Will China’s new recycling standards mean higher taxes in California?

RecyclingDo you know where your recyclables go when they leave your blue bin?

Would you believe China?

But that’s about to change. In July, China notified the World Trade Organization that on Jan. 1 it will impose much stricter quality standards and will turn away shipments that don’t make the grade. In recycling, quality refers to how much non-recyclable material is mixed in with the recyclables. Anything non-recyclable is a “contaminant” that has to be removed in a sorting process. The stricter the standard, the slower and more costly the processing.

Recyclables are sold like any other commodity. Prices fluctuate according to demand. In order for recycling to be financially sustainable, the value of the recyclables has to exceed the cost of picking up the stuff, sorting it, shipping it, and recycling it into something that can be sold and shipped to someone who can use it.

In 2016, California shipped recyclables with a value of $21 million by air to Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. Trash worth $108 million went by rail or truck to Mexico. But $4.6 billion worth of recyclables, 15 million tons, were shipped out from California’s ports. By far the greatest share of our recyclables, 62 percent, went to China.

Seaborne exports of all commodities from California ports in 2016 totaled 63 million tons, with a vessel value of more than $89 billion. Recyclable material accounted for 24 percent of the commodities exports by weight, 5 percent by value.

Some garbage is worth more than other garbage. Mixed paper, cardboard and paperboard made up 59 percent of the weight, but ferrous and non-ferrous metals accounted for 62 percent of the value.

CalRecycle, the state agency in charge of tracking these things, doesn’t know exactly how much of the garbage on the ships originated in California, and it doesn’t have precise numbers for local jurisdictions – reporting is supposed to start in 2019 – but Californians generated an estimated 76.5 million tons of waste material in 2016. The agency says 42.7 million tons were “disposed,” meaning buried in landfills, and the remaining 33.8 million tons were “source reduced, recycled or composted.” At least a third of the 33.8 million tons was exported to overseas markets.

Last year, according to CalRecycle, the overseas shipping of recyclables created 2.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

In 2011, California adopted a law that set a statewide goal of 75 percent recycling by 2020. But it’s not happening. CalRecycle reported in August that California’s overall disposal—garbage that goes to landfills—increased in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year.

Why? Some of the factors cited by CalRecycle include “relatively low disposal costs, declines in global scrap values for recyclable commodities, and limited in-state infrastructure.” The agency also blamed “increased consumption” resulting from an improving economy.

That should be good news, but CalRecycle isn’t happy.

“Even as California continues to push towards new and more aggressive recycling targets, CalRecycle has not seen a meaningful decrease in the total amount of disposal since 2009,” the agency lamented.

California’s recycling rate has fallen from 50 percent in 2014 to 47 percent in 2015 to 44 percent in 2016. That’s the lowest rate since the 75 percent goal was established in 2011.

CalRecycle says the only way we’re going to hit the 75 percent target is if more than half of the solid waste that is currently disposed is “source reduced, recycled or composted.”

But how?

In its August report, CalRecycle suggests …

Click here to read the full article by the L.A. Daily News

olumnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”

Did Sacramento break the law in transportation tax rush?

los-angeles-freewaysDid lawmakers break the law when they passed Senate Bill 1, the transportation tax increase?

There’s a quaint provision in the California Constitution that reads, “A person who seeks to influence the vote or action of a member of the Legislature in the member’s legislative capacity by bribery, promise of reward, intimidation, or other dishonest means, or a member of the Legislature so influenced, is guilty of a felony.”

By the time Gov. Jerry Brown finished twisting arms and greasing palms to pass a massive transportation tax hike, that antique language was on the curb like a broken grandfather clock waiting for a bulky-item pickup.

Brown and legislative leaders promised a billion dollars for specific local projects in the districts of wavering lawmakers, and one termed-out Republican senator made a deal for a law to protect people in his profession — civil engineering, not the profession you’re thinking of — from liability in construction lawsuits.

It’s not easy to prove a quid pro quo, Latin meaning “something for something.” People don’t typically leave a written record that says, “I’ll vote for this if you vote for that.”

But one thing is different this time. In November, California voters passed Proposition 54, a measure aimed at guaranteeing transparency in state lawmaking. Prop. 54 says bills must be in print and online in their final form 72 hours before the Legislature votes on them.

