Thursday, February 2, 2017

Los Angeles County Policymakers Convene to Discuss #JustGrowth Agenda

On Monday, Investing in Place brought together policymakers and elected leaders from across Los Angeles County for breakfast to continue a conversation around a shared vision for implementation of Measure M. The measure, approved with the support of 71% of voters, will provide a significant amount of revenue over the coming decades for transportation priorities throughout the county. While the major projects were spelled out in the ballot measure ordinance, many decisions about other funding programs have yet to be made.

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Group picture at Investing in Place’s Breakfast with Transportation Policymakers. January 30, 2017, picture by Rudy Espinoza.

We had two goals for the breakfast:

  1. To continue bridging dialogue between policymakers, elected officials, and community leaders we hear from at our convenings, work groups, and transportation workshops.
  2. To continue growing the discussion on implementing  our vision for equitable, safe, and sustainable transportation, particularly how we will do that work in partnership will leaders across the region in  2017.

Our Agenda

After welcoming remarks by Investing in Place’s Jessica Meaney and the American Heart Association’s Claudia Goytia, Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Director Hilda Solis kicked off the discussion with a reminder how important it is to ensure all voices are at the table—particularly those who have been overlooked in past decisions—as we implement Measure M.

Supervisor Solis then (surprisingly!) presented Investing in Place with a commendation for our work advocating to improve the lives of all in our county. We are honored and humbled by her recognition… It’s a reminder that what we do in Los Angeles should be — and we’re channeling Santa Monica’s Rick Cole here — an example of what makes America great.

Next, we asked the policymakers to share their vision and priorities for transportation in the region. We heard about: looking out for vulnerable residents, linking transportation and housing, and using data to focus resources where they are most needed. Not too surprising, we heard these values and themes before from parents all across First 5 LA Best Start communities in Los Angeles County, people advocating for better sidewalks and crosswalks, and constituents advocating for a more equitable transportation system in Los Angeles County.

Summary of Our Discussion

Here are highlights from our discussion:

Mayor Ted Winterer, Santa Monica: Acknowledged the growth of low-wage jobs in Santa Monica. Mayor Winterer said, “In Measure M, I want to make sure we build out a robust transportation system to service those with lower-wage jobs.”

Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, West Hollywood: One of Councilmember Horvath’s priority is to complete the Crenshaw northern extension. She wants to “connect people to economic opportunity” and cultural destinations, while making sure “we address impacts of development.”

Steve Lantz, South Bay Cities COG: Steve talked about Measure M as an opportunity to have broader goals — “looking at new ideas of mobility,” he said — rather than just reducing congestion for vehicles. He acknowledged Measure R didn’t include funding for active transportation — now, Mr. Lantz asked fellow policymakers in the room, how can we finally address active transportation in Measure M and beyond?

Josh Kurpies, Office of Assemblymember Richard Bloom: Mr. Kurpies encouraged those in the room to link transportation and housing policy both locally and at the state level. He acknowledged the challenges and opportunities of working on the federal level — “big problem is fighting for those [federal] dollars.”

Terry Dipple, Malibu-Las Virgenes COG: What do these transportation improvement strategies look like in parts of the county that don’t have good transit?, Mr. Dipple asked the room. “We have different opinions, different backgrounds, and we try to find common ground,” he said. He urged the room think about addressing highway funding and prioritizing every region’s important projects.

Councilmember Al Austin, Long Beach: Councilmember Austin highlighted local priorities including active transportation — “being bike-friendly” — local streets, “helping residents get home” via the 710 freeway, and addressing the movement of goods in and out of the ports.

Blake Dillinger, Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s Office: Blake talked about the California 43rd Assembly District — which covers Burbank, Glendale, and central parts of Los Angeles — “not being a very good public transportation district” with “very little transportation options.” One of their office’s priorities is integrating the future High Speed Rail network with existing and future mobility network.

Nancy Pfeffer, Gateway Cities COG: Nancy reminded everyone about Gateway Cities’ long range multi-modal strategic plan. She said “Measure M is going to be an opportunity to put all that into practice.” She stressed that our region’s transportation system should work for those who are 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds.

Madeleine Moore, Office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl: Madeleine highlighted that building the core north-south and east-west transit grid will still take a lot of work — “we” can’t lose focus on the tremendous benefits of that system. She reminded everyone that we still need to develop partnerships with transportation network companies to complement our system.

Jeff Jacobberger, Office of Councilmember Bob Blumenfield: Jeff emphasized that voters all across the county voted for Measure M and they all deserve to see benefits. In addition, he asked: “How do we maximize local return funding?” Miguel Perla, consultant based in Antelope Valley: Miguel brought it down to the community level. He said: “Oftentimes we hear about the isolation and long distances people have to travel.” He wants to bring in community members and parents who don’t traditionally participate in decisionmaking to get involved in transportation planning.

Megan McClaire, Advancement Project: Megan encouraged any update to the Long Range Transportation Plan elevates voices of those who don’t have freedom of choice in transportation. A very important reminder.

Seleta Reynolds, LA Department of Transportation: Seleta reminded the group that it’s important to use a data-driven approach to direct resources to where they will have the greatest impact. She said, “There are inequities inherent in where people are getting killed on our roads,” so where safety resources go will not be equal. Traffic collisions are the number one cause of death for children in L.A. County, and “every single one of these deaths is preventable,” she said. Her overall point was: Measure M will be a failure if we just build a bunch of transit without addressing huge safety issues. We, she said, “need to prioritize small, but effective capital projects early on” and “prioritizing the most vulnerable  The focus needs to be on how our transportation projects build wealth and strengthen communities.

Joanne Kim, Office of Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson: Joanne expressed her commitment to ending “divide by 15,” (for example, in the case of local return) and instead using data to allocate resources. “Equality is not equitable,” she said.

Dennis Gleason, Office of Councilmember Joe Buscaino: Dennis talked about the challenge and opportunity we face in the City of Los Angeles: coordinating projects with multiple objectives with funding from multiple sources. He stressed that we can address sidewalks and stormwater at the same time. Therese McMillan, Chief Planning Officer for Metro, described the process for updating the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), noting that it will be very different than the last one. She said the LRTP needs to define equity in a way that makes sense to everyone, use data to address safety, and be rooted in shared values.

Jessica closed out the meeting by sharing Investing in Place’s priorities—especially a transportation equity policy—that will advance our vision of #JustGrowth and a timeline for upcoming policy decisions and ways to get involved.

Next Steps

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