's Office of Planning and Research is offering a preliminary flow chart that will help navigate a project's CEQA implications after a region updates its Regional Transportation Plan along with a Sustainable Communities Strategy or Alternative Planning Strategy.  As a reminder, regions around the state must demonstrate their ability to meet per capita transportation GHG targets when they next update their RTPs:

MPO                Expected Update
SANDAG            Oct. 2011
SACOG              Dec. 2011
SCAG                 May 2012
Tahoe RPA          Oct. 2012
Butte CAG           Dec. 2012
MTC                   April 2013
Santa Barbara      Aug. 2013

Regions which fail to receive's ARB approval for their GHG reduction strategies will sacrifice CEQA streamlining and exemptions that will reduce the monetary costs of transit oriented infill development.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Intensification of Industrial Land Use: Can it be friendly to the climate and economy?

I had a fleeting thought yesterday about intensification of industrial land uses. Rather than dismiss it, I decided to put it on the blog to possibly start a discussion.

When policymakers think about greenhouse gas reductions from the regional transportation network, they usually spend more time considering light duty vehicles than goods movement. There are a few reasons for this. First, light duty vehicles are subject to SB 375’s greenhouse gas reduction targets; medium and heavy duty vehicles involved in commerce are not. Second, light duty vehicles make up a much higher proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. Thirdly, the dollar amount of economic productivity associated with a ton of greenhouse gas emissions is much higher for goods movement, and there are fewer mobility alternatives (a pallet of Blu-ray players can’t take the blue line). Thus, planners and policymakers aren’t actively looking for reductions in travel activity from goods movement. Most policies focus on efficiency or fuel switching (truck stop electrification, natural gas tractor trailers, etc). Very few land use strategies consider goods movement and commerce.

Currently most goods entering into Los Angeles come from the ports of LA and Long Beach. They are then trucked to warehouses or cross-docking facilities near the ports, or in the Inland Empire (and other areas).
The majority of these goods then proceed to other areas of the country. However, a sizable portion is distributed to serve the LA market. These goods backtrack, creating additional goods movement vehicle activity and costs associated with transport.

New warehouses and manufacturing facilities need large parcels. The area around the ports and the gateway cities is largely built-out. Large vacant or underutilized parcels are located in the Inland Empire, Apple Valley, and Lancaster/Palmdale.

One strategy to concentrate more warehouses and light industrial facilities near the ports would be to densify existing land uses. This would include multi-story warehouses (with truck ramps serving multiple levels), and industrial facilities. Multistory industrial buildings were more common before World War II, when there was a higher premium on proximity and non-vehicle accessibility. New multistory industrial facilities are virtually unheard of now. I’d be interested in whether this is due to constraints of the market (it’s just too expensive to acquire parcels and build viable multistory manufacturing facilities), or constraints of zoning regulations (FARs and height limits in industrial districts would prohibit such buildings).

If the constraint is zoning regulations, then planners could accomplish a number of policy objectives by allowing the densification of industrial parcels.

1. The intensification of jobs per acre would help with the economic revitalization of the area around the ports and gateway cities.
2. Regional congestion could be reduced compared to the counterfactual where new industrial development occurs further away from the ports. Drayage may continue to occur during the daytime based on logistics requirements of ports (ship in port for limited time, limited storage available at port facility). However, long distance trucking to move vehicle out of the LA basin could occur at night.
3. Graduated density zoning could assist in efforts to assemble parcels to increase new building footprints. Parcel assemblage is a frequent problem for infill industrial developers – one holdout can kill a project. Allowing greater density for larger parcels will increase the value of land for large parcels, provide (see Donald Shoup’s work on graduated density zoning). Local governments could even look at the vacation of air rights along streets in industrial areas to help with the creation of large multistory industrial buildings. Streets would remain, but would be bridged over by building structures.
4. Densification of warehousing facilities would also provide a larger market for initiatives to shift more goods from trucks to rail, or to concentrate rail traffic on a single grade separated right of way as opposed to multiple tracks with at-grade crossings.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

SB 375 - The Process Map

In a continuous effort to make SB 375 more accessible, I bring you the process map:

The earlier entry was inaccurate (based on a previous version of SB 375 that was not chaptered and enrolled).  I now refer you to the Governor's Office of Planning and Research SB 375 CEQA Flow Chart.