Garcetti’s Green New Deal for Los Angeles Under Attack for Being Too Car-Centric

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Yesterday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled “L.A.’s Green New Deal,” a sustainability plan to continue and accelerate the city’s efforts to combat climate change. Goals for the plan include getting 55 percent of the city’s power supply from renewable energy sources by 2025, 80 percent by 2036, and 100 percent by 2045. The plan also calls for an increase of zero-emission vehicles on city streets to 25 percent by 2025, 80 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2050.

“This is a generational battle between the old way of doing business and the new way of doing business,” Garcetti declared.

As has become a normal experience in Los Angeles, Garcetti’s plan has received accolades for its vision in the media but heat from both sides of the political divide. Even progressive media outlet Now This broadcast an interview with the Mayor without questioning any of his claims (below).

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Most of the concerns from advocacy organizations note that despite spelling out the depth and urgency of the climate crisis, Garcetti avoids any call to action that would require an investment in alternatives to car driving…outside of a call for people to drive six less miles everyday.

Missing from the plan is a call to increase the size or accessibility of the city’s bus network, even as bus transit continues to both attract more riders than rail and hemorrhage riders every year. Nor is there a plan to increase the city’s bicycle network. In fact the plan calls for only twenty new miles of bike lanes a year, which is a step backwards from the Bike Plan passed during the previous mayor’s administration.

The Sunrise Movement, a coalition of youth leaders working on addressing climate change, also took issue with the plan’s timeline. In a statement posted on Medium, Sunrise Movement L.A. outlined its complaints (emphasis theirs).

Our generation’s future, as well as the future of Los Angeles and of the world, depends on us reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is not a goal — it is a deadline. With Mayor Garcetti’s current plan for net-zero emissions by 2050, Los Angeles is on track to be twenty years too late. That is not a Green New Deal.

If the Sunrise Movement’s statement seems harsh compared to others in the press, it pales in comparison to the reaction of Transit Center, a foundation that promotes urban mobility. On twitter, Transit Center labeled the Green New Deal “a joke” and its goal of three new Bus Rapid Transit routes by 2028 “pathetic.” They continue:

…there are dozens of major routes in need of transit priority. Cities can set aside lanes for buses in short order, if City Hall wants to, but there’s little evidence of the requisite political will in this plan.

Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling (STAND) also took issue with the plan, noting that while it may convert Los Angeles’ fleet to zero emission vehicles, it continues the practice of drilling for oil and natural gas in Los Angeles neighborhoods.

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Earlier this year, Garcetti announced that three natural gas power plants in Los Angeles would convert to renewable energy in short order.

“This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti in February. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”

The exclusion of a plan, or timeline, to end drilling for oil and natural gas seems a glaring omission, especially one for a city that already understands that natural gas is a greenhouse gas and not a clean alternative to oil.

Unfortunately that omission is just one of many amidst the lofty rhetoric of this not-so-Green New Deal.

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For last week’s Earth Day 2016, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti presented a one-year update on his April 2015 Sustainable City pLAn. The mayor’s ambitious “pLAn” [PDF] serves as a mechanism to keep the city committed to and on track towards various sustainability goals: reducing vehicle miles traveled, reducing traffic fatalities, increasing walk/bike/transit mode share, fostering transit-oriented development, etc. […]