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In April of 2013, Superior Court judge Timothy Taylor, agreeing with the Sierra Club, ruled that San Diego County's climate action plan violated state law by not taking climate pollution sufficiently into account in its long-term transportation plan. Today (October 29), the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, upheld Taylor's decision.

Said the appeals court, "The Sierra Club alleged that instead of preparing a climate change action plan that included comprehensive and enforceable [greenhouse gas] emission reduction measures that would achieve [greenhouse gas] reductions by 2020, the County prepared a climate action plan as a plan-level document that expressly 'does not ensure reductions.'"

Judge Taylor ruled that the climate action plan did not contain enforceable greenhouse-gas reduction measures that would achieve the specified emissions reductions. Many environmentalists have long complained that the county relies excessively on highway traffic.

The county appealed, claiming the statute of limitations bars the claim that the mitigation measures are not enforceable, a supplemental environmental impact report was not required, and the county's plan met legal requirements. Today, the appellate court agreed with Judge Taylor's decision.

(corrected 10/30, 6:30 p.m.)

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Comments

Dennis Oct. 29, 2014 @ 4:37 p.m.

One thing that is never brought up in discussions about traffic/transit is increasing the amount of telecommuting. The infrastructure already exists including video conferencing on demand but employers still are stuck in the model that requires them to see the employee to determine if they are doing the work assigned. Many of the folks in traffic on the freeways could just as easily work from home if the employers would allow them.
Employers need to figure out how to measure output not just time at a desk.

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2014 @ 5:05 p.m.

Dennis: Shrewd observation. For some time, some experts have predicted that construction of downtown high-rise office buildings will slow down sharply because of telecommuting. It is also an argument that people say is one reason convention attendance is declining, and will continue to do so. Telecommuting can replace many of the functions of conventions. Best, Don Bauder

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Dennis Oct. 29, 2014 @ 5:15 p.m.

If telecommuting ever takes hold there will be quite a few office buildings that can be retrofitted to condos/apartments. Many with nice views of the harbor.

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Don Bauder Oct. 29, 2014 @ 5:47 p.m.

Dennis: Office buildings can be retrofitted to condos or apartments, but I ask: how many offices in those buildings have good views of the harbor? My guess is that, by far, most people in most offices can't see the harbor. Correct me if I am wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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Dennis Oct. 30, 2014 @ 1:28 p.m.

I suppose the same could be said of most of the condos downtown, very few of them have a view of the water, most just have a view of the condos across the street!

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mdisenhouse Oct. 30, 2014 @ 8:09 a.m.

Way to go court of appeals! Hopefully now our County Supervisors can start getting the job done of reducing carbon emissions and stop wasting tax payer dollars on useless appeals. We need a strong, measurable, enforceable climate action plan, and we need it now.

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2014 @ 9:06 a.m.

mdisenhouse: True. The county needs a tough policy. If it appeals this case to the state high court, citizens should make moves to remove anyone associated with such a decision. It would be a stall tactic -- exactly what is NOT needed. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptainObvious Oct. 30, 2014 @ 10:48 a.m.

Is this not being done on State and Federal levels? Why spend money being redundant?

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2014 @ 6:03 p.m.

CaptainObvious: Lots of moolah is wasted on redundancy. Best, Don Bauder

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beibhin Oct. 30, 2014 @ 8:44 p.m.

Enough time has been wasted. The County needs to now get down to the serious business of putting a strong, enforceable Climate Action Plan in place, with more renewable energy, transit, infrastructure for bicycling and walking and no new freeways!

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ImJustABill Nov. 1, 2014 @ 1:05 p.m.

Sorry, but I'm not celebrating. Here's my wet blanket on the celebration:

  1. While smog is certainly a local problem and local emissions will have a big impact on local smog, San Diego doesn't have much of a smog issue due to the wind patterns and topography.

  2. Greenhouse gas emissions are a global issue but I think a global problem is better dealt with at a global level. The overall global impact of CA is only a small percentage of total world greenhouse gas emissions. I understand the idea is to set a good example but frankly I don't see China and India following the example. I could certainly be wrong on this one, perhaps the example will work. But I think in the long run money trumps everything and when developing nations look at the costs

  3. I don't think government is usually good at picking winners and losers in technology. There is a clearly a BIG underlying ASSUMPTION by government environmentalists that solo automobile drivers are BAD must be punished - period. Thus, any idea that potentially eliminates solo drivers is considered good even when it doesn't necessarily work very well in practice (car pool lanes are a good example as shown in http://robotics.eecs.berkeley.edu/~varaiya/papers_ps.dir/TRC-D-07-00021R1-revised-SingleSpace.pdf ) There are potentially many vast reductions in automobile emissions over the next few decades - from alternative fuels to smart technology which could potentially allow cars to safely take advantage of drafting effects.

