Reducing Our Environmental Footprint
Government solutions for reducing our environmental impact sometimes have the opposite affect: they create an even larger footprint throughout implementation. Although we absolutely must move forward in supporting LA's Green New Deal, there are many easy, common sense steps we can take as a community that will move us more swiftly toward zero carbon emissions.
Expand Section 8 housing subsidies
Taking action to expand Section 8 Housing subsidies will not only provide affordable housing options for low to middle income households, it will also move our community closer to carbon neutrality. We need to provide Section 8 assistance on a sliding scale based on financial need for qualifying applicants, and we can offer additional subsidies if the applicant accepts housing in close proximity to their workplace. By enabling applicants to realistically access housing closer to work, they will not require transportation which will reduce our carbon footprint.
Reduce Single Use Plastics
We all need to take action to reduce our city's consumption of single-use plastics. The city should forge partnerships with organizations that have already developed and implemented effective solutions for city-wide plastic reduction. One program I support is Habits of Waste (H.O.W.). They are working hard to implement water re-fill stations in every public school and eliminate the distribution of plastic bottles in our education system. Not only will this reduce our plastic waste, it will also teach our children about sustainability. Another H.O.W. solution that should be implemented on a large scale is a partnership with delivery/take-out services to make plastic cutlery, to-go-containers, and other wasteful packaging an option for customers. H.O.W. suggests that by simply adding an 'opt-out' selection for cutlery on food delivery services, we can eliminate millions of pieces of plastic waste daily.
Protect our Parks and Green Spaces
In a city where green space is a treasured commodity, we cannot afford to impose additional stress on our already stressed environment. Our parks and trees not only reduce city temperatures and clean our air, but they also provide habitat for animals, space to grow community food and opportunity for outdoor recreation. We cannot jeopardize these precious spaces by allowing homeless encampments to expand throughout them. Encampments produce waste on many levels: chemical waste, food waste (that attracts rodents and unwanted interactions with wildlife) and toxic human waste. Every year, more than 17 million pounds of human waste from those living on our streets contaminates our waterways and flows into the ocean. We must provide systemic change that will permanently help people in need and preserve our environment at the same time.
Common Sense Solutions to Reduce Carbon Emissions
The 2020 Embarcadero Study offered clearly laid-out solutions to reduce our carbon footprint that I would like to implement immediately. The direct references below are cost-effective steps that will make significant positive impact:
On Transit - "ADDING ONE MORE PASSENGER MAKES CAR EMISSIONS COMPETITIVE WITH TRANSIT.
Everyone is focused on transit, but despite funding to the tune of more than $12 billion/year, transit only represents 5% of commuters in California. Of those, almost two-thirds ride buses. Interestingly, it takes only one passenger for auto to become more environmentally friendly than buses and competitive with rail."
On Incentivizing Carpooling and Telecommuting - "What if the biggest impact on green house gas emissions lay in incentivizing carpooling among the 74% of commuters who drive alone? Paying SOV commuters to participate ($50 a week to drive, $20 a week to be a passenger) is cheaper than expanding transit solutions and has a better pay-off. Tripling train ridership would require a significant investment in rail miles and capacity. Tripling bus ridership requires dedicated bus lanes to ensure buses are competitive with or superior to auto.
Finally, while we wait for better transit solutions the state should keep in mind that it is job density not housing density that is correlated with higher transit use.
Encouraging 10% of SOV commuters to carpool and 20% of commuters to telecommute once a week would reduce carbon emissions by around 4 million tons a year. That represents 30% of the statewide carbon emissions across all sectors in 2016. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 170 million tons by 2030 - 4 million tons may seem like a small contribution, but it’s more than double what’s possible if we increase statewide transit use to San Francisco levels. More importantly it won’t take 10 years and cost $10 billion a year to get there.
Given that emissions in the transportation sector are rising not falling, a 4 million ton reduction would be a significant turn around. We’ve assumed $5 to $10 a day would incentivize higher levels of carpooling, but perhaps there are other opportunities for incentives like more dedicated carpool lanes, stricter enforcement of carpool lanes or free parking for carpoolers."