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Yaroslavsky on Feud Between Mayor and Union

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the L.A. Times about the political feud between Mayor Eric Garcetti and the union that represents workers at the Department of Water and Power. The union has run a series of television and radio commercials attacking Garcetti’s plan to address climate change, saying it would eliminate thousands of jobs amid a serious housing crisis. Much of the opposition is driven by Garcetti’s plan to close three DWP natural gas plants but that is not mentioned in the ad, the story notes. “Unless you’re on the inside, you don’t really know what this is all about,” Yaroslavsky said. “You don’t know that it’s about shutting down fossil-fuel-powered plants in the basin.” Noting that the ads may be aimed at City Council members, Yaroslavsky said the union’s message may be: “This is what we’re doing to the mayor. Imagine what we can do to you.”

 

Eric Garcetti Named 2017 Commencement Speaker Mayor of Los Angeles will deliver keynote address at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs ceremony on June 16

By George Foulsham

Eric Garcetti, the 42nd mayor of Los Angeles, has been named the 2017 Commencement speaker for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Garcetti will speak during the Luskin ceremony at 9 a.m. on June 16 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

“Mayor Eric Garcetti’s pathbreaking efforts on behalf of transportation infrastructure, livable Los Angeles communities and forward-thinking governance has had transformative impact on the City of Los Angeles and, indeed, the entire region,” said Gary Segura, dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “Beyond his passionate work on the expansion of the region’s transportation network, he has used the office of the mayor to advance focused efforts toward reducing homelessness, enhancing environmental sustainability, and creating a safer and more just Los Angeles.

“This form of governance is a perfect reflection of the Luskin School’s intellectual commitment to human well-being at all levels,” Segura added. “It is our privilege to welcome him as our 2017 Commencement Speaker.”

Garcetti was first elected mayor of L.A. in 2013 and won re-election in this year’s municipal election. According to the mayor’s website, his “back to basics” agenda is focused on job creation and solving everyday problems for L.A. residents.

Garcetti was elected four times by his peers to serve as president of the Los Angeles City Council from 2006 to 2012. From 2001 until taking office as mayor, he served as the councilmember representing the 13th District, which includes Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Atwater Village.

Garcetti was raised in the San Fernando Valley and earned his B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University. He is the son of former L.A. County District Attorney Gil Garcetti.

Eric Garcetti studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and the London School of Economics and has taught at Occidental College and USC. A fourth-generation Angeleno, he and his wife, Amy Elaine Wakeland, have a young daughter. He is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and is an avid jazz pianist and photographer.

Learn more about the 2017 Commencement at UCLA Luskin.

 

Urban Planning Alum Patrick Horton Receives Honor Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti congratulated Horton for his service to the public

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Patrick Horton MA Urban Planning ’01 was recently honored for dual civilian and U.S. Coast Guard service at the Chamber of Commerce in his hometown of Temple City. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti congratulated Horton for his service to the public both within the Coast Guard and as a Los Angeles City employee. As a member of the Coast Guard, Lt. Horton serves in maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and marine wildlife protection as an Executive Officer based in Long Beach. Horton has served three terms as a Temple City Planning Commissioner.

New Magazine Adds to LA’s Policy Conversation UCLA Blueprint, a new magazine bringing together policy research and civic leadership, debuted at a Wednesday event

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By Cynthia Lee
UCLA Newsroom

UCLA has launched a new magazine that aims to inform ongoing conversations on major public policy issues facing Los Angeles and California, serve as a public resource and highlight relevant campus research.

UCLA Blueprint — written and edited by veteran journalists and astute observers of local and state government — debuted this week with an issue focused on public safety and criminal justice. The magazine is a partnership between the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA External Affairs, whose public outreach programs facilitate the campus’s role in addressing societal challenges.

At a Wednesday night event marking the magazine’s inaugural issue, Chancellor Gene Block said civic engagement has been one of his top priorities since the beginning of his administration. “UCLA engages with the greater Los Angeles community in myriad ways. And I am delighted to say that the launch of UCLA Blueprint is very much in keeping with our ongoing civic engagement efforts…. It’s dazzling in every way.”

Among the guests celebrating the launch of Blueprint was former California Gov. Gray Davis (left), standing with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Newton.

