Monthly Archive: June 2017

Calif. Mayors Sign Zero Emissions Pact for Ports

The Port of Los Angeles (Credit: Wknight94)

Since President Trump announced that the U.S. would exit the Paris Agreement, the so-called “climate mayors” have sent him yet another open letter, taken to Twitter to express their disapproval and reaffirmed their cities’ commitments to renewable energy. Now, two Southern California leaders have signed a regional declaration with national implications, setting yet another precedent for pledging two degrees at the local level.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia signed an agreement Monday directing the country’s largest port complex to “reduce air pollution by moving toward zero emission trucks and yard equipment,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The document sets deadlines of 2030 and 2035 for zero emissions cargo-handling equipment and on-road drayage trucks.

According to the agreement, the ports’ existing Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) “has led to dramatic emission reductions and substantial improvement in health risk since 2005, all while trade volume has increased by 10 [percent].” However, “the goods movement system around the port remains a major contributor to air pollution in the region.” Diesel pollution from trucks, cargo ships and locomotives makes the complex the largest single source of smog-forming pollution in Southern California.

At a press conference Garcetti called the targets “brave new territory” because zero emission technology for the heavy-duty equipment used by the ports is, in some cases, not widely available.

“But if we don’t keep pushing, if we don’t have those goals we’ll never get there,” he said, according to the Times.

The pre-emptive nature of the regulations worried goods movement industry groups, however.

“We need to make sure there are commercially available and viable technologies before we set hard deadlines,” Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, told the paper.

In January, Garcetti was one of four mayors — along with Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland and Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle — who released a joint RFI in pursuit of an electrified vehicle fleet. In that case, as well, city officials weren’t necessarily pursuing widely-available existing technologies, but hoping to use their joint buying power to hurry the market along.

“Our cities know we can’t fight climate change alone, and by banding together we can do our part to accelerate marketplace transformation and bring greater efficiencies that will benefit our taxpayers and impacted neighborhoods,” Mayor Ed Lee said then in a release.

DS+R breaks ground in china on the juilliard school’s first overseas campus

located in tianjin’s yujiapu pilot free trade zone, the venue will be a center for performance, practice, and research, as well as interactive exhibitions.

The post DS+R breaks ground in china on the juilliard school’s first overseas campus appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.

New Design Guide Offers Stormwater Solutions

(AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

From New York to Charlestown, South Carolina, to Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to Atlanta, cities and towns all over the U.S. are trying to figure out better ways to manage stormwater. Climate change impacts, including more frequent and intense storms and extreme flooding events, are stressing existing stormwater infrastructure leading to backups, flooding and increased pollution runoff.

Rather than investing in expensive upgrades to their grey infrastructure — traditional pipes, tanks, water treatment plants — many of the above cities are experimenting with green infrastructure such as permeable soils, plants, bioswales and retention ponds that filter pollutants out and release water back into aquifers.

“The conventional method is to just convey stormwater off the street and into sewers and treatment plants. It’s very expensive and separates water from natural ecology. Sustainable stormwater infrastructure wants to capture and re-use the water,” says Corinne Kisner, director of policy at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

Kisner co-authored NACTO’s new Urban Street Stormwater Guide. In it, NACTO makes the case that green stormwater infrastructure can be combined with transportation infrastructure projects to help cities meet their stormwater management goals, save money and, in some cases, make streets safer for walking and biking. The book looks at case studies from cities around the U.S. and provides guidance for building green stormwater infrastructure in transportation corridors.

Stormwater management is new territory for NACTO, which has previously published design guides for urban streets with transit and bikeways, but Kisner argues it’s a logical step.

“Given the amount of space streets take up in cities and the fact that streets create a ton of impervious surface space, they are an opportunity to make big changes in a city’s ecological impact,” she explains.

The guide provides a variety of green stormwater infrastructure designs for cities to implement, from major capital projects to low-cost neighborhood intersection treatments.

When St. Paul, Minnesota, built an 11-mile, $957 million light rail extension, it included $5 million in green stormwater infrastructure to reduce runoff and improve water quality. They used rain gardens, bio-retention planters, permeable paver stones and tree trenches. The green infrastructure mitigates approximately 50 percent of stormwater runoff, easing the burden on the traditional sewer system.

On the other end of size spectrum, the guide looks at a $420,000 intersection project in Philadelphia. The city eliminated a slip lane that enabled high-speed right hand turns from Stenton Avenue to East Washington Lane. In its place, they built a rain garden that reduces the amount of impermeable asphalt. “It’s more enjoyable to walk because the garden is nice to look at. It’s safer because the crossing distances are shorter,” says Kisner.

The guide has suggestions for permeable pavement applications, using rain gardens as barriers for protected bike lanes and curb bulb outs, replacing center medians with bioswales, installing bioswales on sidewalks and around bike-share stations and more.

“Cities have very limited street space,” Kisner says. “Green stormwater infrastructure helps find ways to integrate everything a city wants within same physical street space.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, NACTO says funding and the need for cross-departmental collaboration are two of the biggest challenges for cities interested in green stormwater infrastructure experiments. The city staff working on transportation is rarely in the same department as staff dealing with stormwater. Solving the latter problem can actually help the former, however.

In many of the guide’s case studies, cities were able to access stormwater and transportation grants for the same project.

“Part of what our guidebook steering committee got excited about was the opportunity to leverage one project with another and leverage transportation funding with stormwater funding for to get a better project over all,” says Kisner.

