To reduce commute transportation demand and further its climate goals, California should tap pension funds to support advanced telecommunications infrastructure

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently issued an executive order directing the state Department of Finance to create a Climate Investment Framework. The order notes that while the state has established an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, emissions from automobiles and other forms of transportation remain a “stubborn driver” of emissions. The order further directs the State Transportation Agency to reduce transportation-based emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled by bringing jobs and housing in closer proximity and to “encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation.” The order also calls for the state to leverage its $700 billion pension investment portfolio and assets to advance California’s climate leadership.

Placing jobs and housing in closer proximity has historically proven to be difficult to achieve in California given local governments have much more direct jurisdiction over land use planning than the state. A better approach would be to leverage pension funds to support regional projects by local governments to build much needed modern fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure. Pension funds the patient capital needed for long term investments such as infrastructure. This strategy would reduce commute transportation demand by better connecting California communities and allowing office workers to more easily work from their homes and co-working centers instead of piling onto freeways daily and spewing vehicular emissions. It’s particularly timely as the state’s high housing prices in metro areas drive lengthening commutes as people seek affordable homes often located at the edges of metro areas and beyond. This is where advanced telecommunications infrastructure tends to be the weakest but provides the greatest benefit.

CalEPA growing, must cut cubicles for regulators | The Sacramento Bee

California can’t fit all of its environmental regulators in its 25-story Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, and it doesn’t want to shell out tens of millions of dollars to find them new digs, either.Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration found a solution that will sound familiar to any longtime traveler squeezing his knees into tight airplane seats: His agency wants to slash the size of standard cubicles in the EPA headquarters.The administration is asking lawmakers to set aside $23 million in next year’s budget to gradually reconfigure the headquarters so it can fit another 1,100 workers in downtown Sacramento. The headquarters today has 2,800 cubicles.


Source: CalEPA growing, must cut cubicles for regulators | The Sacramento Bee

There’s another way of dealing with this problem: Having staff work outside of the centralized, commute-in office in home offices and neighborhood co-working spaces. Despite state policy dating back to the late 1980s, the state continues to operate as if it were 1975 and there was no Internet or today’s advanced information and communications technologies, requiring staff to report daily to cubicle farms.

One might think the frugal Brown administration would be eager to avoid the cost of “officing” all those state workers. Not to mention the transportation demand they create and associated carbon emissions the Brown administration wants to reduce.

Conversation with former California state government telework leader Geoff McLennan

In this podcast, Last Rush Hour author Fred Pilot talks with Geoff McLennan, who before his retirement from public service led the State of California’s efforts to implement virtual work among state agencies and departments. Geoff describes his work and explains the need for trust, leadership and a collaborative culture in order to support virtual work in the public sector. Geoff also discusses “underground” virtual work among certain categories of state employees and how changing expectations and values particularly among Millennials moving into public service and leadership roles will support the wider adoption of virtual knowledge work in government.

BOE headquarters: Falling plaster, shattered glass, even bats Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics.

To the passer-by, the tower at 450 N Street is a downtown landmark, soaring assertively 24 stories into the Sacramento sky.

But for more than a decade, the Board of Equalization’s (BOE) headquarters building has been a nightmare to an assortment of state bureaucrats.  Glass panels fall out; water leaks; elevators stop between floors; there are potentially dangerous contaminants; plaster falls off walls; there are lawsuits.

Source: BOE headquarters: Falling plaster, shattered glass, even bats Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics.

Telework and community-based shared co-working spaces would provide a solution to the ongoing and needless exposure of state civil servants to the deficiencies of this troubled building.