About 125 guests attended the event at the Chancellor’s Residence, including community and business leaders, UCLA administrators and faculty, journalists and government officials. Among them were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former California Gov. Gray Davis, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, City Controller Ron Galperin and Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Paul Krekorian and Bernard Parks.

The event featured a wide-ranging conversation between Garcetti and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Jim Newton, covering crime, the mayor’s extensive use of real-time data and metrics to monitor the pulse of the city, Los Angeles’ booming tech sector, the recent minimum-wage increase and other topics in the news.

Newton is a former Los Angeles Times writer and editor of 25 years, the author of biographies on Earl Warren and Dwight Eisenhower, and a co-author of a memoir with Leon Panetta.  He said before the event that the magazine is intended to strengthen UCLA’s ties to civic life and share faculty expertise in a way that serves the greater good.

“Much of the work of city, county and state government in California is now done without the benefit of serious research,” said Newton, a senior fellow at the Luskin School and lecturer in communication studies, where he teaches courses on journalism ethics and writing. “Largely, that’s a product of budgets — governments just don’t have the kind of research capacity they used to have. By bringing UCLA research to the attention of policymakers, better policy can be made.”

In the editor’s note in the first issue, Newton wrote that he spent more than two decades “watching sausage being made in city, county and state government (and occasionally the school board), often baffled by the basis for decisions. Why doesn’t the subway go to the airport? Why does the region capture so little rainwater? Why do some drug offenders spend more time in prison than those convicted of violent crimes? The poison in each case is politics. The antidote is research.”

Newton emphasized before Wednesday’s event that Blueprint is not an academic journal. “We’re striving to make it serious and journalistic, a general-interest magazine that’s accessible to people beyond the core policy community,” he said. “This is a region that is famously disengaged on matters of serious government policy, and this magazine is intended to draw people into those conversations and give them the information they need to help them participate.”

Replete with bold, attention-getting graphics, the first issue of Blueprint takes a sweeping look at criminal justice and public safety from a variety of entry points. Beck, the LAPD’s top cop, talks about how policing has changed. UCLA Luskin researcher Michael Stoll reveals what’s behind the surge in the U.S. prison population. UCLA psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff explains how he measures hidden racial bias in law enforcement. And in a Q&A, California Attorney General Kamala Harris talks about the biggest challenge she has faced in fixing the state criminal justice system.

There’s also a profile of a community activist whose call for reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been transformed into a rallying cry among protesters nationwide — “Black lives matter.”

Newton said the debut issue addresses criminal justice and public safety because police use of force is increasingly in the headlines and because the topics are familiar to him — he covered the LAPD as a reporter for five years.

In the discussion Wednesday, Garcetti reflected on the recent unrest in Baltimore and L.A.’s own problems.

“We had Rodney King.… We had the consent decree. We had Ramparts,” he said. “It is through the trauma that we went through that Los Angeles is a more resilient city and [has] a more resilient [police] department.… What a police chief says, what a mayor does, who we collectively are as a city in moments of potential trauma is, first and foremost, what good policing — good public safety — is all about.”

Blueprint’s second issue, due out this fall, will focus on economic and social inequality and include an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a Columbia University economist and respected author. Newton said he hopes the magazine will grow into a quarterly publication, and he plans to hold public events to extend the discourse around each new issue.

“Not only are we trying to create a conversation online and in print,” Newton said, “but a literal conversation where we will gather together policymakers, journalists, academics and other thoughtful people and hope that they learn from each other.”

 

Bohnett Fellows Make a Difference in L.A. Mayor’s Office UCLA Luskin's signature executive apprenticeship program provides on-the-job training and networking opportunities, including this visit to Washington, D.C.

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By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

From L.A. to D.C., students in the David Bohnett Fellowship program are making an impact wherever they go.

This fellowship program, sponsored by the David Bohnett Foundation, gives UCLA Luskin students the unique opportunity to work in the L.A. Mayor’s office.

UCLA Luskin was the first of three schools across the nation to offer the Bohnett Fellowship, followed by the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Since its inception in 2006, fellows have had the chance to apply their studies to local issues, from homelessness to transportation alternatives.

