California’s Housing Element law requires all local governments to adequately plan to meet the state’s existing and future housing needs. The law establishes processes for determining regional housing needs and requires regional councils of governments (COGs) with allocating these housing needs to cities and counties in the form of numerical targets. Local governments must update the housing element of their general plans and adopt policies to accommodate the housing targets. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) reviews all local housing elements and determines whether the elements comply with state law.
While the impact of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) on electricity generation and transmission has been studied extensively, the impact of PEVs on the resiliency of the local electricity distribution system has not been addressed in detail. Understanding resiliency impacts is important as the increased use of PEVs, and especially the clustering of PEVs in one area (such as a neighborhood), place additional pressures on already aging power grid infrastructure. As an example, charging a large population of PEVs during normal operations can stress system components (such as transformers) resulting in accelerated aging or even failure, which reduces resiliency of the system. On the other hand, PEVs can also increase system resiliency. When connected to the grid, PEVs are an energy resource that can provide electricity for critical services (such as community shelters) during grid outages and facilitate grid restoration by providing electricity to support the restart of transformers and other utility assets.
In California, there has been a growing concern about rising housing cost burdens. Declining housing affordability, particularly in job-rich areas, can lead to lengthy commutes and pose significant challenges to achieving sustainable transportation and development patterns. It may also cause disproportionate impacts on vulnerable population groups by pushing members of these group to areas where jobs and other amenities are limited. Although no single factor can fully explain the rise of this critical issue, local growth control measures (e.g., growth moratoriums, density restrictions, and public facilities requirements) and other strict land use regulations have been criticized for constraining the housing supply and adding to jobs-housing imbalances. It is important to understand what motivates local growth control actions, as well as how these controls may affect land use, housing, and transportation.
The trucking industry serves as the backbone of the nation’s economy. In 2018, approximately 3.5 million truck drivers were delivering over 70% of all freight tonnage in the United States, generating close to $800 billion in gross revenue annually.1 While 3.5 million truck drivers represents a significant number of jobs, it is not enough to satisfy demand. The trucking industry suffers from a chronic shortage of drivers. Nearly 70,000 additional heavy-duty tractor-trailer drivers in the United States were needed at the end of 2018, according to the American Trucking Associations. And COVID-19 has brought new challenges that may amplify or dampen the driver shortage and in turn impact supply chains. For example, what if a small percentage of long-haul truck drivers became ill? Would it cripple the industry? Would it significantly delay the delivery of essential medical supplies and equipment? New research from UC Irvine explored the challenges imposed by COVID-19 on truck drivers by conducting a literature review, looking at past crises, and interviewing academic and industry experts.
Tractor-trailers dominate the truck cargo industry. Between 1990 and 2010, this industry grew significantly; vehicle miles traveled increased 87 percent and ton-miles increased by 47 percent. While the growth of trucking miles and tonmiles is a positive indicator of economic transformation and expansion, the trucking sector also produces negative externalities, including but not limited to pavement damage. Pavement damage is closely tied to vehicle weight, which is a product of private market decisions driven by the cost of delivery per ton and the frequency of delivery. Understanding the interplay between fuel cost and private sector decisions on truck dispatch (i.e., frequency and load of trucks) is key to understanding infrastructure damage.
Workers in Southern California currently face transportationrelated challenges accessing employment opportunities, including but not limited to high parking costs and/or limited parking availability in dense employment and residential areas; long commute distances between residential areas and employment opportunities; and poor transit service quality in many areas. These challenges are particularly burdensome for low-income households that may not have access to a personal vehicle and/or live in jobpoor neighborhoods, as having a personal vehicle may be the only viable way to get to work.
In December 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Innovative Clean Transit regulation, which is designed to transition the state to all-electric bus fleets by 2040. To comply with this first-of its-kind regulation, transit agencies have two alternatives: battery electric buses (BEBs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs). These options vary in energy requirements, overall effectiveness in reducing different emission types, associated life cycle costs (including disposal of the bus), and ability to meet operating needs of transit agencies. To support transit agencies and decision makers transition to cleaner bus technologies, researchers at UC Irvine developed a life cycle-based analysis (LCA) tool to estimate the potential costs and benefits of switching to BEBs and FCEBs compared to conventional buses. The LCA tool was tested on the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to better understand the environmental impacts and cost constraints.
Recent commercialization of advanced low-nitrogen oxides (NOx) Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engines for medium- (MDV) and heavy-duty (HDV) vehicles has garnered significant interest due to the potential air quality benefits. Further, utilizing renewable natural gas (RNG) in advanced CNG engines from sources such as biomass and/ or biogas can achieve reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) relative to using petroleum fuels and fossil CNG. However, the regional air quality and GHG reduction benefits of large‐scale deployment of advanced CNG trucks are currently unclear. Further, more information is required regarding RNG production potential from California instate biofuel resources, including potential supply volumes and production pathways that provide maximum GHG reductions. The UC Irvine Advanced Power and Energy Program assessed the air quality and GHG implications of transitioning to advanced CNG engines in MDVs and HDVs in California by developing and comparing different future adoption scenarios. The research team also leveraged prior research of biogas and biomass resources in California to consider different options for producing RNG in-state. Key findings from this research are highlighted in the following section.