Tuesday, March 22, 2016

South Bay Council of Governments Priorities by Mohja Rhoads, COG Staff and Investing in Place Advisory Board Member

Mohja Rhoads, PHD is an advisory board member at Investing in Place and a research consultant at the South Bay Cities Council of Governments – not to mention an avid traveler and impressive ukulele player. At the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG), Mohja conducts cutting edge research on zero-emission vehicles and neighborhood oriented development and planning. The SBBCOG has implemented several large-scale projects tracking and monitoring the use of low-speed and full-battery electric vehicles. Both programs monitored the use of these vehicles for 2 years for over 50 households. Mohja has worked with Los Angeles Metro and the University of Southern California in developing a big data archive of real-time transportation data from arterial and highway sensors as well and transit ridership and GPS data- the Archived Data Management System (ADMS) for Los Angeles County. Mohja received her PhD in Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California (USC). She received her Master’s degree in Planning from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and French from Columbia University.

The South Bay is a region dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions particularly those resulting from mobile sources. The South Bay is a built-out, relatively dense sub-region of Los Angeles County. It is roughly the same size as Portland consisting of 15 cities (between LAX and the Port of Los Angeles), parts of Los Angeles City and unincorporated LA County, but twice as dense. It lacks the transportation network of Portland having no rail system south of El Segundo or dedicated, high frequency and high speed networked bus systems. Therefore greenhouse gas reductions through public transit measures will be difficult to achieve using traditional rail and bus transit strategies.

Popular planning paradigms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as increasing density will do little to achieve transportation benefits in the South Bay, unless concomitant substantial capital and operating investments in transit are made. The necessary investments are not likely to be made within the coming decades.

Despite, or possibly because, transit investments are decades in the future, many solutions are being pursued to more cost effectively curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) has conducted groundbreaking research over the past 10 years. We have undertaken a major study examining land use and travel behavior within the South Bay. This study has revealed that the correct composition of commercial activities incentivizes walking and trip-making to neighborhood centers. We have also conducted two studies of electric vehicles. The first monitored the use of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) and the second full-range Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). These two studies have provided rich data on the greenhouse gas reduction potential of electric vehicles in the South Bay.

These studies and continued research form the basis of Climate Action Planning (CAP) for the South Bay. The South Bay region CAP will demonstrate how appropriate land use and transportation strategies, tailored to the South Bay and other similar suburban neighborhoods, can effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet GHG-reduction goals outlined in AB32.

Most trips within the South Bay are less than 3 miles. A significant number of these trips can be within walking distance to residences if the right types of destinations are available. Other trips that move beyond the immediate neighborhood can be met with NEVs, BEVs, Bicycles, Telecommuting and Shared Mobility.

Transit does not necessarily need to always be the best response to providing mobility. Technology has evolved within the past several years and will continue to evolve providing people with a host of transportation choices. The South Bay Cities Council of Governments believes in holistic planning at the neighborhood level, which includes enabling a variety of transportation options, and will ensure flexible mobility for years to come while making our communities cleaner and healthier.

Editor’s note: looking for background on who and what the South Bay Council of Governments does? Check out our memo.

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