Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Investing in Place: Organizational Update

What inspires us: Historically, transportation investment decisions have been based largely on political expediency. Where data is used to justify financing decisions, the inputs are often outdated, unreliable, or based on incomplete information, and have undervalued the user experience. To begin shifting the transportation finance decision-making process, and to begin elevating the user experience as a key element of what informs transportation decision-making, Investing in Place is working with partners to identify key metrics, needed supplemental research and community perspectives that make the case for improved transportation policy and investments decisions that address social equity, public health and environmental benefits and support expanding the voices at the table for mobility decisions.

We believe these efforts will anchor transportation finance decisions around achieving outcomes that advance safe, affordable, and dignified access to community life for people of all resources and abilities.

That vision is what led us to create Investing in Place 10 months ago. Our key goal? We are working to support a constituency for equitable planning and build strategic relationships with agencies and efforts that invest in the built environment in Los Angeles County.

What have we been up to in our first 10 months?

  • Conducted 6 meetings (ranging in size from 45 – 100 attendees) with elected officials, policy makers, public agencies, and community-based organizations across the Los Angeles region. Through these engagements, Investing in Place and our partners have shared information, developed priorities, and facilitated discussions among diverse stakeholders to create recommendations for Metro as the agency develops a guiding framework and expenditure plan for the potential 2016 transportation sales tax measure and Long Range Transportation Plan Update.
  • Submitted these recommendations, endorsed by over 50 organizations, to the Metro CEO and Board on September 1st. (click here for the complete letter and organizational endorsements). Key asks in this letter include:

— Develop a data-based framework that prioritizes funding for projects that advance social equity, enhance public health and achieve environmental goals.

— Create prioritization investment areas based on income levels and race/ethnicity.

— Better serve transit-dependent populations by maintaining low fares, ensuring funding for transit operations, increasing frequency of service on high-ridership lines, enacting policies that enable development without displacement, and supporting integrated housing and transportation initiatives.

— Increase funding for active transportation and other travel options for low-income and carless households. Based on best practices and existing research, we recommend that Metro allocate at least 10 percent of any future measure to active transportation.

— Support meaningful and authentic community participation during this process.

  • Convened partners to identify potential metrics and policy recommendations regarding the City of Los Angeles’ plan for investing $1.4 billion to improve 11,000 miles of city sidewalks. We are working to support aligning funding with existing policy efforts (Great Streets, Vision Zero, Sustainability Plan, Safe Routes to Schools).
  • Grown Investing in Place’s financial and human resources through strategic organizational development to fund staff, convenings and research efforts.
  • Held monthly Advisory Board meetings with our 11 person advisory board to guide the strategic development and operations of Investing in Place.

What’s to come?

  • Hiring our second full-time staffer. We are excited to be developing resources to expand our team and reach.
  • Creating a Technical Working Group to review Metro’s transportation metrics and sales tax framework with engaged partners developing and reviewing feedback and recommendations.
  • Holding our first Council of Governments Forum in mid November 2015.
  • Supporting the City of Los Angeles sidewalk sidewalk policy efforts and the $1.4 billion plan to prioritize social equity, public health and mobility needs for the roadways most vulnerable users.
  • Publishing our Organizational Strategic Plan in early December 2015 that provides our vision, mission, goals, tactics and more for the years to come.
  • Conducting quarterly convenings in 2016 to work with partners, decision-makers, and diverse communities to support a movement, make connections, demonstrate leadership, and effect change.

History: Created in January 2015 as a project of Community Partners, Investing in Place evolved from the successful Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative (“Collaborative”), led by Jessica Meaney, now Founder and Managing Director of Investing in Place. The Collaborative was active from 2012 through 2014 as a project of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership in partnership with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The Collaborative set ambitious policy goals for regional agencies and local jurisdictions to improve policies and increase investments in walking, bicycling, and safe routes to school. Investing in Place was founded to expand the Collaborative’s policy focus in order to impact Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan update, potential new 2016 transportation sales tax measure and other critical opportunities to align policy with transportation funding allocations that address public health, social equity and environmental benefits.


Analyzing Metro's draft framework for potential 2016 Sales Tax Proposal

by Jessica Meaney

City of Los Angeles: Sign on to our comment letter and fund sidewalks as part of the transportation network

by Jessica Meaney