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Los Angeles Without Gas-Powered Cars? ~ Here’s a Breakdown of What’s Inside Mayor Garcetti’s ‘Green New Deal’

4:19 PM PDT on May 1, 2019

[dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]an L.A. save itself from climate change? This week Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a wide-ranging plan to more or less give it a last-ditch shot. His outlined proposal would tackle everything from homelessness, transportation, renewable energy, the local water supply, and air quality in an effort to attempt peak possible sustainability as a metropolitan center within our lifetimes.

The language the plan would have been unimaginable just ten years ago. Now, Garcetti’s “Green New Deal” arrives as an obvious co-opting of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s increasingly popular proposal for a federal Green New Deal policy.

Garcetti’s updated environmental plan is essentially an accelerated and renamed version of his administration’s Sustainability Plan from 2015, others noted. In broad strokes, here’s what the mayor is proposing. The Green New Deal calls for the city of Los Angeles to:

    • Develop, with L.A. County, a countywide strategy to end oil and gas production and extraction.
    • Build a renewable energy infrastructure that provides 100% of the city’s energy by 2045, mostly from solar panels and solar powered batteries.
    • Recycle 100% of the city’s wastewater into “beneficial reuse,” by 2035.
    • Make all buildings within the city net-zero carbon emitters by 2050.
    • Build 45,000 affordable housing units by 2035 “and increase stability for renters.”
    • Electrify L.A. city buses and the Metro by 2030.
    • Cut all transportation greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050 by increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road to 100% of vehicles.
    • Reduce industrial emissions by 82% by 2050.
    • Create 300,000 green jobs by 2035.
    • And end homelessness in the city by 2028, when L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics.

The mayor’s Green New Deal surprisingly sparse on hard and specific policies to meet these, and many other goals. Many of the goals are modified versions of previous sustainability or green plans, or actually dial down goals when it comes down to specifics, said Alissa Walker, urbanism editor for Curbed LA.

"These are things that the city should have been doing anyway," Walker said. "The whole time he's been in office he could be have laid down 20 miles of bike lane a year, now it's all behind, and the bike lanes have been scaled back."

[dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]n the housing front, to cite another example, the goal to end homelessness in the city lists implementing Prop HHH by 2026, the voter approved measure passed in 2016 which gave the city a 1.2-billion dollar bond to fund affordable housing. Actual implementation of that housing has been beset by problems. And Prop HHH funds have yet to lead a single completed unit.

RELATED: We Have Ten Years to Save the World: Climate Change Is Definitely F*cking Happening ~ An Update

Residents hold a vigil at the Burlington Avenue Apartments in July 2018 against the pressing threat of eviction. Photo courtesy L.A. Tenants Union.

Garcetti's plan also offers two other ambitious goals, tackling transportation caused carbon emissions, and emissions from buildings include a mix of fuzzy plans and serious goals, including outlines to simply build more public electric car charging stations, mandate 100% zero emission trucks from the Port of L.A. by 2035, and a plan to just “engage building owners and tenants on benefits of building upgrades” to reduce carbon emissions.

In addition, the plan only promises to “evaluate” the feasibility of regulating a 2,500 feet buffer zone between oil drilling sites throughout the city by 2021, a regulation that STAND L.A. and a host of other environmental justice activist groups have been fighting the city to implement for years.

“At the end of the day, any Green New Deal in LA must put an end to oil companies drilling for health-harming, climate-damaging fossil fuels in the middle of our communities,” said Bahram Fazeli, the policy director for Communities for a Better Environment, and the co-chair of STAND L.A.

Scooters on the Venice bike path. Photo by Warren Szewczyk.

The L.A. chapter of the Sunrise Movement criticized Garcetti’s plan as too little too late, and “not a Green New Deal” at all. Sunrise argues that by 2030 when the carbon cutting initiatives in the mayor’s plan begin to ramp up, we’ll already be at a “point of no return,” and that “anything less than a total mobilization.”

“Our opposition will stop at nothing to squeeze every last bit of money out of the Earth,” said Varshini Prakash, the 25-year-old executive director of the Sunrise Movement at a Green New Deal event in Koreatown last Friday night, at the Ebell Theater. “There is too much at stake not to give it our best shot. We have no choice to give it every single thing that we have got.”

RELATED: Mixed Emojis: Voices from the Los Angeles Women’s March 2018

Daniel Hernandez contributed to this report.

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