The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion on Aug. 26 introduced by Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, to incentivize telecommuting options for private businesses.
The motion encourages businesses to adopt remote work policies, allowing more workers to work from home. Having more employees work from home will reduce commuter traffic, as well as carbon emissions and smog, Ryu said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to adapt a remote work and telecommuting model,” Ryu added. “This also happens to be the more climate-friendly model, and it should be the future of work in Los Angeles. I’m proud to see the City Council take this step to tackle climate change, reduce traffic and build a healthier future by changing the way we commute.”
The motion instructs city departments and agencies to report back on the health and economic costs related to unhealthy levels of smog, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, one of the most harmful forms of air pollution. The motion also seeks a cost comparison on telecommuting versus traditional work settings, including the cost of renting office space, furniture and utilities. It further seeks financial and tax relief options to incentivize private industry to adopt flexible work schedules and increased telecommuting options.
After decades of progress, the air quality in Los Angeles has been worsening in recent years, disproportionately harming Black, Latino and Asian communities, Ryu said. Los Angeles had 153 days of unhealthy PM2.5 levels in 2019. The pollution has been linked to respiratory illnesses including asthma. According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, air pollution related illness costs Los Angeles roughly $22 billion a year.
Los Angeles experienced significantly cleaner air at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the city’s “Safer at Home” order, Ryu added. A recent study from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability found a 20% improvement in air quality in Southern California since the “Safer at Home” order took effect in March.
Ryu added that gains may be short-lived without progressive policy changes. Immediately following the financial crisis of 2008, global CO2 emissions decreased by 1.4%, but increased again by 5.9% in 2010, he added.
For information, visit davidryu.lacity.org.
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