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Sustainable Development Update
January 3, 2019
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Sustainable Development Focus

Court rejects San Diego County’s climate action plan again

KPBS - Dec 26 A San Diego Superior Court judge in late December rejected San Diego County’s latest climate action plan, finding that the plan failed to meet the county’s commitment to reach greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals laid out by the state of California. The judge decided that using carbon credits, or offsets from around the world, was not acceptable, calling the mitigation unverifiable. The ruling could affect four major county-approved developments, including the controversial Newland Sierra project in a rural part of North County, which the Sierra Club is challenging. This is the third time that San Diego County’s climate action plan has been rejected by the courts. The county can now appeal the ruling.


California invests in research to reduce global warming emissions

WASTE360 - Dec 26 California’s Strategic Growth Council (SGC) approved funding for four research initiatives that will develop clean technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance equitable outcomes for vulnerable communities. The research teams that were selected for funding will explore topics as varied as developing tools for resilient forest management, sustainable use of biomass, improving carbon sequestration on farmlands, and advancing more efficient cooling technologies in low income and disadvantaged communities. These investments will be made through the SGC’s Climate Change Research Program, which is funded by cap-and-trade auction proceeds.

California’s invisible rural housing crisis

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR - Dec 31 Housing advocates across the country are concerned as the precarious state of low-income housing in rural areas threatens to deteriorate over the next decade. Two 2018 reports found that, in the absence of more federal funding and better planning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rental housing program will shed some 20,000 units by 2027. Analysts predict that the loss rate will then accelerate through 2050, gutting the overall supply by 90 percent or more. California could lose nearly 27,000 units, more than any other state. The Housing Assistance Council, which conducted one of the studies, outlined remedies to preserve the supply of properties. The group proposes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer various tax incentives to landlords to remain in the program and continue rental assistance for tenants after mortgages mature to reduce the odds that owners will convert properties to market-rate housing. The changes would require congressional approval and additional funding.

Under current policies, residential batteries increase emissions in most cases

ARS TECHNICA - Dec 28 In December 2018, a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego published a paper in Environmental Science and Technology reporting that there are very few cases in which operating a residential home battery reduces overall emissions—assuming that households are economically rational and trying to minimize costs. If the battery is only discharged during periods of peak emissions and only charged when fossil fuel use is low, then a household might reduce emissions. But across 16 representative regions, operating a battery this way ended up being costly. The researchers found that the only way to reliably decrease emissions using batteries is if utilities incorporate a "Social Cost of Carbon" into their pricing schemes—that is, charging people extra for using electricity during carbon-heavy periods of generation.

Why the West Coast is suddenly beating the East Coast on transportation

NEW YORK TIMES - Jan 1 The subways on the East Coast that allowed New York, Washington, and Boston to thrive are showing their age and suffering from years of neglect, while cities on the West Coast are moving quickly to expand and improve their networks. The Los Angeles area, the ultimate car-centric region with its sprawling freeways, approved a sweeping $120 billion plan to build new train routes and upgrade its buses. Seattle has won accolades for its transit system, where 93 percent of riders report being happy with service — a feat that seems unimaginable in New York, where subway riders regularly simmer with rage on stalled trains. One key difference is the West Coast has the ballot measure, while New York State does not allow voters to directly approve measures like transit funding. In 2016, both Los Angeles County and the Seattle region approved measures to boost transportation funding. The Los Angeles proposal, known as Measure M, won nearly 70 percent of the vote, greenlighting $120 billion in spending by raising the sales tax.

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Chine Jeffrey A Jeffrey A. Chine
Partner
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San Diego
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Los Angeles
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Renée Louise Robin Renée Louise Robin
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San Francisco
(415) 273-8413
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Jan. 18, 2019
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