Senate leaders, Mayor Garcetti, outline permanent state funding for mass transit, greenhouse gas reductions

June 06, 2014

Senate Democratic long-term investment plan for clean infrastructure promises smart growth and jobs, to meet California’s landmark climate goals

(Sacramento, CA) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento) and State Senator Kevin de León (D – Los Angeles) at a downtown press conference in Los Angeles this morning to present a long-term investment strategy that would further California’s pursuit of its landmark greenhouse gas reduction goals. The investment strategy, available here, dedicates a permanent source of funding for mass transit and transit-oriented development, offers a catalyst for job-creation as California’s economy continues its recovery.

“The single largest contributor of greenhouse gases in California is the transportation sector and Californians are logging more vehicle miles annually than ever before. We’re on track to break the 400 billion miles barrier by 2020,” Senator Steinberg said. “Building new mass transit options near homes and commerce will dramatically reduce emissions and implementing this long-term strategy would be a huge victory for our environment, our economy, and the people of Los Angeles.”

Under AB 32 of 2006, California created the nation’s first benchmark for greenhouse gas emission reductions and from it, the Cap-and-Trade program that allows companies to sell unused emissions to the biggest polluters. Cap and Trade has helped put California on course to meet its Climate Goals for 2020 but there is no long-term strategy to reinvest the revenues that could total between three and five-billion dollars every year.

“This is smart legislation that would spend Cap and Trade funding where it naturally should be spent – on reducing pollution and improving the health of our neighborhoods and our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Cities are where we work, where we live, but they’re also where we pollute, so addressing the needs of cities like Los Angeles is critical in tackling climate change.”

The press conference was held at LA Metro’s Division 13 Facility, a LEED Gold goal project currently under construction and designed to accommodate a fleet of 200 clean energy buses. The facility is one example of a project that could be eligible for a significant infusion of state funds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Senate Democratic proposal to direct Cap and Trade auction revenues over the long term.

Focusing on transit solutions, Senator De León remarked, “Action is long overdue, but California is preparing to lead the nation in fighting climate change, and where better to start than right here in Los Angeles.”

Mass transit and affordable homes in transit-oriented communities, both key to achieving the goals of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32 of 2006), are already facing a catastrophic funding crisis. The strategy ensures that California’s suite of climate policies, taken as a whole, provide a net benefit to disadvantaged and low-income communities as California reduces greenhouse gas emissions, goals that were heavily-endorsed by voters with their rejection of Proposition 23 in 2010. The proposed strategy also identifies funding for green infrastructure projects, clean-vehicle programs, and seed funds to assist clean projects, and rebates for consumers.

Mass Transit
California’s road users are collectively on course to travel at least 1.1 billion miles daily by 2020, an increase of over 100 million miles travelled daily over the next six years. The proposal commits a permanent source of funding for mass transit and develop 21st Century infrastructure for California to reduce traffic and their polluting emissions.

Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association said, “Senator Steinberg’s plan builds upon the foundation laid by Governor Brown, by confirming that public transit is not simply a discretionary service; it is essential – and becoming increasingly more vital to the health and well-being of our state.”

Smart Growth
The strategy proposes investments in affordable housing be centered in sustainable communities. Illustrated by MacArthur Plaza in Oakland, California, mixed-use transit-oriented developments are designed to reduce vehicle miles travelled by bringing together residential, commercial, and transit infrastructure.

A dedicated funding program for smart growth development near transit would be a game changer for BART and what it can accomplish to improve the quality of life in the Bay Area,” said Joel Keller, Board President at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). “Having funds to revitalize areas around our stations, such us our planned Transit Oriented Development project adjacent to the MacArthur BART Station in Oakland, will help encourage a transit first lifestyle affordable to all residents.”

Tens of Thousands of New Jobs
A standard assessment used by Federal and State government projects that for every $1 billion invested in transportation projects, 17,000 jobs are created. Conversely, a study by the Economic Development Research Corporation projects that congestion threatens 480,000 jobs representing $32 billion per year in income by 2040.

“Senator Steinberg's proposed investments will lead to cleaner, healthier communities. These are also investments in equity so that Californians at all economic levels will benefit” said Tom Adams, an environmental activist and retired environmental lawyer, adding “Under Senator Steinberg's proposals, California will set another milestone for global leadership on clean energy and climate. Over at the circus of the climate deniers the carnival barkers say climate policy will result in hardship. Senator Steinberg, on the other hand, is showing that sound climate policy means rebuilding our cities, creating jobs, improving transportation and increasing social equity.”