Second-year Social Welfare master’s student Skylar Lenox had the opportunity to form and implement the Mayor’s Volunteer Corps, a group meant to “connect Angelenos with high impact volunteer opportunities . . . with Mayor Garcetti’s vision. It’s about finding opportunities that are high impact and meaningful,” said Lenox.

Kelsey Jessup, a second-year Public Policy student, was already interning at the Mayor’s office when she was accepted into the program, but the fellowship opened the doors to new opportunities within the office.

“Even as an intern they treat you as part of the staff . . . but with the fellowship expectations rose,” said Jessup. “I was there full time, doing bigger projects and more pressing things for the office.”

Jessup works in the Performance Management and Budget & Innovation department. At the start of her fellowship, Jessup became involved in one of the largest projects at the mayor’s office. “When Mayor Garcetti came to office in 2013, he took the role of CEO and planned to interview and evaluate all general managers of the city departments,” Jessup said. “I worked with my team on the analysis, and it was a great opportunity to learn about all the departments.”

Beyond working locally, however, fellows had the opportunity to travel and speak with students and policymakers across America.

In October, Bohnett Fellows from three different cities converged in Detroit to discuss how policy changed and revitalized Michigan’s most populous city. A group of UCLA Bohnett fellows also attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., an annual event for mayors to discuss policy issues. The program was featured in Governing magazine.

“The conference allowed me to get out of academia and in the practical world,” Lenox said. “It has been the link between theory and practice, which allowed me to better get into the mindset of a practitioner.

“I learned what it means to be a leader in your city and evaluate policy in a way that brings in not just [the] ideal,” she said.

The conference allowed for Bohnett fellows to witness the perspectives and ideas of mayors in different areas of the U.S., and facing different challenges, coming together in a cohesive discussion.

“My biggest takeaway was that I felt inspired by what people across the nation are doing. Just being around all these mayors who want to collaborate and serve the public is inspiring,” Jessup said. “It makes me proud to work in a city that’s part of that movement.”

Both Lenox and Jessup will be finishing their work at the Mayor’s Office this year, but their future in policy and social work is just beginning.

Jessup, who studied theater as a UCLA undergraduate and worked in a variety of fields, views the fellowship as a window of opportunity for a career in public policy. “I’m learning skills, but without the experience of the fellowship I would have had a much harder time getting work experience on the field,” said Jessup. “It’s given me the foot in the door that I really didn’t know how I was going to get.”

Lenox is equally optimistic about the path she will take following the end of the fellowship and her studies at UCLA Luskin. “The fellowship is not just funding our education – they are really invested in us as leaders and future change makers,” said Lenox. “I really see social work as one of the most powerful disciplines you can be trained in for creating positive social change and being a service to others.”

VC Powe, executive director of External Programs, has overseen the program since its inception. She says the proof of the program’s promise is that all the graduates of the fellowship have secured full-time jobs in public service fairly quickly after graduation.

More information about the Bohnett Fellowship, including application information for UCLA Luskin students, can be found on the program website.

UCLA Luskin Center Study Informs LA Energy Efficiency Commitment Announced by Mayor Garcetti Today

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November 10th — Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti announced today a new, industry-leading energy efficiency commitment for the city’s utility, with the goal informed by a new UCLA study addressing the economic and employment benefits of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP’s) energy efficiency programs. Speaking at the press conference with the Mayor, UCLA Luskin Center Director J.R. DeShazo drew attention to the study, which finds that LADWP’s diverse portfolio of energy efficiency programs already creates 16 job-years per million dollars invested, and that a full implementation of these programs into 2020 could result in nearly 17,000 job-years in Los Angeles County.

The release of the UCLA Luskin Center study today came after LADWP commissioners recently approved a commitment to a 15% reduction in electricity consumption in Los Angeles through energy efficiency measures. David Jacot, Director of Energy Efficiency at DWP, recommended this goal using the jobs study as proof of the positive economic and employment benefits of energy efficiency programs.

“Just as water conservation is how we will get through our drought and control our water costs, energy conservation is how we will address climate change and keep our power bills low,” Mayor Garcetti said. “Investing in efficiency is three to four times cheaper than building new power plants and it takes pollution out of our air. The cheapest and cleanest way to ensure we have enough electricity to keep the lights on and power our economy is through energy efficiency.”