The transportation tax increase, SB1, was posted online on April 3. If the Legislature was going to meet its self-imposed deadline to pass the bill on April 6, not one word of it could be changed before the vote.

So all the wheeling, dealing, greasing, and “promise of reward” had to go into a separate bill.

And it did.

SB132 contains a billion dollars of “that” which was negotiated in exchange for a vote on “this.”

Not only is it in writing, there are many statements on the record from lawmakers that their vote for the transportation tax was explicitly tied to a promise from the governor and legislative leaders that the “thats” would be delivered.

Are the deals spelled out in SB132 a violation of the law under Proposition 54? They are effectively amendments to SB1 that were written into a different bill. If that’s legal, then the 72-hour requirement that voters just added to the state constitution has already been thrown to the curb with the rest of the grandfather clocks.

Before the truck comes to pick up the garbage, we should retrieve that language about bribery and reward and see if it applies to outgoing Sen. Anthony Cannella’s deal to condition his vote for SB1 on the passage of SB496, a bill Cannella authored to protect “design professionals,” including civil engineers, from lawsuits stemming from future work. “Anthony is a civil engineer,” Cannella’s official bio states.

Maybe you’re thinking it won’t pass. He was ahead of you. Language was added to the billion-dollar spending bill, SB132, to make it “operative” only if SB496 is enacted.

In addition to the billion dollars of “reward” written into SB132 on April 6, the bill was amended on April 5 to add $1 billion for “augmented employee compensation.”

Yes, another $1 billion of “compensation increases and increases in benefits” for state workers was slipped in while everyone was wondering where the state spent all our transportation taxes.

Talk about being taken for a ride.

Susan Shelley is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”

Ways in Which a Trump Victory Could Benefit California

donald-trump-2On Jan. 20, when Donald Trump takes his hand off the Bible and picks up the phone, he could cause a near-seismic upheaval in California just by changing some federal rules and implementing new policies.

Let me break the news to you gently: it might work out well.

The federal government continuously writes stacks of regulations that cause consumers to pay more for everything than they otherwise would. But because of the length of time between the writing and the paying, it can be hard to recognize the cause and effect.

For example, your bill from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is higher because of federal regulations interpreted by California regulators to prohibit the use of ocean water for cooling power generation plants on the coast. We’re paying billions of dollars to convert three coastal generating plants, a project that began in 2011 and is scheduled to continue for decades. If the new administration modified those regulations, Los Angeles residents could save a small fortune.

If you’ve noticed that food is a lot more expensive, consider that because of federal regulations, the water supply was cut off to California’s breadbasket, the once-prosperous agricultural goldmine of the Central Valley.

Members of Congress from the area have introduced legislation over and over again to adjust federal law to override those regulations. Most recently, the Western Water and American Food Security Act was attached to the bill that funds the Interior Department. But President Obama has threatened a veto, arguing that the regulations are necessary to protect species like the Delta smelt.

The regulations could easily be changed if the new administration chooses to make abundant food production a policy priority over the protection of the smelt.

Other federal regulations have led to arguably impossible targets for further reducing fine particles, like dust and soot, in the air. To meet these goals, state regulators have repeatedly tightened the requirements for new diesel engines, raising the cost of trucking and the price of everything that’s moved by truck. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has even enforced California’s rules on out-of-state trucking firms when state regulators lacked jurisdiction.

Similarly, federal regulations have caused the South Coast Air Quality Management District to write up a new list of proposed tax increases to raise up to $14 billion. The bureaucrats need the money for policies and plans that are required in order to avoid federal sanctions for missing air-quality targets. But under a new administration, there’s an opportunity to take the bureaucracy off auto-pilot and look carefully at what we’re doing to ourselves. Some regulations may no longer be reasonable or necessary, and the cost may not be justified.

Federal rules that discourage the use of coal have made electricity more expensive, raising the cost of living for everyone. The next president’s policies could lower your utility bills.

Policy changes from the new administration will save taxpayers money in other ways, too.

A 2011 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said California paid $1.1 billion in 2009 to incarcerate criminals who were in the country illegally. The cost to Los Angeles County that year was $139 million.

