Today, by unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council made a major move towards becoming a more climate-resilient city. Not only does LA face a current drought and worsening long-term water shortages, but we also are experiencing increased storm intensity and flooding when it does rain. Thanks to today’s passage of City Council members Felipe Fuentes and Mike Bonin’s motion on stormwater management guidelines for public street construction and reconstruction, LA will begin to adapt its public street and related infrastructure to capture the rain instead of sending it out to sea. When the ordinance takes effect, billions of gallons of rainwater will begin to be added to current water supplies.
The green and sustainable streets ordinance, covering nearly all of the City’s developed land, delivers on the promise demonstrated by the Elmer Avenue neighborhood retrofit (a project of the Council for Watershed Health, the City of LA, TreePeople and other agencies and NGOs). Elmer Avenue shows how public streets and parkways (along with private landscapes and driveways) can be rebuilt to capture, clean, store and use rainwater and make it a significant part of LA’s new water supply, while simultaneously preventing water pollution and the threat of new flooding from more intense storms.
TreePeople worked on crafting the ordinance with Councilmember Fuentes, who participated in our recent leadership delegation to Australia to learn lessons from their experience with historic drought. Although he was already committed to the solutions we’ve been recommending, what he witnessed and learned on the tour moved him to jump into action in introducing key programs such as this to get them moving without delay because of their huge potential impact in making LA a water- and climate-resilient city.
We have to agree with Councilmember Mike Bonin’s appraisal when he said, “This is the most thoughtful, smartest piece of legislation I’ve seen since taking office.”