Rather than picking winners and losers I think the government should provide incentives and/or disincentives to shape the motivation of the technology improvements. Higher fuel taxes would seem to be the most obvious solution to me although those can be regressive taxes so some way to alleviate the burden on lower-income folks needs to be found.

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2014 @ 8:08 p.m.

ImJustABill: I don't follow your logic. You seem to be saying that if San Diego doesn't have a smog problem, it should not be concerned about greenhouse gases and climate change. Of course San Diego should participate in anti-greenhouse gases initiatives. San Diego is part of the world.

You also seem to say that since California is a small percentage of the world, it's not important. Actually, California is relatively a large part of the world, and even if it weren't, it should participate in the climate change issues. As you yourself say, it is a global issue; that means every location has to participate. (I agree that it will be difficult getting China and India to do their parts, but that is no reason to give up.) Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Nov. 2, 2014 @ 7:51 a.m.

I think the question about whether CA is whether a group of people should make a unilateral sacrifice in hopes of getting other groups to make the same sacrifice - OR negotiating with the other groups for everyone to make the same sacrifice.

I can understand people who feel CA should do the right thing to do our part to stop climate change even if it means we are making unilateral sacrifices. But personally I would rather negotiate with other groups so that the change is everywhere.

I think when there are large regions of the world with relaxed environmental standards then we just end up offshoring environmentally destructive activities.

Maybe I'm being selfish about it, if so then so be it.

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Don Bauder Nov. 2, 2014 @ 3:16 p.m.

ImJustABill: There is no doubt that many companies offshore manufacturing to evade United States environmental requirements. There are other reprehensible reasons, such as lowering taxes and evading U.S. regulations. But the quintessential offshorer, Mitt Romney, ran for president and Americans almost elected him. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Nov. 4, 2014 @ 5:36 a.m.

I think if Romney had made some attempt during his campaign to "come clean" so to speak he might have been able to win. He could have moved all his assets to domestic institutions (or at least to non-money laundering nations' institutions).

But he didn't so either he has something to hide or he really doesn't think playing by financial rules is important. Or (most likely) both.

I think this was one issue MR was out of touch with the public on.

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Don Bauder Nov. 4, 2014 @ 9:11 p.m.

ImJustABill: In my judgment, offshoring, which is a very dangerous policy pursued by all too many major corporations -- and individuals -- is one of our biggest economic problems. Look at the jobs we lose when manufacturing plants go overseas to low- or slave-wage nations. Look at the tax revenue we lose when trillions of dollars are stashed in tax havens, or corporations pretend to be shifting their headquarters to a low-tax nation when in fact the headquarters stay in the U.S. These are huge problems. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Nov. 5, 2014 @ 6:38 a.m.

It's hard to imagine corporations doing the right thing just because it's the right thing. You say that used to be the case - I'm in my 40's so I'm younger than you but I certainly can't remember that day.

The tax loopholes may be complicated and difficult to close in a fair way but I'm sure if congress had the intent they could find a way to do so.

I'm not sure how you stop offshoring jobs - except I think some companies are finding it's not as easy as you think.

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ImJustABill Nov. 1, 2014 @ 1:29 p.m.

Oh and I think addressing housing development might be more effective than addressing transportation system.

The government has long provided large incentives for people to buy large houses in the suburbs and we wonder why everyone has large houses with long commutes.

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2014 @ 8:12 p.m.

ImJustABill: There is no question that housing and transportation are twin problems. Developers build far from the city's center. White flight and other factors induce people to buy those homes. In San Diego, planners tend to expand highways and freeways instead of emphasizing transit. The roads get clogged and the gases fill the air. Ergo, San Diego contributes to the climate change problem. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 2, 2014 @ 3:17 p.m.

ImJustABill: Our entire financial and tax system is set up to maximize housing construction. It is stupid. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Nov. 2, 2014 @ 6:36 p.m.

Cause does not necessarily equal correlation. But since the housing market and stock market indices have traditionally been correlated to the economy representatives from the housing and securities industries have been able to convince government leaders to give their industries boatloads of money, using the specious reasoning that this would somehow be good for everyone.

I think in the long run the effects have been very negative for most people - and for future sustainability.

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Don Bauder Nov. 2, 2014 @ 8:11 p.m.

ImJustABill: Agreed. Housing and the securities industry have far too much political clout, and enjoy policies that favor their growth at the expense of more important initiatives. This does not just apply to government; it applies to the Federal Reserve, too -- in spades. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2014 @ 8:16 p.m.

Loita Garrison Mathews: Elsewhere on this blog, we have a discussion of John Coleman's credentials to make his statements on the greenhouse gas topic. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 4, 2014 @ 9:13 p.m.

George Wrentmore: There are many other indications that climate is changing. For example, birds that used to migrate far south are not migrating anywhere near as far. Best, Don Bauder

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