President-elect Trump was criticized by California’s legislative leaders for his plan to immediately deport up to 3 million criminals who are in the country illegally. Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon wrote in a joint letter, “We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.”

But what is the argument for not deporting convicted criminals who are in the country illegally? How does that shred the social fabric or the Constitution?

Maybe California politicians should start working now on how they’re going to explain to voters that they rejected federal funds that could have been used for education, transportation and health care because they wanted to protect criminals who are in the United States without legal authorization.

It’s long past time for California’s leaders to give some thought to the damage caused by policies that have gone unquestioned because their cost didn’t become clear until years later.

From housing to energy to transportation to health care to law enforcement to education, federal policies and regulations have consequences that are sometimes both unintended and disastrous. A new administration is an opportunity to take a fresh look at everything.

It might just work out well, even for California.

And here’s the punchline: By 2018, the state’s Democratic politicians will be taking credit for it.

Susan Shelley is a columnist for the Southern California News Group. Reach her at Susan@SusanShelley.com and follow her on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.

This piece was originally published by the L.A. Daily News

L.A. Ballot Measures Act Like Pickpockets

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

On Nov. 8, voters in Los Angeles will be asked to vote on seven measures that look innocent but take money right out of your pocket. It’s like being governed by the original Broadway cast of “Oliver.”

The show featured a gang of singing pickpockets, if you’ve never seen it.

L.A. County Measure A is a hike in property taxes to replace the funding from two expiring temporary taxes for parks. Because a temporary tax is a mythical creature, Measure A would levy a property tax of 1.5 cents per square foot of every building every year. The tax would hit businesses and apartment building owners especially hard, leading to higher prices and higher rents, and it’s permanent.

Measure M is a permanent one-half percent sales tax increase for what the county calls a “traffic improvement plan.” It would be the fourth one-half percent sales tax increase since 1980 for transportation. The third one, Measure R, was temporary, but Measure M would make it permanent.

Metro has a detailed plan on its website that shows all the projects Measure M will fund, but many of them count on the highly uncertain availability of billions of dollars in state or federal money. Some sound like outright fantasy. Valley voters are promised a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, someday. It will do wonders to speed up the commute from Shangri-La to Brigadoon.

Now the bad news about Measure M: there are no guarantees that any of the promised projects will happen. Anything can be changed with a two-thirds vote of the Metro board of directors. And in the meantime, proposed mega-developments of housing or retail that are within one-half mile of a “planned” major transit stop qualify for streamlined approvals with no studies of the projects’ impact on traffic speed or parking, even if the nearby transit is only a watercolor illustration.

The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees would like voters to authorize another $3.3 billion of borrowed money for more buildings, following the $6 billion the district blew through in the last 15 or so years. The money would be repaid, plus interest, by adding another charge to property tax bills for decades. Although Measure CC has “Affordable Education” and “Job Training” in its name, this is bond money that legally can only be used for land and buildings. It can’t be spent on education, or scholarships, or programs. Incidentally, in 2011, the State Controller reported on massive waste, fraud and mismanagement in the LACCD’s bond program. They promise this time they’ll really fix the bathrooms.

The City of Los Angeles is asking voters to approve Measure HHH, authorizing $1.2 billion of borrowed money to build housing for the homeless. Like the college bond, the money can only be used for land and buildings. Not one penny can legally be spent for services like mental health treatment, addiction counseling, shelters, social workers, law enforcement, or help for victims of domestic violence. The city can buy land, even forcing the sale with eminent domain, and pay developers to build high-density housing. Meanwhile, property tax bills will have an extra charge for decades to pay back the $1.2 billion plus interest. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Daily News

California’s Next Climate Policy That Won’t Help

Global WarmingYou wouldn’t expect a document titled “Vibrant Communities and Landscapes” to make so many people this angry.

“We are writing to express our concern and dismay over the draft ‘Vibrant Communities’ document,” wrote the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) on behalf of more than 163 business groups, 325,000 employers and 3 million jobs.

“Radical and without precedent in California public policy,” wrote Michael Lewis, senior VP of the Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition (CIAQC).

