Worldview: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA

By Swanson, Sandra A. | PM Network, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Worldview: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA


Swanson, Sandra A., PM Network


THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

With 5 million registered vehicles, Los Angeles has developed a love-hate relationship with cars. And with so many residents converging on the city's roads, traffic can prove unbearable. But relief may be coming down the pike:

See the Light

The 8.6-mile (13.8-kilometer) Exposition Light Rail Transit Line is intended to relieve congestion on the busy Santa Monica freeway, which links downtown Los Angeles to entertainment hotbed, Culver City, California. Railway passengers should be able to travel between the two locations in less than 30 minutes.

Construction began in late 2006 and is scheduled to wrap up in mid-2010.

With a budget of $640 million, the project will include eight new stations, three park-and-ride lots with 1,500 parking spaces for commuters, as well as bike and pedestrian paths, and landscaping.

The project also calls for the creation of a trench designed to prevent the railway from interrupting traffic flow along several streets. Work began in August 2007 and is expected to take 13 months.

East Meets West

The east side of the city will soon have a faster way to travel between downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood. The Metro Gold Line east-side extension project broke ground in July 2004 and is expected to start transporting passengers in late 2009. With an $898 million price tag, the 6-mile-long (9.7-kilometer-long) extension offers eight new stations (including two underground).

As the most populous state in the United States, California looms large as a national trailblazer for social, cultural and business issues. Look no further than the environment. In September 2006, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Act aimed at cutting the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. At a signing ceremony in Los Angeles, he declared his goal to "make California No. 1 in the fight against global warming."

As California's largest city, Los Angeles is poised to play a critical role in the green effort. The city's mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has declared he wants to turn the secondlargest city in the United States into "the greenest and cleanest city in America."

Just consider the slew of environmentally friendly real estate projects popping up.

Last November, the Los Angeles Planning Commission approved an ambitious green building program that mandates new large developments be 15 percent more energy efficient. Designed to reduce the city's emission of greenhouse gases, the program also requires developments adhere to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (GBC).

The impact could prove significant: Large residential, commercial and industrial buildings represent 9 percent of new construction in Los Angeles each year.

The city also plans to assemble a "green team" of experts from departments, including planning, building and safety, and water and power. The goal is improve the environmental impact of the basic code for all buildings, including single-family homes and small commercial developments.

Already, more than 50 private buildings in Los Angeles are being built to LEED standards, according to the GBC.

Last October, South Group, a Los Angeles-based developer with a green emphasis, staked its claim as the first California condominium project to receive a gold LEED rating.

Kenneth Reizes, a construction manager for the company, sees a definite upswing in interest. "The general public is concerned about conservation and energy consumption," he says. "They're not just using materials in a haphazard way."

Since the early 1960s. Mr. Reizes has worked in Los Angeles, doing project management and design and construction consulting. Although that work included some energy conservation efforts, his first experience with LEEDsanctioned green buildings was when he joined South Group four years ago. …

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