By STUART WALDMAN
If there’s one big trend in politics’ Spring/Summer 2019 Collection, it’s got to be the Green New Deal. Progressives love it, conservatives love to mock it, but either way, an opinion on it is this season’s must-have.
What’s ‘it’? Well, that depends on who you’re asking. In February, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced a resolution for a Green New Deal. Jobs creation was top of the list and it has been phenomenally successful at creating jobs for talking heads, who are having a field day.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti released our own version of the Green New Deal. At 152 pages, the plan is broad and ambitious. Many of the goals – housing, transit, job creation – are laudable.
But the plan is silent on the costs. The cost to build all the promised infrastructure, sure, but also the costs to families who are already struggling to stay housed and employed in an expensive region.
Committing so whole-heartedly to one energy source seems problematic to me. We don’t know what future technologies will be available, but we do know that a mix of energy sources keeps our grid reliable and affordable. Ban everything but electric, and we’re hurting businesses today such as manufacturers and restaurants, who are already struggling to keep their businesses and jobs in Los Angeles.
What about families who can’t afford to purchase shiny new electric appliances and electric cars? We know that electric appliances cost more to run than natural gas. And the majority of Angelenos live in apartments – what’s the cost in increased rent by forcing landlords to install charging stations (which I’m guessing will be the next step)?
The plan calls for streamlining permitting processes and improving process predictability for development projects. This is positive for families, and positive for our economy: the housing crisis is strangling our economic growth as families move further and further away from jobs, or even out of the region altogether.
My other priority, investment in transit, is also addressed, with the plan setting out ambitious goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled, increase transit, and re-affirming the Mayor’s commitment to attaining the goals set out by Measure M. Another goal, ensuring that the majority of new housing units are built near transit, will also help our region.
Investing in workforce development to prepare our new grads for careers in growing industries and supporting small business is also positive.
But we should be clear – the promise of 400,000 new green jobs is misleading. We might add 400,000 new jobs in the industries being given a hand up by this plan. But at what cost: how many manufacturing, refinery, restaurant, and other jobs will be lost as these businesses move out of state?
And at what human cost? New Census estimates show that Los Angeles is losing residents, with general agreement that high housing costs are the main driver. But what will happen when not only housing, but also transportation, energy, goods, and services are also unaffordable for the average family?
The original New Deal was a stimulus plan by the federal government when the country was in the depths of the great Depression. Our economy is currently growing, although perhaps not as much as we would like. The greatest risk for our region is pushing solid jobs out of Los Angeles.
While L.A.’s Green New Deal lists environmental justice and jobs as priorities, we need to be clear that parts of the plan will destroy jobs and raise costs for families.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which works to enhance the economic vitality of the greater San Fernando Valley region by advocating for a better business climate and quality of life.