These comments were sent to Ken Alex, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, on Sept. 28. That was the final day of the public comment period for the draft of “Vibrant Communities and Landscapes.” It was only two weeks long.

“We strongly object to this inadequate amount of time to process a piece of policy this large and its potential impacts on the business community across not only L.A. County but the entire state,” wrote BizFed.

“We recommend that the document be scrapped,” wrote Lewis.

The “Vibrant Communities” document has cheerful photos of redwoods and sunflowers on the cover, but inside is a five-page plan to “consider land use in the context of California’s climate change policy,” and to ensure “that all Californians have equitable access to housing, health care, jobs, and opportunity.“

What does that mean, exactly?

According to the CIAQC, it’s “a new set of policies to govern every aspect of land use, transportation and air quality planning in California” written by eight state agencies without adhering to legally required procedures for new regulations.

The plan calls for policies that would allow new developments in previously-developed areas while discouraging “conversion” of open land. It envisions toll lanes (“priced express lanes”), fewer parking spaces (“reduced parking requirements for development”), and incentives for using transit in order to reduce “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT).

Driving, it seems, is the enemy of vibrancy.

But how is the government going to control how much people drive?

The answer can be found in a document released by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research last January. Thrillingly titled, “Revised Proposal on Updates to the CEQA Guidelines on Evaluating Transportation Impacts in CEQA,” the guidelines replace concerns about a project’s impact on traffic speed with calculations about the number and distance of vehicle trips it would generate. …

Click here to read the full article published by the L.A. Daily News

A Quick Guide to the 17 State-Wide Ballot Measures

VotedI know what you’re thinking as you look at the 224-page voter guide to 17 statewide ballot propositions, and it’s not printable in a family newspaper.

Still, with California effectively under one-party rule, you and the ballot initiative are the closest thing we have to a system of checks and balances. So here’s my personal guide to help you do the job.

Yes on Proposition 54 to require that bills in the Legislature be posted online in their final form for 72 hours before lawmakers vote on them. This ends the abusive practice of slamming backroom deals into unrelated or blank bills as an “amendment,” then rushing them to the floor for a vote before anybody else can read them.

Yes on Prop. 53 to require voter approval before the state can borrow $2 billion or more for state projects by issuing revenue bonds. This affects the proposed Delta tunnels water project. Revenue bonds are repaid by charging the users of whatever they’re issued to build. If you use water, that’s you.

Yes on Prop. 52 to protect a program devised by California hospitals to secure available federal matching dollars for Medi-Cal. The hospitals pay the state to help fund Medi-Cal, which then qualifies for matching funds, and then the hospitals get most of their money back. The “most” part is the problem. Vote yes on 52 to keep politicians’ hands out of the Medi-Cal cookie jar.

On the rest, I’m voting no.

Taxes and education: Prop. 55 extends a temporary income-tax hike on high-earners until 2030, but the school budget crisis is over, and a top state tax rate of 13.3 percent makes California uncompetitive with other states for the small businesses that create most of the jobs in America. Prop. 51 soaks taxpayers for $9 billion plus interest to build schools so new-home developers can escape higher fees. Prop. 58 repeals the 1998 “English for the Children” initiative and reinstates bilingual education, and it could lead to some students being automatically enrolled in bilingual classes even if parents don’t request it or want it.

Criminal justice: Prop. 57 empowers state prison officials and parole boards to release many state inmates early, regardless of enhanced sentences. Prop. 62 abolishes the death penalty. Prop. 66 changes death penalty procedures to limit and speed up state appeals.

Substances and drugs: Prop. 56 puts a $2 tax on cigarettes and extends tobacco taxes to vaping products. Prop. 64 legalizes recreational marijuana, but it also launches a massive new state bureaucracy to regulate, track and tax every plant from seed to sale, and it’s still illegal under federal law. Prop. 61 orders some state agencies to pay no more for prescription drugs than the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, likely leading to pre-discount price hikes. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Daily News.

How LAUSD’s Chocolate Milk Ban Became an Environmental Disaster

chocolate-milkThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines idiocy as “extreme stupidity; something that is extremely stupid or foolish.”

