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LA vs. SF: The Eco Wars

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So, which city is more eco-friendly when it comes to building codes? After reading the LA Times, San Francisco comes out the winner, but that's not to say Los Angeles is some black hole of environmental actions.

Both Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom want their respective cities to be the greenest in the country (doesn't every mayor say they want that?). Villaraigosa wants to lower greenhouse gases to 35% below the 1990 level by 2030 and Newsom to lower 20% below the 1990 level by 2012.

One of the ways to do that is through buildings, which "account for an estimated 43% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., compared with 32% from transportation and 25% from industry," according to the Times. "Buildings' environmental footprints can be dramatically reduced by using low-irrigation landscaping; efficient heating, air-conditioning and lighting; solar panels; roof gardens; and low-emission paints, glues and carpets."

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Today (coincidence it's Earth Day?), the LA City Council will vote on the mayor's proposal to make private developers meet national U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). However, if passed, the ordiance would only make buildings 50,000 square feet or more follow the green guidelines. Additionally, "low-rise residential and single family homes only in developments with at least 50 units" will have to pony up to the more eco-effective design.

Compare that to San Francisco's proposal where commercial buildings "25,000 square feet or more would have to meet LEED gold standards, and residential high-rises of that size would have to meet LEED silver levels." For single family homes and low-rise residential, it covers them all.

And while all steps towards going green are positive steps, some are wary of Los Angeles' commitment to it. Some say that San Francisco's Department of the Environment is a "robust, well-funded agency led by professionals with experience in green building" when compared to Los Angeles' Environmental Affairs Department which is said to be "understaffed and lacking authority." One good example of that is today is Earth Day and their website has not been updated for over two months.

Photo by Elina Shatkin/LAist for 'The Poshest Gas Station in Los Angeles'