Note from CSO Matt Petersen


When Mayor Garcetti appointed me L.A.’s chief sustainability officer—the first in the City’s history—I understood that he expected me and my team to run a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. Time is a luxury we don’t have, as the planet grows warmer, carbon levels rise and Earth’s natural resources, such as life-sustaining conifer forests and coral reefs, retreat.

Three years later, I am happy to report we have not slowed down — in fact, we’re gaining speed. We released the Sustainable City pLAn on April 8, 2015, setting a vision and a road map for a cleaner environment, a stronger economy and a more equitable society. This comprehensive road map sets time-bound, measurable targets. While we set long-term targets to achieve by 2025 and 2035, the first goals for 2017 come due at the end of this year, and the news is good: we have completed ahead of schedule, or are on track to complete over 90% (56 out of 61) of our outcomes for 2017. And we even have achieved 2 of our 2025 outcomes early.

The implementation of pLAn has helped grow and build an unwavering commitment to sustainability, sparking a culture of collaboration across the City’s departments and bureaus. For example, our pLAn target to require 50% of all vehicles we procure annually to be pure battery electric vehicles (EV). This helped unlock innovation between our L.A. Police Department, Bureau of Engineering, and L.A. Department of Water and Power to put in place the necessary power infrastructure, install 104 EV chargers in one parking structure, and procure 100 battery EVs — all in eight months. This is not only record speed, it shows the women and men that work for our great city want to help unlock innovation, reduce emissions, and save up to 61% on the total cost of vehicle ownership (versus conventional gasoline vehicles).

The Mayor and Los Angeles’ leadership on climate change has also helped spur collaboration across the nation. Mayor Garcetti co-founded the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA), bringing together 75 mayors (aka, #ClimateMayors) and cities across the United States. Working with my peers and colleagues in MNCAA, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland cities developed an electric vehicle request for information (EV RFI) and invited additional MNCAA cities. In the end 30 cities came together– including NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Boston– to show automakers and manufacturers that our cities want over 110,000 cars and trucks in our fleets to be electric, helping reduce emissions while saving us money on fuel and maintenance. Next, we will work to not only do joint pilots to help ensure new EVs can be manufactured that meet the needs of cities, but to do joint procurement to help create economies of scale and lower costs to cities.


Finally, I want to acknowledge my dedicated team: deputy chief sustainability officer Lauren Faber O’Connor, water policy advisor Liz Crosson, energy efficiency analyst Hilary Firestone, EV and zero waste senior analyst Susana Reyes, policy analyst Michael Samulon, policy analyst Jeanalee Obergfell, and our many interns and fellows. They deserve much of the credit for working with our partners and supporting departments in reaching the remarkable achievements outlined in the annual report.

Equally deserving are the City’s 27 department sustainability chiefs. But our most important change agents are the citizens of Los Angeles. We need every Angeleno to take action in their communities, as they have already done by achieving a historic 20 percent per capita reduction in water use, and installing more solar panels than any other U.S. city.

Our progress has been significant, yet many challenges remain to be tackled across these 503 square miles that make up the City of Los Angeles. We can and must do even more together in the months and years to come here in L.A., regionally, and beyond.


Matt Petersen, Chief Sustainability Offcer