• The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has adopted an ambitious climate and sustainability plan that sets the county to go carbon neutral by 2050. The OurCounty plan also calls for eliminating fossil fuel production in the county and transitioning the sector’s workers to the clean energy industry. 
  • The plan includes more than 150 strategies focused on health, including initiatives around food systems, transit-oriented development and housing affordability. The plan says county officials will use zoning policies to “promote thriving places for current and future generations.”
  • The plan was developed over two years with input from nearly 1,000 stakeholders throughout the county.

Los Angeles County, with 10.1 million residents, is the nation’s largest non-state government entity and is larger than all but 10 states, which means the sustainability plan will be closely watched as a model for others.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said in a statement that the OurCounty plan is “the biggest in the nation, the most ambitious in the nation, dare I say the most progressive in the nation.” It also joins ongoing climate and sustainability plans from the state of California, which seeks to reduce emissions 40% of 1990 levels by 2030, and the City of Los Angeles, which announced a Green New Deal this spring seeking 100% renewable energy by 2045

Of particular concern is water quality and availability; the OurCounty plan sets a goal of sourcing 80% of water locally by 2045, up from 41% currently. That will come through stormwater capture, recycled water and conservation. 

Significantly, the county-level plan goes well beyond energy production and transportation, with goals that cover the living environment for disadvantaged people. By setting goals around zoning — including setbacks from industrial and fossil fuel operations — the county shows that sustainability is also about changing people’s lifestyles and local environments. The plan includes a section on engaging disadvantaged communities in decision-making and sustainability plans. 

That’s the result of significant community outreach, including two phases of stakeholder involvement and workshops organized by the social justice group Liberty Hill. Michele Prichard, director of Liberty Hill’s Common Agenda program, said that letting residents list their priorities helped make the plan more comprehensive than it could have been. That fits in with some of the environmental justice goals that have become part of Green New Deal plans, on top of the sustainability language. 

“The community has everything to do with the ambition of the plan, especially its more visionary components,” Prichard told Smart Cities Dive. “The fact that we have a chapter on food systems is because of what we heard in the community. The discussion on housing and gentrification and transit-oriented development, that came from the community.”


SANTA MONICA MIRROR, LA County Adopts One of Nation’s Most Ambitious Sustainability Plans, by Sam Catanzaro

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday unanimously adopted the OurCounty Sustainability Plan, one of the boldest, most comprehensive regional approach to sustainability ever issued by a county in the United States.

The plan, drafted over the course of two years with the help of nearly 1,000 community and expert stakeholders from every part of the County, sets forth an ambitious agenda that looks to transform the region in the years and decades ahead.

Recognizing the urgency of existing regional challenges and the climate crisis, the plan aims to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement by creating a fossil-fuel-free Los Angeles County within the next three decades. It includes nearly 160 health-focused strategies centering on communities that have been disproportionately affected by environmental pollution for decades.

“At its heart, this plan is both a call to action and a commitment to future generations,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who, with Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, sponsored the motion to create the County’s Chief Sustainability Office, which led to the development of the plan. “This is our unequivocal statement that climate change is real, and that our County will not stand around waiting for the federal government to wake up and create the policies and programs needed to address it.

Unlike other sustainability plans, the OurCounty plan is unique in its regional focus as it moves to confront a wide range of environmental, social and economic challenges.

“The OurCounty Sustainability Plan charts a path forward to not only confront climate change and pollution, but to do so in ways that also address other challenges, like traffic, the housing affordability crisis, and longstanding inequality,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn. “We don’t have to choose between clean air and good jobs, or between investing in a greener economy and an economy that works for everyone, or even between preserving local ecosystems and building abundant housing that our residents can afford.  These false choices force us to think small when the real solutions are so much bigger.”

“This Sustainability Plan takes a strategic approach to improving the health and quality of life in communities across Los Angeles County,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “The demand for more affordable housing, well-paying jobs, healthier living, and clean and green transportation are all intertwined. Collectively, we must pursue bold and holistic strategies if we are serious about prioritizing the sustainability of our region.”

Overall, OurCounty proposes to make Los Angeles County a more equitable, prosperous and resilient region in the years ahead. The plan’s goals and milestones include:

  • Powering unincorporated areas and County facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025
  • Increasing urban tree canopy coverage by 15% by 2035
  • Diverting more than 95% of waste from landfills
  • Developing land-use tools to limit new development in high climate-hazard areas
  • Phasing out single-use plastic by 2025 to ensure a cleaner ocean and less landfill waste
  • Cutting back on imported water by sourcing 80 percent of water locally by 2045 
  • Ensuring that all residents have safe and clean drinking water, and that rivers, lakes and the ocean meet federal water quality standards
  • Leading efforts to make sure that at least 65% of new housing is built within 1/2 mile of high frequency transit by 2035
  • Supporting construction of more than half a million affordable housing units by 2045 to improve public health and community sustainability

The County will not be making these changes alone, but in concert with the region’s cities and residents.

“Our future depends not just on the County’s actions, but also on the 88 cities of Los Angeles County stepping up to the plate to collectively help achieve the strategic plan’s vision for sustainability,” said Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai. “We look forward to building and growing these partnerships as we work toward common goals on behalf of all the communities we serve.”By Sam CatanzaroAugust 7, 2019 in NewsSanta Monica