GELFAND’S WORLD--While smaller cities such as Baltimore and Seattle were constructing tourist attractions to complement their harbors, the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) concentrated on developing itself as a working port. POLA and its adjacent Port of Long Beach became the leading traders in American overseas shipping.

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HOW WE LIVE--Californians now have a better tool to track where the billions of dollars being collected through the state’s cap-and-trade program are being invested in their communities. An updated online map from TransForm, a transportation and walkability advocacy group, tallies projects receiving funding through the program, and their estimated greenhouse gas reductions.

California sets a legally enforceable limit on the amount of CO2 industry can emit, requiring businesses releasing more than 25,000 tons a year to get permits from the state. The state’s revenues from the permits are then invested in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), which supports projects to further reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The new TransForm map tracks these projects: 412 so far, representing over $1.5 billion in investment, and just over 3 million megatons of greenhouse gas reduction. Money has gone to the state’s high-speed rail project, wetland restoration, more efficient farmland irrigation, the expansion of urban canopy and more.

A less obvious use of the funds with immediate benefits for individuals and communities is the construction of affordable housing close to public transportation. These projects both reduce households’ reliance on private vehicles and help more individuals weather California’s affordability crisis.

To date, over $150 million from the GGRF has been utilized to build affordable, transit-oriented development. A 2014 report estimated that developing 15,000 such units could prevent 105,000,000 miles of vehicle travel every year.

According to the report, lower-income households living within a half mile of transit drove 25 to 30 percent fewer miles than those living in non-transit-oriented development; those living a quarter mile or less from transit drove almost 50 percent less.

By contrast, higher-income households drove more than twice as many miles and owned more than twice as many vehicles as extremely low-income households living within a quarter mile of transit. The report suggests that while demand is booming for luxury condos close to public transportation, carbon reduction goals will be best met by preserving some of that housing as affordable.

In addition to the mapping tool, TransForm released a video this week, co-produced with the Greenlining Institute, that tells the story of one resident in a new GGRF development. Esther Robert and her children live close to transit in West Sacramento. Without it, she says in the video, “I would probably be living with all of us in a studio apartment in some place I don’t want to be, just because that’s the only place I could afford to keep something over my head.”

Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez said in a statement, “California’s climate investments are improving people’s lives … . We’re not just tackling climate change, we’re bringing real help to communities that have historically been left out of economic prosperity or saddled with the worst pollution: affordable homes like Esther’s, better transportation choices, cost-cutting home weatherization, and much more.”

(Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Satellite Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. See her work at jakinney.com. This piece originated at NextCity.)  Photo by El Cobrador, via Flickr.


POLITICS--Are both political parties collapsing in California?

Over the past few years the release of Secretary of State data showing a drop in Republican registration has become a routine news story in California.

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VOX POP--Koreatown community leaders gave Jill Stewart, campaign director for the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a tour of the site where a Beverly Hills developer is seeking to build a 27-story luxury housing project abutting low-rise apartments and on streets that can’t handle the traffic of a mega-project.  (Photo above.)

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THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-A 300-page analysis of shootings by Los Angeles police released by LAPD officials Tuesday concluded that over a third of those shot had documented signs of mental illness. LAPD’s Chief Charlie Beck states the report will serve as a framework for the Police Commission to discuss how the police use force. 

In 2015, encounters where LA police used forced accounted for about 2,000 of the 1.5 million contacts police made that year. Of the 38 shootings by police last year, 14 were documented as mentally ill and of the 1,900 incidences that involved police use of Tasers, bean-bag guns, and other devices, about a quarter involved mentally ill people. 

The frequency of in-custody deaths also tripled, from 4 in 2014 to 12 last year. About half of these incidents involved someone deemed to be under the influence of drugs. 

One year ago, an officer fatally shot Charly “Africa” Keunang, a homeless man, on Skid row, when Keunang grabbed the rookie officer’s holstered gun. Keunang’s record had included time in a prison psychiatric hospital. Activists attended Tuesday’s commission meeting to protest that incident, along with another fatal shooting of a homeless man by an officer near Venice boardwalk. 

The nexus of law enforcement, prison, and mental illness is a serious issue, not only in Southern California but throughout the U.S. The number of mentally ill inmates in prisons is growing and many others are embroiled in the court system.

At the Federal level, authorities are turning up the heat on LA County Supervisors to improve the situation for inmates who are mentally ill; and LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey is investigating how to divert the mentally ill from the criminal justice system. 

Part of the solution involves training officers to manage situations with suspects who may be mentally ill or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as being homeless. LAPD is already making some headway, having rolled out de-escalation training last year. Tasers are now required for all officers and bean-bag shotguns will be kept in the front of patrol cars rather than in the trunk. 

Assistant Chief Michel Moore shares, “At the end of the day, the instances in which we use force … is extremely rare. But at the same time, each incident is one too many if it can be avoided.” 

Continued efforts in training and in the way we handle the mentally ill in the justice system should help. 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles-based writer and writes for CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

HERE’S WHAT I KNOW-Since 2000, the cost of housing in Los Angeles has outpaced income growth by four times. Conventional financial advice suggests spending no more than a third of a monthly paycheck on rent or mortgage payment but more than half of Southern Californians spend over 30% on housing, leaving many Angelenos cash-strapped for food, healthcare, transportation, and savings. 

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ENVIRONMENTAL NIGHTMARE-According to a peer-reviewed study just published in the journal Science, the nearly four-month leak released roughly 100,000 tons of methane -- effectively doubling the methane emissions rate of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Southern California Gas Co. said it stopped the leak earlier this month. State Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources engineers confirmed the leak was halted last week. 

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ANIMAL WATCH-GM Brenda Barnette advised the Animal Services Commission that her ‘executive management team’ met with the City Administrative Officer’s Budget Committee to discuss her most important priority items for the department’s 2016-17 budget.

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