Thursday, November 10, 2016

Los Angeles County voters signal widespread support for improving quality of life for all

All our community leaders, volunteers, partners, agency staff, elected officials and more who worked tirelessly on all the initiatives that went before Los Angeles County voters this week should be proud. It takes a village – and I am grateful to all our allies who lead every day in supporting a better Los Angeles County for all. We are making a difference.

On Tuesday, we voted for a hopeful vision of the future, compassion toward the less fortunate among us, and ambitious plans to address the most vexing challenges in our region. Measure A, Measure M, and Proposition HHH all faced a steep hurdle of winning two-thirds support, and all three cleared that threshold with room to spare. Measure A will fund new parks and park maintenance in every community in Los Angeles County. Measure M will fund the most expansive public transit buildout in the United States, including billions of dollars for the walking and biking infrastructure needed for people to access the transit system. In the City of Los Angeles, Proposition HHH will provide permanent supportive housing for the homeless, while Measure JJJ demonstrates voter support for building affordable housing near our growing transit system. These measures are a strong statement that Los Angeles County voters support a more transit-oriented, sustainable, and equitable future.

At Investing in Place, we championed the passage of Measure M because we believe it will create safe and walkable communities, maintain our buses and trains in a state of good repair, invest in high ridership transit corridors, operate more frequent bus service, and repair local streets and sidewalks. For all these reasons, we called it a “game-changer.” But, we also know that our work isn’t done. Measure M is an overwhelming demand from voters to invest in transit, complete streets, and walkable and bikeable communities. The nature of these investments will be determined by Metro’s 2017 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)the document that says what will be built when and where and how community input will be a key part of these conversations and decisions. Measure M provides the vision and the resources, but it is the LRTP that fills in the details of how those resources will be allocated and who will benefit and who will be involved.

As we celebrate these local election results, we are struggling with the tone set by the national election and the shadow it casts over our hard-fought victories. Race and racism—and how they affect individuals, our communities, and our institutions—are very much on our minds. Income inequality, economic class, and whether people feel like they are getting a fair shake have motivated voters on all sides of the presidential race from the primaries through the general election. Los Angeles County and California have already been through the demographic changes now causing angst in many parts of the country, and we have emerged stronger because of our diversity and inclusiveness.

We want to take this to another level here in Los Angeles County and we believe we can, with your partnership.  We saw, over the past several years, hundreds of our partners committed to being at the table to speak up for transportation funding and policy change -— and we made huge strides together. We look forward to how our work together will build a better and inclusive region.

We know, and many are experiencing stark divisions in accessing opportunity, even here in the Los Angeles region. A person’s zip code has a profound effect on their educational opportunities, income, and life expectancy. Toxic emissions are most heavily concentrated in low-income and communities of color. Policies and public investments have played a decisive role in creating these inequities. Now, as we gear up to build the voter-approved investments in Measure M, it is incumbent upon the same people who pushed for its passage to ensure that the policy framework is in place to make these investments equitable and address working together to support an inclusive region we all can prosper and thrive in.

Now more than ever is the time to support what many of our partners have been pushing for: development without displacement, addressing environmental justice, and expanding the voices at the decision making table in public policy. Through it all, we need our leaders to reflect not only who lives in the region, but the diverse needs and challenges we face together. This is why we created Investing in Place — and now we have to make sure that Measure M unlocks the potential of all of our diverse communities.

We believe we are ready for this challenge, and that Metro’s LRTP is the best opportunity to embed equity in all of our transportation decisions. We know that talking about race and class can be uncomfortable for many, but it is also our greatest strength and asset when we embrace and celebrate all our voices and experiences.

I remained inspired by the vision that if  everyone in a region, including those with the fewest resources, are able to fully participate in our economy, our families and neighbors will grow stronger in the long haul. Access to opportunity is at the heart of our agenda for a more robust and more inclusive economy. We think it is an agenda that has the potential to unite unlikely allies and bring our region together. We also believe Los Angeles County has the power to chart the path forward for a state and nation that are following in our demographic and economic footsteps.

These are the themes we will explore at our #JustGrowth Forum on Monday and I invite you to join the discussion. All are welcome — let’s work together to support an even better Los Angeles County for all. Click here for more information and to RSVP.


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