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LA County adopts nation’s most ambitious regional sustainability plan

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today unanimously adopted the OurCounty Sustainability Plan, the boldest, most comprehensive regional approach to sustainability ever issued by a county in the United States.

The plan, drafted over the course of two years with the help of nearly 1,000 community and expert stakeholders from every part of the County, sets forth an ambitious agenda that promises to transform the region in the years and decades ahead.

Recognizing the urgency of existing regional challenges and the climate crisis, the plan aims to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement by creating a fossil-fuel free Los Angeles County within the next three decades. It includes nearly 160 health-focused strategies centering on communities that have been disproportionately affected by environmental pollution for decades.

“At its heart, this plan is both a call to action and a commitment to future generations,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who, with Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, sponsored the motion to create the County’s Chief Sustainability Office, which led to development of the plan.

“This is our unequivocal statement that climate change is real, and that our County will not stand around waiting for the federal government to wake up and create the policies and programs needed to address it. By taking this leadership role, we are positioning the County to move our region into a greener future and advance the effort to reverse global warming,” Kuehl said.

“Our most marginalized communities have suffered the brunt of impacts from pollution and greenhouse gas emissions for far too long. Today is a new beginning for a sustainable L.A. County,” Solis said. “This plan takes a bold and broad approach to making the County not only more sustainable, but it will also expand economic mobility and improve health outcomes for workers, families and all County residents. We will work with our cities and other partners to implement these goals so that we may realize a more equitable L.A. County for current and future generations.”

“The OurCounty Sustainability Plan charts a path forward to not only confront climate change and pollution, but to do so in ways that also address other challenges, like traffic, the housing affordability crisis, and longstanding inequality,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn. “We don’t have to choose between clean air and good jobs, or between investing in a greener economy and an economy that works for everyone, or even between preserving local ecosystems and building abundant housing that our residents can afford. These false choices force us to think small when the real solutions are so much bigger.”

“This Sustainability Plan takes a strategic approach to improving the health and quality of life in communities across Los Angeles County,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “The demand for more affordable housing, well-paying jobs, healthier living, and clean and green transportation are all intertwined. Collectively, we must pursue bold and holistic strategies if we are serious about prioritizing the sustainability of our region.”

Unlike other sustainability plans, the OurCounty plan is unique in its regional focus as it moves to confront a wide range of environmental, social and economic challenges.

Overall, OurCounty proposes to make Los Angeles County a more equitable, prosperous and resilient region in the years ahead. The plan’s goals and milestones include:

  • Powering unincorporated areas and County facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025

  • Increasing urban tree canopy coverage by 15% by 2035

  • Diverting more than 95% of waste from landfills

  • Developing land-use tools to limit new development in high climate-hazard areas

  • Phasing out single-use plastic by 2025 to ensure a cleaner ocean and less landfill waste

  • Cutting back on imported water by sourcing 80 percent of water locally by 2045

  • Ensuring that all residents have safe and clean drinking water, and that rivers, lakes and the ocean meet federal water quality standards

  • Leading efforts to make sure that at least 65% of new housing is built within 1/2 mile of high frequency transit by 2035

  • Supporting construction of more than half a million affordable housing units by 2045 to improve public health and community sustainability

The County will not be making these changes alone, but in concert with the region’s cities and residents.

“Our future depends not just on the County’s actions, but also on the 88 cities of Los Angeles County stepping up to the plate to collectively help achieve the strategic plan’s vision for sustainability,” said Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai. “We look forward to building and growing these partnerships as we work toward common goals on behalf of all the communities we serve.”

Gary Gero, the County’s Chief Sustainability Officer, credited the many groups and individuals who brought unique perspectives to the plan.

“Before a word of the plan was written, we undertook an in-depth public engagement process that recruited groups who do not typically focus on environmental issues to fully participate as architects of the plan,” Gero said. “The results were remarkable, and we are so grateful to all who participated. As a result of their efforts, Los Angeles County will be guided by an equity-centered document with nearly all the content born out of community ideas about what a sustainable region should be.”

The County’s Chief Sustainability Office is charged with overseeing implementation of the plan and will report annually on progress. Keep up with the progress or download a copy of the plan here.

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