Monday, November 28, 2016

3 Ways to Get Involved in the Implementation of Measure M

Despite what’s happening on the national level, 2017 is going to be a defining moment if you, like us, are advocates for a better Los Angeles County where neighborhoods are safe, walkable, and provide access to greater opportunity for all.

Last month, over 70 percent of Los Angeles County voters signaled their support for more and improved transportation options by voting to pass Measure M — a game-changing transportation plan that will invest over $120 billion in the next 50 years in walking and biking projects, better bus operations, maintaining what we build, and countywide connectivity.

But whether or not you or your organization voted for Measure M, the task ahead is clear: how do we guarantee that current and future generations of families, especially in low-income neighborhoods, benefit and thrive with Measure M’s investments? At our Just Growth Forum on November 14th, Dr. Manuel Pastor said, “We need anti-gentrification local policies in place as Measure M projects are rolling in.”

Echoing Dr. Pastor’s sentiment, we — and many of those who attended the Just Growth Forum — need to ensure resources generated from Measure M are concentrated and prioritized in vulnerable communities. To grow stronger together as a region, we need every community to benefit from Measure M’s investments.

Three key ways we can do that are:

1. Strengthening Metro’s 2017 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)

Metro is in the process of updating its Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), a key policy document that has far-reaching implications for how our transportation dollars are spent and whether our communities benefit from that investment. With Measure M, Metro has the resources to fully build out our countywide transportation system. The LRTP will help guide those investments.

Some key points about the LRTP process:

  • Ensuring long-term financial sustainability: The decisions made in the LRTP will determine what levels of transit service Los Angeles County residents can expect for the next several decades and how Metro will leverage future state and federal funding to meet capital needs. For example, the building out of the Active Transportation Strategic Plan and ensuring sufficient funding for sidewalk repair and construction, street, buses and trains, shared mobility options and other emerging mobility strategies.
  • Metro Board of Directors will have a key role in our regional transportation future: The LRTP update is led by Metro’s Countywide Planning Department and adopted by the Metro Board of Directors. The Metro board will continue to build on countywide goals for safety, mobility, accessibility, sustainability, and equity. The Metro board will be responsible for adopting a comprehensive long-range plan consisting of projects and programs that will meet these goals.

At Investing in Place, we’re staying engaged on how to help allocate future transportation investments in historically disenfranchised communities. One of the measures of a successful LRTP for us is an inclusive process that involves community from the very beginning all the way through to implementation.

If you are interested in helping to shape Metro’s LRTP, in the meantime, please join our Just Growth workgroup for more frequent updates and meetings.

2. Achieving Countywide Goals Through Subregional Programs

One of the key policy innovations of Measure M’s expenditure plan is the creation of subregional programs. Let me explain…

It’s no secret but Los Angeles County is a huge place to govern with over 10 million people and has one of the largest economies and transportation systems in the country. To help make decisions about our transportation system, subregional governments and Council of Governments (COGs) identified and prioritized Measure M projects that would help meet their subregion’s transportation needs (Not sure what a COG is? Check out our memo). The existence of these programs is a recognition that in a county of over 10 million people, places like Lancaster and Long Beach have vastly different project needs that shouldn’t be determined in Downtown Los Angeles.

Over the next several months, Metro will work with the Executive Directors of each of Los Angeles County’s COGs to develop the guidelines for these programs. This is an opportunity for policy innovation around performance measures, project selection, and project delivery. This process will be greatly enriched by on-the-ground community voices and experiences.

As Metro develops these guidelines, Investing in Place advocates for a public participation process that includes early and continuous participation from various demographics, race, class, and cultural backgrounds across the region. Having diverse neighbors and community partners at the table has the potential to elevate the success of our transportation investments to benefit our growing population.

Please email me if you’re interested in this work — jessica@investinginplace.org

3. Getting the Most Out of Local Return

Measure M also includes about $150 million per year for cities to meet local needs like street and sidewalk maintenance, local transit, and small capital projects — this funding is called local return. It is a formulaic distribution of Measure M revenue based on a city’s population.

All 89 local jurisdictions (88 independent cities and the County of Los Angeles) will now need to set their own policies for how this new revenue is allocated, and potentially reconsider priorities for the local return from Propositions A & C and Measure R alongside the new revenue from Measure M. Cities that have completed local plans, such as bicycle and/or pedestrian master plans, safe routes to school master plans, or updated circulation elements of their general plans, will be better prepared to use this revenue strategically. Cities that haven’t, can consider using this funding to pay for them.

Decisions about local return are made by cities and the Board of Supervisors (if you live in an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County). As long as projects fall within broad eligibility guidelines, cities are free to spend the funding on anything from filling potholes to building and repairing sidewalks, improving crosswalks and bus stops, adding bike lanes to operating local shuttles.

Interested advocates should reach out to their local elected officials about their priorities to make sure that these funds are invested to support safe, affordable and reliable transportation options for all are adequately funded.

Over the next few months, Investing in Place will develop resources for local advocates looking to influence local return decisions. We’ve formed a City of Los Angeles workgroup called “Completing Streets” on this item — please email me if interested in joining and, if you’d like to attend our first work group meeting, please join us this Wednesday.

Last words…

Over the past several months, Investing in Place has been working to support the passage of Measure M, which will unlock billions of dollars of funding for our priorities of improving transportation options — especially for people out walking, bicycling, and catching the bus or train. Throughout our campaign, we outlined Measure M’s many benefits, but we also cautioned that some of those benefits were opportunities, rather than guarantees.

Now that Measure M has passed, our work must shift toward the policies and practices that will implement Measure M’s funding programs.

We hope you’ll get involved in these conversations.

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