Memo to Antonio … continued

It's time to treat L.A.'s rivers as habitat rather than flood control channels. Photo: lacreekfreak.org

Yesterday,  I outlined  my top three green initiatives that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa should tackle in the remainder of his second term. Here’s a look at some other environmental issues that he should make a priority:

Fast-track city approval of a Stream Protection Ordinance in 2010. The Department of Public Works has spent three and a half years working on a stream protection ordinance.  Based on Watershed Protection Division analysis, there are approximately 462 miles of riparian habitat that would receive some level of protection under the draft ordinance.  Council districts 11 (Rosendahl), 2 (Krekorian), and 12 (Smith) all have over 60 miles of habitat, while 11 out of 15 districts have at least 12 miles of habitat.  The ordinance would protect the city’s remaining stream habitat by requiring development buffer zones of 100 feet for soft-bottomed habitat and 30 feet for concrete-lined channels. We need to start treating streams like habitat rather than flood control channels. Unfortunately, the ordinance has been frozen in the mayor’s office for over two years. If the mayor says he wants to protect L.A.’s streams, the ordinance would likely sail through City Council.  Unfortunately, the ordinance is not on the mayor’s radar.

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Let It Rain

Rainwater capture: coming to your neighborhood soon

Rainwater capture: coming to your neighborhood soon

State water power brokers continue to battle over “replumbing” the Delta in the name of “saving” the Chinook and the Delta smelt. They continue to quibble over language in yet another water bond when we haven’t even started spending the last one. But little has been done to make it easy to exploit our most logical source of water: rain.

One of the great qualities of rain is that no one has any rights to it until it hits an aquifer or a body of water.  As such, agribusiness and ginormous water districts can’t fight over water rights as gravity takes it from the sky to your backyard.

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Do As I Say…

David Nahai, City of L.A. Mayor Anotonio Villaraigosa and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslasky

Left to right: H. David Nahai, City of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

H. David Nahai, the general manager and CEO of Los Angeles’ DWP mega-utility, has been taking a lot of heat of late. What was his transgression that made the news, blog and talk radio circuit light up? His family, ensconced in a 6,000-square foot home, is a water waster. Big time.  To the tune of more than 1,000 gallons a day, according to a recent home audit.

And Al Gore has a big carbon footprint because he travels around the world shouting about the perils of climate change to all that are willing to listen. Yes, we want our leaders to lead by examples. But often they don’t, just proving they are human. Was I surprised by the audit? Yes. Does it make me think he’s failed us? No.

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The Dry Facts

On June 4, 2008, CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought and issued an Executive Order directing immediate state action to deal with the crisis.

On June 4, 2008, CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought and issued an Executive Order directing immediate state action to deal with the crisis.

Late last year, I joined about 70 other environmental leaders at a Green LA meeting, where many members practically begged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to declare a drought. The logic being that L.A.’s DWP couldn’t implement a progressive water policy unless the mayor made a big, public declaration.

Fast forward to late spring, when the mayor and DWP general manager & CEO H. David Nahai surprised us all with a bold water plan that moves the city away from imported water and towards self sufficiency. Their message was simple: the drought is over. Gone are boom-and-bust perspectives of water use. Central and Southern California live in a new paradigm of permanent water scarcity due to climate change, shrinking Sierra snow pack, and reduced water allocations from the Colorado River, Eastern Sierras and the Sacramento River.

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