DT: February 2, 2010
TO: GREEN LA participating organizations
FR: Stephanie Taylor
RE: City of Los Angeles eliminating Environmental Affairs Department
Preserve LA City's climate and sustainability programs
Yesterday the Budget & Finance Committee heard the city's Chief Administrative Officer recommending the elimination of the Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) in their MID-YEAR FINANCIAL STATUS REPORT AND THREE-YEAR PLAN TO FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY
The committee response to the CAO's recommendation was mixed. Rosendahl and Koretz stood up for the Environment Affairs Department, expressing strong concerns about the City's ability to stay focused on their environmental agenda.
The meeting went well past midnight. EAD staff testified around 9 pm. Green LA staff and members as well as the Environmental Affairs Commissioners testified in the afternoon.
What you can do:
1) Testify at Council TOMORROW, Wednesday, February 3rd
City Council Chambers, Room 340, LA City Hall at 10 am.
City Council will hear the report tomorrow Wednesday, FEBRUARY 3 at 10:00 am, and vote on this matter.
2) Send a letter and/or email voicing your concerns.
- We have attached a sample letter.
- Some suggested talking points:
- Stop the brain drain. Preserve key staff involved in climate and sustainability planning by keeping them together.
- Keep the environmental affairs commissioners to serve as green panel advisors.
3) Circulate this action alert to your members and other interested parties.
The report recommends complete dissolution of the Department; staff cuts will immediately terminate a quarter of the department's staff -- while those remaining would be transferred to other departments including Transportation, Planning and the Community Development Department.
GREEN LA is not seeking to preserve the Environmental Affairs Department as it currently exists. We understand the profoundly dire economic crisis facing the city.
We are aghast at the likely dissolution of key staff performing essential environmental functions. The City may soon lose the personnel that:
- Perform LA's greenhouse gas inventory
- Organize the City's climate action plan
- Develop the City's Sustain LA plan
- Oversee the Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant to the city ($37 million in stimulus funds are in jeopardy)
- Administer the city's Green Business Certification program
- Engage in regional and statewide climate modeling and planning
- Respond to environmental emergencies
- Advise city departments on toxic cleanup
- Enforce cleanup standards at Sunshine Canyon Landfill and other polluted sites
We fear a terrible brain drain, dispersing staff to various departments, will result in abandoning crucial projects. America's second largest city may soon be without staff-skilled in climate and sustainability planning.
The lack of transparency of this significant restructuring of environmental programs is also troubling. No environmental groups were consulted in the development of this policy, nor has ample time given to evaluate the CAO's proposal.
There may be a way to salvage this devastating setback. GREEN LA believes this may be an opportunity to make the City's environmental programs stronger.
GREEN LA staff believes the that the remaining EAD staff should move en masse to the Planning Department. THIS PROPOSAL HAS THE SUPPORT OF BOTH EAD AND PLANNING LEADERSHIP.
Then climate and sustainability goals could be integrated into all city planning; a fitting home for environmental activities as plans need to be created to comply with AB32 and SB375.
In addition, Environmental Affairs commissioners could be asked to spearhead a Green Ribbon panel on the environment. We should continue to take advantage of the leadership on the commission.
Interim Managing Project Director
Green LA Coalition
(213) 346-3284 – ph
(323) 898-7785 – cell