 

Efficiently Energizing Job Creation in Los Angeles highlights the importance of energy efficiency efforts. Obvious benefits include reduced air pollution and decreased burden on the electric grid, while the study specifically quantifies the numbers and types of jobs created by LADWP’s existing energy efficiency programs.

After analyzing LADWP’s diverse portfolio of 18 energy efficiency programs, UCLA researchers found that those programs create an average of 16 job-years per million dollars invested in Los Angeles County. The 18 programs researched in the UCLA study generally come in two varieties—direct install or incentive/rebate based–and deal with new construction as well as retrofits of existing building stock. Examples of these two types of offerings include programs such as the Small Business Direct Install, which provides small business customers actual energy and water-saving installations at no charge, while others such as the Customer Performance Program offer customers an array of rebates and incentives to encourage retrofits in lighting, air conditioning, refrigeration, and more.

The study found that the programs benefit all types of LADWP customers—industrial, commercial and residential, including low-income and senior citizen life line customer.  These programs also have the added benefit of stimulating growth among a wide set of skills and trades, from electrical, plumbing and construction to engineering and design, and the investment in these programs were found to have significant ripple effects in the local economy.

The authors of the study note that 16 job-years per million dollars invested is significantly higher than legacy energy production methods like coal and natural gas, as well as “typical” job-creators like construction, which create 6.9, 5.2 and 10.7 jobs respectively. It is even higher than other green industries like solar and smart grid, which create 13.7 and 12.5 jobs respectively. This research fills a big gap in accurate job creation numbers associated with specific types of energy efficiency programs, and will hopefully serve as a model that other utilities around the country can use.

Industry Job Years / Million $ Invested
Energy Efficiency 16.0
Solar 13.7
Smart Grid 12.5
Construction 10.7
Coal 6.9
Natural Gas 5.2

Moving forward, the programs could create over a quarter billion dollars annually in economic output. Forecasting through 2020, the Luskin Center study finds that LADWP energy efficiency programs would create nearly 17,000 job-years in Los Angeles County as the programs are currently designed.

Revitalizing Cities with ‘Urban Acupuncture’ Renowned planner Jaime Lerner shared his views on building cities in Brazil at the inaugural Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin lecture.

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You could feel the collective breath in the room hold for a brief moment as Jaime Lerner leaned in to the podium and began to speak.

In his calm even tone, Lerner the acclaimed architect, urban planner, and former mayor and governor of Curitaba, Brazil and Parana State credited for fathering a type of planning that is utilized by cities worldwide, gave a short presentation that was equal parts inspirational and educational.

At one moment Jaime waxed poetically on the beauty of cities in the lives of people. The next moment he was encouraging the audience of UCLA students from across campus that their ideas are good enough to be executed now. And another moment, in a review of some of the ways he revitalized areas of Curitaba, Brazil when he was mayor, he revealed the innovative mind of one who is far above the norm. It is no wonder he is the recipient of numerous international awards, and the list of his accomplishments – creating a subway system, building a theater in two months, coming up with a solution for city waste to where it achieved the highest rate of garbage separation in the world in 1989, and much more —  make for very chunky sentences.

Such is the heft that Lerner brought to the evening. It explains the enthusiasm with which his appearance on UCLA campus was received. The event on Oct. 28 titled “Urban Acupuncture & Sustainable L.A.” was co-sponsored by Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin, the Department of Urban Planning, the Healthy Campus Initiative, the Center for Brazilian Studies, the Lewis Center, and Island Press.

Lerner began his presentation by noting that in order to make a change in a city, there will need to be political will, solidarity, strategy, and good equation of co-responsibility – knowing how to transform a problem into a solution.

When it comes to building smart cities, Lerner said plans need to respect the identity and socio-diversity of the city.

“For me a city is a structure of living, working, moving, and leisure together,” he said. “When we separate urban functions, when we separate people by income, by ages, by religions, every time we want a more human city we’ll need to mix. Mix functions, uses, ages. Then it becomes more human.”

He explained that the city is the family portrait for the inhabitants, and just because one aspect is unseemly, it can’t just be cut off. Urban acupuncture – making focal pinpricks that revitalize cities quickly – help to provide new energy to cities during the long process of city planning.

Lerner encouraged the audience to reinvigorate their cities by putting their ideas into action.

