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.


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.

  • helloWorld

    yet garcetti is against SB50. this is just a farce

  • JoeJoe

    What a bunch of whiny complainers. Getting to 25% zero emission vehicles by 2025 and increasing the percentage of clean vehicles by 5% every year after that is a great goal. Think about how much extra demand for electricity all these new electric cars represent. It’s going to take a ton of work to get all the new charging and generation infrastructure built.

    Cars (diesels in particular) represent over 40% of California’s GHG emissions, over 40% of our NOx emissions and in excess of 25% of the PM pollution in LA. Focusing on reducing pollution from cars is exactly where LA should start.

    The Sunrise Movement is apparently some sort of Green Peace for kids. Energy performance artists with attitude. What do we want? Everything! When do we want it? Today! Who’s going to do the work? No idea!

  • Manufacturing new vehicles requires a significant investment of energy and resources so switching to “zero emission vehicles” is still NOT as good a step forward as just completely weaning people off the chronic use of vehicles in the first place.

  • JoeJoe

    Angelenos will give you their keys when you pry them from their cold, dead hands.

  • LA hasn’t shown a willingness to do the politically tough things that would reduce car use: congestion pricing, getting rid of minimum parking requirements and allowing the building of enough apartments near every bus and rail stop.

    Building electric vehicle chargers is good. Cars with no tailpipe emissions that can run on zero-carbon electricity are preferable to cars that belch pollution. It’s also politically safe. It’s incremental progress that’s not really challenging the way most of us live. That could be both a compliment and a criticism.

  • helloWorld

    that is a hard goal to get to. I don’t know if you haven’t been paying attention or not, but people are taking 7-8 year loans on cars. there is no way they would all be replaced by then. have you seen poor people driving cars without bumpers. they can’t afford a new car, let alone a new bumper. putting 25% by 2025 would bankrupt many, many poor people. you already have people living in the streets. pretty sure many would prefer to pay their rent over a new car

  • JoeJoe

    We’re paying $4/gallon for gas right now. That’s about $160/month for the average driver. The monthly operating costs of an PHEV would be closer to $60 which is a considerable savings.

    Used PHEVs (Volts in the LA area for example) are going for $14 to 20 k. This translates to a monthly payment of $250 to $350 a month. This should be in the price range for 50 to 75% of the population.

  • JoeJoe

    The average loan payment for a new car is over $500. The net loan payment (loan minus savings on gasoline) on a PHEV can be as low as $250. We’re not going to force poor people to buy Plug in vehicles… We’re going to start the transition process by strongly encouraging all the folks who currently drive BMWs, Porches and Mercedes to buy plugin vehicles with a minimum of 50 to 100 miles of electric range. A 25% switch in 6 years is very difficult but doable. You just have to make a culture change.


Garcetti Sustainability ‘pLAn’ One Year Update Shows Environmental Progress

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. […]