Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Policy Makers come together to discuss defining transportation equity in Los Angeles County

Last week over 50 policymakers and key leaders from across the County joined Investing in Place in discussing “How do we define transportation equity for Los Angeles County?” In order to improve mobility options for all in the region, Investing in Place firmly believes it is critical to have a definition to inform our investments, coordinate with other agencies and jurisdictions, and measure the impact of success or challenges in improving mobility options in low income communities and communities of color. And the update of the region’s Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) presents the opportunity to do this.

This is the second elected officials breakfast Investing in Place has convened this year – as we see defining transportation equity and mapping an adopted criteria to build a program in the 2018 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) as one of our key campaigns. For too long, we have operated without a shared definition of transportation equity – which hinders the region’s ability to prioritize funding opportunities based on need, and create a meaningful and regionally supported program to measure impacts both good and bad to better inform policies, programs and investments.

The Investing in Place Los Angeles County Transportation Equity Technical Work Group defines “transportation equity” as:

  1. Equitable access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation options that connect people to employment, services, education, health care, recreation and cultural destinations.
  2. Shared distribution of the benefits and burdens of transportation investments, especially for communities historically impacted by racial injustice, disinvestment, pollution and unsafe streets.
  3. Partnership in the planning, investment, and implementation processes that result in:
    • shared decision making,
    • more equitable health and quality of life outcomes for high-priority areas while strengthening the entire region and serving existing residents, and
    • equitable policies to achieve development without displacement.

The above definition is widely supported, however, determining the criteria to identify the areas, and the program and funding to begin to operationalize this definition is where we focused the morning’s discussion.

In our policy paper on transportation equity we published last Fall, we propose that 1. Race 2. Income and 3. Vehicle ownership are at the crux, along with collision rates (recently added as a priority by our #JustGrowth work group)  to address the shortcomings of long-standing, inequitable policies. The City of Los Angeles Safe Routes to School prioritization process as well as the City’s Vision Zero High Injury Network, are excellent resources that, if scaled at the county level, can have powerful and measurable benefits to the region as a whole – and are inspiring a lot of this work.

So what was discussed ?

  • Agreement we need to define equity and create a meaningful strategy and program for the 2018 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
  • At heart of this work are the real lived experiences from everyday people. This campaign needs personal stories to talk about why this issue matters.
  • Metro traditionally measures need based on access and mobility – using race as a criteria concerns them, and many believe will present challenges. In contrast many members at the breakfast voiced we could no longer ignore race in our mobility policies – and especially could not in any equity strategy.
  • Learn from housing policy that addresses undoing racial segregation in housing policies.  And think about how a shared definition/criteria of high need areas in Los Angeles County could allow for multiple agencies and jurisdictions to have coordinated strategies around housing and development without displacement.
  • Safety matters to all. The City of Los Angeles Vision Zero efforts, included polling on transportation issues.  The city also held focus groups that found people supported targeting resources to high need areas and efforts to improve safety, especially for vulnerable users.
  • Improve measurements to access – especially to job centers.  Consider access when in criteria conversation.

Many of these discussion points provide the key next steps for this process – story banking, examining policies and opportunities that use race as a criteria, continuing to have these conversations with partners and leaders across the County – and especially Metro as staff works to develop their Transportation Equity Strategy by March 2018.

Investing in Place is inspired by last week’s conversation is working to continue this discussion and support a platform for #JustGrowth in Los Angeles County.

To see pictures from the event – check out our facebook album.

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