“Innovation is starting,” he said. “If you try to have all the answers, you will never start.”

He added: “If you want creativity, cut one zero from your budget. If you want sustainability, cut two zeros. If you want solidarity, keep your own identity and respect other’s diversity.”

As for how those ideas can be used in Los Angeles, Lerner said his first innovation would be to start with simple demonstrative effects – building new transportation lines here and there, giving examples of improvements that citizens can grasp on to.

He noted that local planners and students probably already have great ideas for how to improve Los Angeles, but the question is how to organize the ideas

“First of all, I think it’s important to create a scenario – a broad view of the city that everyone or the large majority understands is desirable,” he said. “If they understand, then they will help you to make it happen.”

Lerner emphasized that communication is key to getting inhabitants of a city on board with a collective vision. He recommended starting by teaching children about their city

“Try to have them design their own city. Then they’ll understand their city and respect it better,” he said, adding that teaching children how to live in a city, such as educating them on how to cross streets safely, are only teaching them the rules of automobiles – not about the city itself.

He repeated again that city planning just need to be about starting.

“Planning is not magic…We have to understand we don’t have all the answers. Planning a city is like a trajectory where you start and then you have to leave some room for people to correct you if you’re not on the right track,” he said.

Panelist Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, noted that Lerner’s concept of urban acupuncture is used in Los Angeles today. In an interview in the Washington Post, Mayor Eric Garcetti referenced the concept when promoting the “Great Streets” program to improve defined areas of Los Angeles.

Though the projects developed for the Great Streets initiative were conceived of my LADOT members, Reynolds noted that Lerner’s planning concepts are “inherent, embedded in a lot of the ideas that flow through the strategic plan.”

“Those ideas were so powerful that they really have spread so quickly and they’re not bleeding edge anymore,” Reynolds added. “They are the playbook for urban streets and big cities. There’s not really a question of if we should do those things, but how we should do those things.”

When asked about the level of traffic in Los Angeles hampering reliable bus schedules, Reynolds said that buses are impacted when in mixed flow with cars. While it is not a big cost issue to develop bus lanes, it is a design issue that is mired in problems of process, political will, and environmental review, she said.

In the meantime, Reynolds said she expects to see more shared-ride models to be created to provide flexible on-demand transit. However, she said government has a role in making sure there is not too much privatization of public transit.

Paula Daniels, former Senior Advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and current senior fellow on Food Systems, Water, and Climate for the Office of Governor Jerry Brown, said delegations of Los Angeles officials visited Curitiba to see how the city had been revitalized.

“The concept of thinking of things more physiologically, which I think originated in Curitiba, is an important design construct. I do see how that pinprick in Curitiba is already radiating in other ways,” she said. She cited the improvements to the city’s storm water system as an example of a system developed from Lerner’s concepts.

White House Highlights Luskin Center Report UCLA Luskin Center research on clean energy solutions for Los Angeles cited by White House.

White House Says New Clean Energy Maps Answer Call to Unleash Data, Build Climate Resiliency

 UCLA-EDF Identify Major Opportunities to Curb Climate Pollution,
Spur Thousands of Clean Energy Jobs in Los Angeles County

(Los Angeles, CA – July 29, 2014) Los Angeles County is currently leaving around 98 percent of its solar capacity untapped. Achieving just 10 percent of its rooftop solar potential could create 47,000 jobs and slash nearly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — the equivalent of taking about half a million cars off the road — according to maps released today from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and highlighted in a White House announcement.

“Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call.”

The Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER) is a data-driven mapping tool designed to help communities identify opportunities to invest in projects that will save households money, create clean energy jobs, and strengthen climate resiliency in vulnerable communities. Maps show the region’s clean energy potential — in the form of rooftop solar energy generation and energy efficiency upgrades — which can reduce greenhouse gases while creating jobs and cutting electricity bills.

