Direct Potable Reuse for Los Angeles County: Law and Policy Recommendations for Moving Forward

Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) is a water recycling technique that uses treated wastewater as a source of drinking water. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) of California is currently tasked with developing regulations for DPR by the end of 2023. In this project, UCLA researchers focus on ways to clear the legal path toward the adoption of DPR in Los Angeles County and California. The ultimate goal of this project is to facilitate the adoption of DPR in a manner that is timely, secure and protective of public health. 

Agent-Based Modeling of Solar Power Adoption by Los Angeles County Residents

There are a variety of local, state and federal policies in place designed to promote the adoption of photovoltaic or solar power systems in the United States. Examples include the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, the California Solar Initiative rebates and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Net Metering program. These policies operate by reducing the economic barriers to solar power adoption, while other potential strategies like public outreach focus on educating the general public on the economic and social benefits of solar adoption. like public outreach focus on educating the general public on the economic and social benefits of solar adoption.   Ultimately, the adoption of solar power in residential settings depends on many factors, including finance and homeowners’ perceptions and social influences, as well as regulatory and technological factors. These confounding factors influencing residential solar power adoption rates are far too complex to be fully analyzed using traditional economic models. Thus, a new method is needed to better understand what policies are most effective at increasing solar power adoption in residential areas. 
Award Year

Terahertz Laser Leaf Scanner to Reduce Urban Ecosystem Water Expenditure

Plant water use accounts for a major portion of the total water use in Los Angeles. Reducing water use in irrigation systems from lawns and gardens to parks is essential to achieving significant reductions in water expenditure across the urban landscape, while still maintaining critical urban greenery for public health and wellness. However, current technologies that monitor the water status of plants are time-consuming and destructive to the plants themselves. Thus, a new technology that efficiently estimates leaf water status in plants using noninvasive remote sensing technology will aide in managers’ ability to maximize water use efficiency in parks and open space.
Award Year

A Genomic Roadmap for Urban Biodiversity Conservation: Employing Landscape Genomic Connectivity Analyses for Future Planning of the Los Angeles Basin

The Los Angeles region lies within one of only 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world with more than 4,000 unique native plant and animal species recorded by community science efforts to date. However, development, direct exploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive species threaten our native biodiversity. To better manage our native biodiversity and ensure future generations benefit from the ecosystem services such as food production, environmental health and wellbeing, we need to better understand the breadth of the diversity that exists in our region. Realizing that species conservation efforts must incorporate both evolutionary and genetic data, the UCLA research team will apply genomic tools to assess the genetic diversity of species across the Los Angeles Basin and provide recommendations for effective management strategies to preserve and enhance these critical natural resources.

Management Tools to Promote the Coexistence of L.A.'s Nesting Raptors

Raptors (e.g. hawks, owls, falcons) are large, charismatic bird species at the top of the food chain. They experienced human-driven population crashes during the 19th and 20th centuries. While a subset of these species has recovered in the Los Angeles region, others have not — and are intolerant of urbanization and other human activities. To help these species survive, it is critical to identify various factors, such as how well they can tolerate urbanization, as well as their historical and current habitats and nesting areas for future conservation practices. Nesting areas of raptors are also important indicators of ecosystem health in urban areas like the Los Angeles region.   Several government agencies, developers and nonprofit organizations collect data on urban-nesting raptors around the Los Angeles Basin, but these efforts are not well-coordinated. If this information can be consolidated, it will be useful to creating management tools like maps and databases that can help guide local policy and land-use decisions. 
Award Year

Growing Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage in California

Battery storage is a new and emerging renewable energy technology with various challenges that must be addressed before it can be deployed at a larger scale. California has begun supporting energy storage with AB 2514 (Legislation passed to create a cleaner electrical grid and increase the use of renewable energy through the use of energy storage technologies) in 2013 but concerns such as whether battery technology can store enough energy to power homes and the lengths of battery lifetimes remain. This project conducted legal research examining the barriers and challenges of widely deploying distributed energy resources, or “behind-the-meter” storage, for customers served by investor-owned utilities in California.  
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Implementing the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act

Assembly Bill 551 (AB 551), California’s Urban Agricultural Incentive Zones (UAIZ) Act, provides tax incentives to landowners to transform vacant lots into small-scale agricultural plots. Major benefits of implementing AB 551 include:  Reduced number of food deserts across the City of Los Angeles.  Reduced transportation pollution from shipping produce.  Creation of new green spaces in previously vacant lots.  Expansion of local farming coupled with sustainable agriculture technologies.  Thus, the implementation of AB 551 is crucial to ensure the City of L.A. meets its 2025 Sustainable City pLAn outcome to increase urban agriculture sites by 25%. The objective of this project is to research the adoption and implementation methods of other California cities and counties that have already adopted AB 551 to relay this information to LAFPC and to share the best implementation strategies for the City of L.A.
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