Environmental Milestones for Los Angeles in 2012*

*including state and federal events that also affected LA in 2012

Let’s look back together and see what was relevant (environmentally speaking) in 2012.

Of course, in my eyes, the story of the year happens to be the story of the century: climate change hit home in 2012. Inasmuch as Hurricane Sandy was significant, 2012 was also the hottest year in U.S. history. Do you remember last summer’s heat waves in Los Angeles? That’s why I started Climate Resolve – to encourage our leaders and residents to take action in getting LA get ready for anticipated changes while working to reduce our contributions to this global problem.

Next week, I’ll send predictions and enviro-things-to-watch in the new year – but for now here’s how 2012 shaped-up.

Warmest regards,

Jonathan Parfrey
Executive Director, Climate Resolve

  1. Environmental candidates win in November! In California, Democrats wield a super-majority in the legislature.
  2. California hosts a successful first auction of CO2 allowances.
  3. LA’s zero waste plan leaps forward with the approval of the private hauler franchise initiative, enabling environmentally preferred waste pickup from commercial properties and apartment buildings.





  • Headworks reservoir in Griffith Park begins construction. First stage of the reservoir will be completed in 2014. Headworks is part of $1.1 billion in capital water projects, helping the City transition off of chlorine disinfectant. Within the next five years, LA’s water will smell and taste much better.
  • This year’s rainy season is better than average.
  • LADWP expands water recycling to the harbor area, UCLA, Griffith Park and Elysian Park.
  • Rainwater harvesting is now legal in the state of California.


  • Grand Park opens in downtown Los Angeles.
  • An environmental justice victory. Although the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s passage from LAX to the California Science Center resulted in cutting-down hundreds of trees, a coalition of Community Health Councils with support from TreePeople and NorthEast Trees negotiated a mitigation that included the planting of four large trees for each one cut, plus five years of maintenance, employing local youth in the process.
  • LA City Planning Commission approves the LEED-neighborhood Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan.
  • City Hall converts North Lawn to demonstrate benefits of drought-resistant gardening.
  • South Los Angeles Wetlands Park is completed.
  • EPA and DTSC renege on deal to cleanup Santa Susana Field Lab to highest standards, despite recent DOE finding of strontium-90, cesium-137 and tritium at the site.


Special thanks to Mark Gold, Gary Gero, Andy Lipkis, Wendy James, Diana Schulz, David Fink, Peter Stranger, Jennifer Grayson, Heather Kachel, Michael Swords and Dan Farber for their edits and ideas.