LASER also illustrates climate change-related heat impacts that are expected in the Los Angeles region, with a focus on the 38 percent of L.A. County residents (3.7 million people) living in environmentally-vulnerable communities burdened by air pollution and other risk factors, as identified by the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen). Based on analysis of CalEnviroScreen data, the report highlights that fully 50 percent of the state’s most vulnerable population lives in L.A. County. The State of California is expected to use the CalEnviroScreen to identify disadvantaged communities for the purpose of prioritizing funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  

“The project is timely because with new state funding sources becoming available, LASER can help inform how the region invests resources to address pressing environmental challenges while providing job opportunities in its most impacted communities,” said Colleen Callahan, lead author of the study and deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

“Data mapping tools like LASER provide powerful visualizations of the harmful effects that climate change can have on our most vulnerable populations, while highlighting the potential for significant economic growth and substantially healthier communities,” said Jorge Madrid, EDF’s senior partnerships coordinator.

The maps are a response to President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, a call to action to leverage public data in order to stimulate innovation and collaboration in support of national climate change preparedness. Alarming scientific findings from the National Climate Assessment show that climate change is already impacting all parts of the U.S., and arid regions like L.A. County can expect more intense heat waves in the coming decades — making resilience critical.

“Los Angeles is at the forefront of fighting climate pollution, deploying clean energy and preparing for the already tangible effects of climate change,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who serves on President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. “Through projects like the Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report, the city can help deploy more open data to inform community resiliency measures.”

The LASER project provides detailed, newly updated data at the County and municipality level designed to help policymakers and the public prepare for a warmer future. Maps demonstrate estimated temperature increases, current environmental health risks, and climate change vulnerability in various parts of the region. Parcel-level analysis gives planners and property owners detailed information about which buildings and other spaces across L.A. County are ripe for solar panel installation and energy efficiency measures. Taken as a whole, the project paints a comprehensive picture of clean energy opportunities in Southern California, and demonstrates the potential economic benefits of sustained investment in these strategies.

The research is part of UCLA’s Grand Challenge project “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” which sets a goal for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.

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 UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (innovation.luskin.ucla.edu), unites scholars with civic leaders to address pressing issues confronting our community, nation, and world. The Luskin Center produces research that informs public policy, with a focus on advancing environmental sustainability and innovation.

 Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our California Dream 2.0 Blog.  

 

 

Luskin Center Report: Tapping LA’s Vast Rooftop Solar Potential Could Reap Huge Benefits For City’s Most Disadvantaged Communities

LOS ANGELES, April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — A significantly expanded commercial rooftop solar program in Los Angeles would create thousands of new jobs and spur hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment, with particular benefit to residents living in traditionally underserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles, according to a joint UCLA/USC study conducted on behalf of the Los Angeles Business Council Institute.

The report, Sharing Solar’s Promise: Harnessing LA’s FIT to Create Jobs and Build Social Equity, calls for the LADWP’s current feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, also known as CLEAN LA Solar, to be expanded from 100 to 600 megawatts, and to include incentives for solar developers and property owners to focus much of that growth in low-income communities where solar potential is among the most promising in the city. Incentives should also be provided to companies hiring disadvantaged workers for the installation of the solar systems, according to the report.

The CLEAN LA Solar program allows local commercial property owners to sell solar power generated from rooftops and parking lots back to LADWP at a competitive fixed rate. The report finds that expanding the program to 600 megawatts will help Los Angeles achieve a state mandate to generate a third of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.

Prior studies commissioned by the LABC Institute have concluded that Los Angeles has 10,000 acres of rooftop solar potential, enough to support a FIT far larger than the 600 megawatt program recommended in the study released today from the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. And according to the report, over 40 percent of the current CLEAN LA Solar project applications are located in Los Angeles’ solar equity “hot spots,” or neighborhoods with abundant rooftop space for solar installations and also in need of significant socioeconomic and environmental investment. Areas identified as “hot spots” include the San Fernando Valley, Downtown Los Angeles and the region surrounding the Port of Los Angeles.

“It’s very encouraging to see that FIT applications are rolling in from across the city, particularly low-income neighborhoods where the environmental and economic benefits are so important,” said Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director of the USC PERE and one of the report’s authors. “Significant growth of the CLEAN LA Solar program is absolutely achievable, which is why we were so encouraged by Mayor Garcetti’s expression of support in his budget message for expanding in-basin solar generation to 600 megawatts,” he added.

“The CLEAN LA Solar FIT program is paving the way to secure our city’s future as a statewide and national leader in solar production, helping our environment and economy alike,” Mayor Garcetti said. “I applaud this program’s successful efforts to direct our abundant supply of sunshine to support local business and workforce development while reducing our carbon footprint.”

