Mayor’s Green New Deal calls on Angelenos to drive 6 fewer miles every day

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a “Green New Deal” initiative on Monday that includes a goal to reduce the amount of driving in LA by nearly 50 percent in the next three decades.

To meet that goal, many Angelenos will have to change the way they move around the city. By 2035, the mayor’s plan calls for at least half of all trips in LA to be made outside a personal automobile.

“With flames on our hillsides and floods in our streets, cities cannot wait another moment to confront the climate crisis with everything we’ve got,” Garcetti said in a statement Monday.

Right now, LA drivers journey an average of 15 miles per capita per day, according to a report on the initiative released Monday. That amounts to nearly 60 million miles driven per day within city limits.

Under Garcetti’s proposal, that would come down at least 13 percent by 2025 and 45 percent by 2050—a difference of more than 25 million miles each day, or 6.75 miles per person, should LA’s population stay relatively constant during that time.

Today, just 14 percent of trips within the city are made by walking, biking, transit, or another non-car-based form of transportation, according to figures cited in the report.

The mayor’s strategies to reduce car trips include a number of safety improvements and streetscape projects already in the works. They also include his continued support of an initiative to complete 28 major transportation projects by 2028 and Metro’s efforts to try out a congestion pricing system in Los Angeles.

Juan Matute, deputy director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, tells Curbed the mayor’s goals are admirable—but won’t be easy to attain.

Garcetti’s plan calls for a 39 percent reduction in miles driven by 2035.

“Nothing that’s listed here will produce more than a 5 percent reduction,” he says. “It probably won’t bring them anything.”

Changing the way Angelenos move across the city would require significant investment in infrastructure to support more walkers, cyclists, and users of scooters and other mobility devices, he says.

The mayor’s plan also calls for a reduction in the number of conventional gas-powered cars on LA’s streets and freeways. By 2035—more than a decade after he’ll leave office—Garcetti aims to ensure 80 percent of motor vehicles driven in LA are electric.

To do that, the mayor is calling for a host of incentives for purchasers of electric automobiles and chargers. Also planned are 10,000 publicly available chargers to be installed around the city by 2028.

The mayor’s proposals aren’t limited to transportation. Garcetti’s plan also calls for new commitments to drawing water and power from local, renewable sources. In planning for future growth, the initiative includes goals mandating new buildings be carbon neutral and that housing be constructed close to transit stops.

Modeled after the national Green New Deal resolution, introduced in Congress by by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, Garcetti’s plan has already drawn criticism from the local chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a key advocate of the national measure.

In a Medium post, Sunrise LA argued that the goals laid out in the plan aren’t ambitious enough to meaningfully counteract predicted effects of climate change after 2030.

“With Mayor Garcetti’s current plan for net-zero emissions by 2050, Los Angeles is on track to be twenty years too late,” says the organization. “That is not a Green New Deal.”

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