Diana DeRubertis's blog

Diana DeRubertis is an environmental writer focusing on the urban planning field.

Waiting for the urban clothesline

This Labor Day weekend, Southern California is facing an extreme heat wave, with temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees. Air conditioners have to work overtime to keep indoor temperatures near 80, and California power resources are operating at near capacity. As condominiums bake in the sun (as they do most of the year around here), there is not a solar panel in sight.

While we are still waiting for renewable energy, a few simple measures could lead to big residential power savings. Enter the laundry line, one of the oldest and most practical ways to use solar energy. Electric clothes dryers not only require vast amounts of fossil fuel-derived power, they also pour heat into living spaces and strain cooling systems.

Transportation Infrastructure "Stressed To the Breaking Point"

In an editorial posted yesterday in Popular Mechanics, national security expert Stephen Flynn argues that Americans are relying on decades-old infrastructure intended for a much smaller passenger and vehicle load.

Can Transit Link A Sprawling County?

I’ve confirmed that it is possible to take public transportation to the most suburban of suburban locations: the outlet mall.

Beyond CO2

It’s great that global warming is finally getting its day in the media spotlight. But with all the buzz about carbon footprints and carbon offsets, I wonder whether the average American now believes that carbon dioxide is the only pollutant that we need to worry about?

Smart Growth, Bad Air

Locating residential development closer to city centers comes with a price: increased exposure to air pollutants.

A Glimpse of California's Past

Travel a few miles outside of Santa Barbara and you’ll encounter a truly rare scene – rare for coastal California in the year 2007, that is.

If You Build It, They Will Come...

The planned expansion of Interstate-5 in San Diego County would finally complete the Southern California metropolis. Los Angeles and Orange Counties became wall-to-wall sprawl development decades ago, erasing all traces of their rural heritage and the scenic outdoors. Northern San Diego County, with its quaint beach towns, is tenuously holding on to the last vestiges of agricultural land and breathable open space. But these areas too are rapidly developing. It is no surprise then that I-5, the only north-south route along the coast, is increasingly traffic clogged. The county’s solution? Invest $1.4 billion to expand the freeway from 8 lanes to 12 or 14 lanes along a 26-mile stretch of the north county coast.

Is it possible to design both for the pedestrian and for the car?

It has been a few years since my last trip to Europe, so perhaps I have selective memory. But I don’t recall having to compete with hundreds of cars or choke down exhaust while exploring the streets of London. I remember navigating through seas of people that filled the city’s squares, alleyways and boulevards.

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