That’s the best thing that can be said about the Los Angeles Unified School District’s decision in 2011 to ban chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk. It might be worse than idiocy, but let’s go with that.

LAUSD has more than 640,000 students enrolled, a population that would make it the 26th largest city in America. When the district discards its trash every week, it’s an event.

Republic Services, the company that has had the LAUSD rubbish-hauling contract for nearly five years, estimated last year that the district throws out 600 tons of organic waste, including liquids, every week. Most of that is uneaten food. The liquid is unconsumed milk. White milk.

LAUSD serves milk to students from kindergarten through 12th grade every day for breakfast and lunch. The “milk options” on the menu are “White Low Fat 1%,” “White Fat Free” and “White Non-fat Lactose Free.”

But this segregated milk policy is a failure with the students and a hazard for the environment. It’s not easy to throw away two servings of milk per day for the population of the 26th largest city in America.

At a recent meeting of the LAUSD school board’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee, board member and committee chair Monica Ratliff asked Robert Laughton, director of the district’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, about a photo in his report that showed students pouring milk into a trash can.

“Do we throw it down the drain?” she asked. “Where does it go?”

“Originally, they poured it down the drain,” Laughton said, “but the city didn’t like milk going down the sewer system. You can’t put it down the storm drain, that’s against the law. The city isn’t crazy about it going to Hyperion (the wastewater treatment plant) either so now they’re pouring it into black trash bags and putting it into the trash bin. So it’s pretty much going across the counter and into a trash can.”

From there, the milk in the trash bags is hauled to local landfills. That probably includes the notorious Sunshine Canyon, a city- and county-owned facility operated by Republic Services, which takes in about a third of L.A. County’s garbage. It has become Granada Hills’ most obnoxious neighbor due to worsening odors.

If milk is causing problems at Sunshine Canyon, the situation may improve next year. That’s when LAUSD plans to start hauling its organic waste to another county in order to comply with new state regulations for mandatory organic waste recycling. The issue was before the Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee because it’s going to cost a lot of money to haul 600 tons per week of organic waste to a composting facility as far away as southern Kern County.

The district would like to reduce food waste. Board member Scott Schmerelson said he’s been trying for a year to help nonprofits pick up unserved meals for food banks. “It’s the most convoluted and difficult process to have the correct insurance to be able to do that, and people just give up,” he said.

Different menus might help. If there’s one thing that’s certain about a “Turkey Pastrami Croissandwich with Cheese” (lunch, grades 9-12, September 27), it’s that a carton of white 1-percent milk will not pair well with it. …

Click here to read the full column from the L.A. Daily News

Susan Shelley is a columnist for the Southern California News Group. Reach her at Susan@SusanShelley.com and follow her on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley. 

Bills inspired by Stanford rape case miss big part of the problem

Brock turnerBrock Turner is a free man, and now California’s justice system is on trial.

When the former Stanford student was sentenced in June to only six months in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, a sickening thud landed like a punch to the gut of millions of people who were following the high-profile trial.

Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky could have sentenced Turner to 14 years in prison and prosecutors asked for six. But despite the prosecutors’ recommendation and an impassioned letter from the victim describing her life-destroying ordeal, read aloud in court, the judge sentenced the young man from a wealthy family to just half a year in prison. “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky explained.

In the uproar that followed, Persky moved to civil court and no longer hears criminal cases, a recall effort was launched against him, and the California Legislature sent two bills to the governor’s desk.

AB701 modifies the definition of rape to include selected acts that under current law are charged as “sexual assault” and “forcible sodomy.”

AB2888 ensures that sex crimes against an unconscious or severely intoxicated victim trigger mandatory prison sentences without any argument over whether “force” was used to commit the crime.

Another, SB813, removes the statute of limitations so rapists can be charged no matter how long ago the crime occurred.

Do these laws heighten the risk of wrongful convictions?

Try this test: Instead of thinking about Brock Turner, think about the three Duke lacrosse players who were wrongfully accused of gang rape in 2006. After a year, North Carolina’s attorney general declared the three men innocent. The Durham district attorney was convicted of contempt and disbarred.

The challenge is to get the law right so innocent defendants can clear their names and innocent victims can get justice, sometimes in cases where only two people were present, and one was unconscious or close to it.

