LA Councilmembers Are Pushing for an LA Electric Vehicle 'Master Plan'

Zac Estrada

Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.

LA Councilmembers Are Pushing for an LA Electric Vehicle 'Master Plan'

There are a number of government-backed initiatives in Los Angeles currently in motion to shift to improving air quality and electric vehicle adoption. But two City Council members believe multiple — and sometimes disjointed — plans aren't making progress in the face of the climate crisis.

On Friday, Paul Krekorian (District 2) and Mitch O'Farrell (District 13) introduced a motion to create an electric vehicle master plan for Los Angeles, effectively bringing together all of the existing moves by the city and the L.A. Department of Water and Power to create a "roadmap" for electrification of vehicles.

The master plan is intended to lead into the LA100 study to get the city entirely on renewable energy sources as soon as 2035.

Their motion came days before the U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and $73 billion to upgrade the nation's electricity grid.

"Reducing and eliminating greenhouse gas directly benefits the working class and communities of color, as millions live adjacent to busy streets and even busier highways," O'Farrell said in a statement to dot.LA. "To achieve equitable de-carbonization we must focus our investments thoughtfully and strategically."

O'Farrell represents neighborhoods including Atwater Village, Elysian Valley and Hollywood. He is also the chair of the City Council's Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Los Angeles River Committee.

The master plan is also aimed at some of L.A.'s most congested and polluted corridors. In District 13, that includes the 110/101 interchange, as well as portions along Interstate 5.

In the motion, Krekorian and O'Farrell want the city and LADWP to work together on the master plan to best utilize state and federal funding for the mass adoption of EVs. The plan would also include an "equitable placement of electric vehicle infrastructure," across the city, including provisions for residential, commercial and industrial users.

The motion, which builds on the 2015 Los Angeles Sustainability Plan, as well as the 2019 Los Angeles Green New Deal, came one day after President Biden signed an executive order that set a goal for half of all new car sales to be either plug-in hybrids, full battery electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2030.

And it also came just a few days before an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warning of widespread temperature changes and rising sea levels globally.

In January, Mayor Eric Garcetti identified 62,851 EVs registered within the city, less than 1% of the vehicle population. The city has already committed to going to an all-electric fleet of government vehicles by 2028.

In addition, the city still has a goal of providing 28,000 commercial vehicle charging stations by the end of the decade, and 15,000 by 2025. L.A. also has just over 11,000 chargers for commercial EVs.

For passenger vehicles, the city has worked to install charging stations at government buildings, city parks and libraries. LADWP is also in the middle of installing curbside chargers mounted on street lamp posts throughout L.A.

O'Farrell's office told dot.LA that incentives for residents and businesses should factor into the master plan, though they haven't determined the scope.

While LADWP currently has its own programs for residential, low-income vehicle owners and commercial customers, much of it depends on available state funding, which in turn relies on federal funding. The new infrastructure bill could change some of the existing programs.

A new federal infrastructure bill may also affect how much funding can go to building out the public charging network and rebates offered to LADWP customers.

And a master plan eventually approved by the city could face hurdles similar to the federal bill, especially following Garcetti's ambassadorship nomination last month and the gubernatorial recall election in September.

O'Farrell's office hopes the master plan motion comes before the energy and climate change committee sometime next month, with the intent to put it to the full council in October.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.