She continues, “Cities are recognizing that climate change is among our most urgent issue and looking to make a difference with climate mitigation. Changing how we move around city is important for mitigating greenhouse gas. Changing stormwater infrastructure is important for mitigating climate impacts.”

San Diego Hopes Two New Tools Will Curb Homelessness Crisis

Some homeless people live in tents and makeshift housing in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

On Monday, San Diego’s City Council dealt a blow to Mayor Kevin Faulconer after voting 5-4 against bringing a higher hotel tax to a public vote. The move, supported by Faulconer, would have brought in an additional $10 million annually toward reducing the city’s deepening homelessness crisis. The defeat hasn’t shaken all advocates, amid reports that Faulconer’s office didn’t have a concrete spending plan for that total.

Instead, people working on homelessness in the city are betting high on two new developments: a little help from a national private firm, and new rules for accessing grant money that the city hopes will — finally — unify its many but fragmented homelessness champions.

That private firm, Focus Strategies, has worked with governments in 45 communities across the United States, including San Francisco, Seattle and cities in Silicon Valley, to tackle homelessness. In San Diego, a city that ranked fourth among U.S. metro areas with the highest homeless populations in 2015, the firm will interview nonprofit reps and city leaders across the region to build out a major plan set for debut in 2018.

It won’t be San Diego’s first framework — in 1997 the county offered up just over three pages of a homelessness policy — but it’ll be bigger than any previous pursuit. And following stark numbers from a federally mandated homelessness count at the start of 2017, city officials and nonprofits alike are recognizing that they can’t keep doing what they’ve always done before.

This year San Diego County cited a 68 percent increase in the number of people living on the street since 2007, amounting to a total of 5,621. Unsheltered chronically homeless individuals, or those living outdoors for more than a year who also have mental or physical disabilities, numbered 1,750 — a 148 percent spike from a decade ago.

At the city level, Downtown San Diego alone saw a homeless population jump of 27 percent just between 2016 and 2017. The entire city saw a spike of 10 percent from 2016, although the current number of people living on the streets was 2 percent less than what it was in 2012. Seventy-seven percent of those interviewed in 2017 became homeless while living in San Diego.

Christopher Ward, a city council member who’s part of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness and a city-funded homelessness committee created last month, says one recent success has been a 9 percent drop in the number of homeless veterans since 2016, and a 29 percent total drop in that population since 2012. That’s largely because of efforts like the Housing Our Heroes Initiative, which put $12.5 million in city, federal and San Diego Housing Commission funds toward getting landlords to offer city center apartments to veterans at below-market rates.

But getting all the organizations on the same page to address the other facets of homelessness hasn’t been as easy. “It’s like trying to turn an aircraft carrier,” says Ward. He estimates there are upward of 80 local nonprofits working on the issue throughout the region.

“Twelve months ago we had no political leadership or concerted effort to really take the reins of this or start calling the shots,” he says. Now — and for the first time ever — San Diego is seeing “an unprecedented coordination between all government, regional and nonprofit organizations.”

Part of that has to do with the growth of a major tool called the Homelessness Management Information System, and a new requirement that essentially makes its use mandatory for organizations in San Diego. When homeless individuals walk through the door at a housing facility or service provider, managers can now access their history in the county to see what services they’ve taken advantage of in the past, or who their case worker is. (As of last year, the San Diego Police Department was also given access to this database.)

The system’s been in development in San Diego over the past decade, but going forward, service providers will be required to communicate and coordinate through the it if they want to qualify for grants or funding. “For those that don’t, or kind of want to do their own model — they’re going to become more and more the minority, and realize they’re going to have to change their model,” says Ward.

Michael McConnell, a homelessness advocate in the city, is optimistic about the new changes. He says what grabs most of the attention are the tarps and camping tents that line sidewalks in areas like the East Village, where a portion of the 5,621 unsheltered individuals registered throughout the county live.

Yet their homelessness management system is tracking over 17,000 people.

“They’re not all substance abusers or people with mental health issues,” says McConnell. “They’re living in their cars, or really just in need of a job or affordable housing to get out of homelessness.”

Focus Strategies will also be fundraising to help the city embrace more permanent housing solutions over short-term stays. According to Voice of San Diego, the city has a greater quantity of transitional housing units than the 20 most populated metro areas in the U.S., even as that model continues to fall out of favor with homelessness experts, and cities that embrace permanent housing as the first step to escape homelessness, like Washington, D.C., and Salt Lake City, are seeing results.

San Diego’s initial embrace of this model, called Housing First, was a three-year campaign that ran between 2014 and 2017. It put $30 million in front of the nonprofits responsible for housing successes in the veteran community, and led to the creation of 407 permanent supportive housing units throughout the county.

But McConnell and other San Diego residents want cash injections like that to be more impactful; those 407 units would help just over 7 percent of the region’s current homeless. They’re hoping outside help and a new approach to the homelessness management system can bring on a plan that assists everyone.

“It does seem like [Focus Strategies] is trying a more holistic approach,” he says. “But as anyone knows, it’s implementation. Anyone can write a plan, but that plan isn’t worth anything unless it implements a change.”

Show apartments open in the 1930s Wallis, Gilbert and Partners-designed art deco Hoover Building in Perivale, west London

This was our most popular property find of 2016 before it was even built. So show apartments open in the 1930s Wallis, Gilbert and Partners-designed art deco Hoover Building in Perivale, west London should prove popular. A s you probably know, the building is Grade II* listed and an art deco icon from its days […]