Perhaps the law should address what happened to Turner’s victim after the crime.

In her statement to the court, the victim said she originally thought Turner would “formally apologize, and we will both move on.” Instead, “he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me.”

That’s what happens to victims of sexual assault when the perpetrator is wealthy or powerful enough to use character assassination as part of a legal or public relations defense. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Daily News

L.A. Community College District Seeks Billions More for Buildings

L.A. Community CollegeIn May, the Los Angeles Community College District put out the word that it wanted to hire a public relations firm.

A website called Everything-PR.com reported that the “scope of the work” included developing “a communications strategy” to “help the district explore the feasibility of a district-wide bond measure.”

That means the PR firm will have to explain to voters who already approved nearly $6 billion in borrowed money that the district has spent it all and wants $3.3 billion more. The publicists should get hazard pay.

The Los Angeles Community College District has nine campuses with about 135,000 students enrolled. In the San Fernando Valley, the LACCD schools are Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Mission College in Sylmar, and Valley College in Valley Glen.

Sixteen years ago, California voters approved Proposition 39 to allow education bonds to pass more easily, requiring only 55 percent voter approval instead of two-thirds. The next year, local voters approved Proposition A, authorizing the Los Angeles Community College District to borrow $1.2 billion by selling bonds to investors.

Two years later, the district persuaded voters to approve Proposition AA for almost $1 billion more.

By 2008, the money had run out and the district came back to the voters for an additional $3.5 billion, bringing the total to $5.7 billion of borrowed money – about $11 billion including interest – that’s paid back to investors by raising property taxes. It shows up as an extra charge on the bill, for decades.

What did all that money buy?

Bond money can’t legally be used for the salaries of faculty, staff or administrators. It can’t be used for operations or general expenses. It can only be used for facilities – mostly for renovating and constructing buildings.

In 2011, investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the State Controller’s office uncovered massive waste, fraud, and mismanagement in the bond program. …

Click here to read the full story from the L.A. Daily News

Why Los Angeles Urban Planners Are Wrong to Restrict Parking

ParkingJust before the backers of the anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative submitted more than enough signatures to put the measure before the voters, they met with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

If the city would come up with its own plan to limit oversized developments, the group said, they would not go forward with the initiative.

Mayor Garcetti made a concession. He offered to notify the public of closed-door meetings between city officials and developers.

That wasn’t nearly enough for the initiative backers, who think closed-door meetings should be banned altogether, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Demolition of the buildings on the historic former Rocketdyne site in Canoga Park is now underway in preparation for what the developer is calling a “sustainable urban village” of about 4,000 housing units. As recently as June, City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield addressed public concerns about an excessively large development at the site by saying, “nothing has been submitted to the city for this location.”

Has Councilmember Blumenfield or other city officials held closed-door meetings with the developer or lobbyists and consultants about the Rocketdyne site? The public lacks even the right to know.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is aimed at stopping the out-of-control “spot zoning” that allows oversized developments to be approved in places where they otherwise would be prohibited.

One purpose of zoning and community plans is to provide consistency over time, so that when people buy property, whether for a home or business, they know what they’re buying. A home on a quiet street of single-family residences won’t suddenly have a strip mall or hotel as a next-door neighbor.

“Spot zoning” to allow more height and density can have an extremely negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, especially if the minimum requirements for parking are waived. And this is increasingly what some urban planners are recommending.

Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA and author of the influential 2005 book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” says “minimum parking requirements subsidize cars, increase traffic congestion and carbon emissions, pollute the air and water, encourage sprawl, raise housing costs, exclude poor people, degrade urban design, reduce walkability and damage the economy.”

But eliminating minimum parking requirements risks turning neighboring residential streets into a scene that resembles the parking lot of Dodger Stadium when the Giants are in town.

Housing policy in California has discouraged the development of new single-family houses in outlying areas in favor of what planners call “infill,” the construction of high-density housing on vacant land in built-up areas. State law also speeds approval of “transit-oriented development,” mega-projects located within a half-mile of a train station or a bus stop with frequent service during peak hours.

Urban planners have a vision that …

Click here to read the full story from the Daily News