The program is already reaping benefits for workforce provider groups targeting disadvantaged workers across the Los Angeles region, including Homeboy Industries’ Solar Installation Training and Certification Program, the L.A. Conservation Corps’ Green Job Training Program and Empower America’s training program for veterans with Solar Provider Group.

The Sharing Solar’s Promise report also identifies areas of potential improvement to the LADWP program, and makes several recommendations designed to ensure that Los Angeles’ diverse workforce is an equal participant in and beneficiary of the FIT. Scaling the program from its current 100-megawatt capacity to 600 megawatts would add stability to the program and increase its potential environmental and economic benefits, researchers concluded.

The report proposes streamlining the FIT application process where possible, in particular moving the permitting process online for commercial, industrial and multifamily rooftop solar projects— which together comprise 69 percent of LA County’s solar potential. It also outlines strategies to expedite the processing of smaller commercial projects, which tend to have greater local economic development and job creation benefits for the local community.

“CLEAN LA Solar installations are already providing clean and sustainable power to communities across the city, from North Hollywood to Downtown Los Angeles to Chatsworth,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “As the FIT continues to expand, it’s important that the process be streamlined and simplified as much as possible, particularly for the applicants that commit to hiring local developers and disadvantaged workers.”


California
Governor Jerry Brown believes incentives through efforts that include California’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program are important to driving continued solar energy development in the state’s urban areas. “PACE enables homeowners to buy solar panels, install low-flow toilets and make other smart investments that save energy and water without breaking the bank,” he said. “As California confronts a severe drought and a rapidly changing climate, this program gives homeowners another opportunity to do their part.”

According to Sharing Solar’s Promise, California leads the nation in solar job creation with over 47,000 workers, accounting for about one-third of the nation’s total solar industry employment. And across the state itself, job growth in the solar sector (8.1%) outpaced overall job growth (1.7%) in the past year, a trend that is expected to continue.

“Rooftop solar on commercial buildings is a critical piece of Los Angeles’ economic development strategy which is why we’ve worked so hard to see the FIT realized,” said LABC President Mary Leslie. “Our CLEAN LA Coalition, including the Sierra Club and leading business, civic and other environmental and community-based organizations, is confident that an expanded FIT will place Los Angeles at the forefront of the clean energy movement in urban America, while spurring long-term economic benefits locally.”

LABC Chairman Jacob Lipa was enthusiastic about the study’s positive outlook on the FIT for workers and businesses alike. “It’s clear that the FIT is successfully creating a strong foundation for a thriving in-basin solar industry, while also stimulating local job growth and generating economic opportunity for the neighborhoods that need it the most,” he said. “Los Angeles has truly set a model for the rest of the country to follow, and we look forward to a bright future for this smart program that is simultaneously bringing in direct investment to the city and decreasing our impact on the environment.”

About the Los Angeles Business Council Institute

The LABC Institute is a forward-thinking research and education organization dedicated to strengthening the sustainable economy of California. Founded in 2010, the Institute provides a bridge between the business, government, environmental, labor and nonprofit communities of Southern California to develop policies and programs that promote investment, jobs and business development. The Institute is the research and education arm of the Los Angeles Business Council, one of the most respected business advocacy organizations in the region. Founded in 1936, the LABC is known as an innovator and catalyst for policy development on a wide range of issues, including education, housing, green building, energy efficiency, transportation and solar development. For more information, please visit www.labcinstitute.org.

About the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE)

USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) conducts research and facilitates discussions on issues of environmental justice, regional inclusion and social movement building. Since 2007, we have conducted high-quality research in our focus areas that is relevant to public policy concerns and that reaches to those directly affected communities that most need to be engaged in the discussion. PERE is situated within the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. For more information, please visit dornsife.usc.edu.

About the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, founded with a generous gift from Meyer and Renee Luskin, unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders to address pressing issues and translate world class research and expertise into real-world policy solutions. Research initiatives are supported by teams of faculty and staff from a variety of academic disciplines. The Luskin Center supports these initiatives by funding original research, scholars, conferences, technical internships and solution-oriented speaker series. The Luskin Center is based in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. For more information, please visit luskin.ucla.edu.

 

SOURCE Los Angeles Business Council Institute