Hey, we all know we live in a paradise. The weather, the food, the diversity, the natural wonders, Hollywood, it’s all here. Between our massive economy and the 10 million people who live here, we could be a G20 nation. That magic and opportunity are why people around the planet dream of coming here.
But, all that buzz comes with a cost. We’ve set ourselves up to strain limited resources. We can’t keep going down that path. We are on the verge of a tipping point like we’ve never seen. That’s precisely why we are being proactive, bold and forward thinking by adopting the OurCounty Sustainability Plan.
This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky vision nor is it slapping a few band-aids on the problem. It is an actionable plan for driving change, real change. After all, it’s #OurPlanYourPlanet, so here’s our collective roadmap.
- Chill out
Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here? Climate change is contributing to higher peak temperatures and longer heat waves. Urban materials like roofs and pavements make things even worse by absorbing and retaining heat through a process known as “heat island effect.” We need ways to dial down the thermostat. OurCounty calls for a heat island mitigation plan that will use strategies like reflective paving materials and added green spaces to cool things down. The result will be fewer emergency room visits due to heat stress – and more ways to enjoy LA during those hot summer months.
- Low carb(on)
Did you know that buildings are responsible for nearly 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the County? A net zero carbon building, meaning a building that isn’t responsible for creating any carbon emissions, has to be energy and water efficient. But achieving net zero, or “decarbonization,” also means eliminating fossil fuel use in buildings by going all electric for systems such as space and water heating. It’s a tall order, but OurCounty knows we can get there, targeting net zero carbon for all new buildings by 2025 and for all major renovations by 2045.
- Soak it up
Angelenos understand that water is life. From planting drought tolerant gardens to taking shorter showers, we all do our part to use less water. But water conservation is only one part of the equation – we need to secure a sustainable water supply. Imported water is energy (and $$$) intensive, and it’s vulnerable to disruption during events such as earthquakes. That’s why OurCounty calls for the creation of a local water supply plan that will serve as a roadmap for sourcing 80% of our water supply locally by 2045! From reusing water to capturing stormwater, we’ve got to cherish every last drop. Stay hydrated, friends
- Stay rooted
It’s true, our palm trees are #iconic. But they don’t provide much shade on hot days! We need to increase the urban tree canopy for our region, especially in disadvantaged communities that have disproportionately fewer trees and green spaces. The right trees – ones that are native or adapted to our region – don’t only provide shade, they also contribute to healthier soils, increased biodiversity, and greater community health and well-being. OurCounty will increase our urban tree canopy cover, especially in the communities that need it most, and start the process of creating an Urban Forest Management Plan for all of the ways trees can make our County a better place. Now that’s a green idea!
- Equity in all
We love how big, beautiful, and diverse LA County is, but we know it’s not perfect. Infusing equity means owning up to the ways that we have fallen short and failed communities of color for generations. Historic, systemic, and institutional policies – some of which continue to this day – have led to disproportionate environmental burdens for these communities, causing higher rates of asthma, higher infant mortality, decreased life expectancy, and other poor health outcomes. To address this, OurCounty is committed to an equitable, inclusive process of ongoing partnership and engagement with communities of color and disadvantaged communities. To ensure that the benefits of the plan go first to the communities that need them most, we must seek out and listen to community experts, those whose lived experiences shine a light on the gap between what the County is and what we could be.
- For the birds
…and the bees, and the coyotes, and the oak trees! Our region is the most urbanized area to be designated one of Conservation International’s global Biodiversity Hotspots – and OurCounty wants to protect what we’ve got! But first, a role call: we need to complete a Countywide Biodiversity Index for a clear snapshot of our native flora and fauna. On top of that, actions like protecting wildlife corridors and making urban ecology a part of municipal initiatives will help us live up to our hotspot status. P-22 (your friendly neighborhood mountain lion) will thank you for it!
- Quitting fossil fuels
Adios, fossil fuels. OurCounty Goal #7 couldn’t be clearer: our vision is a fossil fuel-free LA County. To do it, we’ll need a zero-carbon energy system and a zero-emission transportation system, and we’ll need to phase out fossil fuel drilling, extraction, and refining. Not only will this help us meet the County’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, it will also mean all of us can breathe a little easier with cleaner air, soil, and water – especially those living in frontline communities near freeways and industrial sites. And, it means focusing on a just transition for workers who depend on jobs related to fossil fuel – we can’t leave anyone behind in our transition to an inclusive green economy.
- Walking in LA
We’ll admit, we have a bit of a reputation. The average LA county resident drives a car more than 20 miles every day. But Angelenos “in the know” know that there are lots of other ways to get around LA. From bikes and buses to e-scooters and well, whatever else comes next, OurCounty wants to make it safer and more convenient to ditch the car – and the traffic jam. Innovative strategies include free transportation passes for young people, older adults, people of all abilities, and low-income populations; infrastructure improvements to protect the comfort and safety of people who bike and people who walk; and transit-oriented development to help people live near high-quality transit. The result? Reduce the average daily vehicle miles traveled to just 10, with at least 50% of all trips taken by foot, bike, micromobility option like e-scooter, or public transit.
- Waste not
You know the drill – reduce, reuse, recycle! You’re doing your part with canvas grocery bags and reusable water bottles – now OurCounty wants to take it to the next level! The plan calls for strategies like phasing out single-use plastics – think take-out containers and food packaging – and scaling up our capacity for composting organic wastes. By tackling every part of the waste stream, from the boba straw to the banana peel, we’re going to reduce waste sent to landfill by 95% by the year 2045. Less trash = fewer greenhouse gas emissions + cleaner rivers and beaches. We don’t even have time to waste!
- Good eats
Why do people flock to LA? It’s not just the sunshine and the celebrities – it’s the food! Taco trucks, Korean BBQ, Sunday dim sum – everybody has their favorite. But we don’t all have the same access to affordable, healthy, and sustainably produced food. Food insecurity is high across much of the County, yet less than 70% of eligible LA County households are enrolled to receive food assistance benefits such as CalFresh/SNAP, and only 63% of our farmers’ markets are equipped to accept such benefits. OurCounty aims to make access to food more equitable by increasing enrollment of eligible households in CalFresh/SNAP to 100% and equipping 100% of farmers markets to accept benefits. We’re also calling for solutions like increasing community food gardens and food donation and distribution programs – it’s all hands on deck to feed LA County!
There’s a lot to #OurCountyLA, clearly. But, we’re committed to making sure we see it through. Make sure to check back here for progress updates and nerd out on the data as we keep things updated.