Author: Jessica Meaney

Just Growth, Measure M, transportation equity

#JustGrowth Agenda Outcome #6: Integrating Sustainability


This is the final post in a series of blogs outlining six draft outcomes to guide our advocacy work in 2017. For more background on this series, read the introduction here. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques! Please email us your thoughts at jessica@investinginplace.org.

Outcome: Metro builds an integrated, connected, and sustainable transportation system.

What success looks like:

  • Metro supports a walkable and bikeable county by implementing the Active Transportation Strategic Plan, integrating complete streets into all projects, and investing in first/last mile connectivity as part of all transit capital projects.
  • Metro integrates urban greening into all projects to capture and treat stormwater, increase tree canopy, and reduce ambient temperatures in urban areas.
  • Metro measures and reports progress toward regional sustainability goals, including SCAG’s RTP/SCS greenhouse gas reduction targets, SCAQMD’s ozone and criteria pollutant targets, and LA Sustainable City pLAn’s mode shift targets.

The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California and a primary contributor to smog in the L.A. basin. Transportation infrastructure and the movement of goods and people has a measurable impact on our environment and public health:

All of these environmental impacts have traditionally been an afterthought in transportation planning, or have been considered just the cost of doing business by decision makers. Those costs end up on the balance sheets of other agencies charged with mitigating these impacts —  whether it is the County hospital system for respiratory ailments, cities and the County for reducing water pollution, or the AQMD attempting to control ozone and particulate emissions.

Either way, taxpayers end up paying. Addressing all of these environmental issues upstream during transportation planning is more cost-effective and simply the right thing to do.

What’s Metro’s Role in Advancing Public Health and Sustainability?

Recently, Metro has increasingly embraced its role as an environmental leader by adopting many industry-leading sustainability policies, such as:

These policies show a clear evolution from Metro looking inward at its own resource use to recognizing its role as a major player in regional transportation and land use planning. Integrating these policies into the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is the logical next step. Metro should collaborate directly with other regional planning agencies to set shared sustainability goals for the transportation sector. Two suggestions:

  1. Metro should seek an arrangement with AQMD to jointly address mobile air pollution sources (a.k.a. cars and trucks), similar to the Joint Work Program with SCAG.
  2. Metro should rely on these agencies’ modeling expertise to evaluate different transportation investment scenarios to ensure that shared goals are achievable and consider any necessary changes to Metro’s plans to meet them.

The City of Los Angeles has also set ambitious goals in its Sustainable City pLAn, including reducing VMT per capita 5% by 2025 and doubling walk/bike/transit mode share to 50% by 2035. The pLAn has equally ambitious goals to promote livable neighborhoods through traffic safety and urban greening. Metro should adopt similar goals countywide and ensure the investments proposed in the LRTP will get us there through aggressive implementation of First/Last Mile, Complete Streets, and the Active Transportation Strategic Plan.

Last thoughts…

The transportation sector may be responsible for so many of Southern California’s environmental issues, but that also means it can be part of the solution. As the primary transportation planning agency for Los Angeles County, Metro has a critical role in ensuring that all of its functions from planning and construction to operations put the region on the path toward a healthy environment for the people who live here.

Just Growth, Measure M, transportation equity

#JustGrowth Agenda Outcome #5: Putting Safety First


This is the fifth in a series of blogs outlining six draft outcomes to guide our advocacy work in 2017. For more background on this series, read the introduction here. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques! Please email us your thoughts at jessica@investinginplace.org

Outcome: Metro leads on transportation safety throughout Los Angeles County.

What success looks like:

  • Metro adopts Vision Zero to reduce fatal and serious injury collisions 20% by 2020 and to zero by 2030.
  • Metro prioritizes and accelerates funding and provides technical support to local jurisdictions for Vision Zero projects and reports annual progress.

Traffic safety is a public health crisis in Los Angeles County. Traffic collisions are the third leading cause of premature death, responsible for over 500 deaths every year. Put another way, a person is killed on Los Angeles County streets and highways every 15 hours. That’s someone’s parent, someone’s child, every single day. Crashes are the #1 killer for children ages 5 to 14 and the #2 cause of death for people ages 15 to 44, behind only homicide.

Like other transportation burdens, these crashes are heavily concentrated in low-income communities of color, but the issue impacts communities all across the county. These crashes are entirely preventable through smart policy and good street design.

Towards Vision Zero

With its Vision Zero initiative, the City of Los Angeles has taken the lead on traffic safety efforts in the region — spurred in no small part due to the fact that a person walking or biking is killed on Los Angeles streets every three days. Based on successful traffic safety campaigns in Europe, Vision Zero is the simple idea that in a well-designed transportation system, no one should die just going from Point A to Point B.

Vision Zero is a collaborative approach that “brings together transportation engineers, police officers, advocates, and policymakers to work together towards creating safer streets.” Unlike prior traffic safety campaigns, Vision Zero is laser-focused on street design as the most effective way to modify behavior and improve safety. Vision Zero doesn’t mean zero crashes — it means addressing factors that make crashes deadly like vehicle speed and enhancing protections for people walking and biking.

Los Angeles County has also joined the campaign with its own Vision Zero policy and smaller cities are following their lead.

Launched in 2015, Los Angeles’ Vision Zero early work included mapping a High Injury Network (HIN) consisting of the 6% of city streets where over 65% of fatal and severe injury collisions occur. The Vision Zero Action Plan, released just last month, maps out the City’s strategy for achieving an immediate 20% reduction in traffic deaths in the next year on its way to reaching zero by 2025. The data-driven plan will focus on implementation of proven countermeasures, such as protected left turns, leading pedestrian intervals, and better bike infrastructure, in the locations where they can have the greatest impact.

What is Metro’s Role with Vision Zero?

As the primary transportation planning agency for Los Angeles County, Metro can and must play a leadership role in the region’s Vision Zero efforts. Creating a safe transportation system should be the agency’s top priority through all of its planning, funding, design, and programming decisions.

Unfortunately, some of Metro’s programs like the Congestion Management Program promote objectives that directly conflict with safety goals. Metro should conduct a top-to-bottom review of its policies and programs to incorporate traffic safety.

Metro should also support local jurisdictions with data collection and analysis, technical assistance, and targeted funding for safety improvements. In the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), Metro should set clear safety goals for the county’s transportation system, prioritize the resources necessary to meet them, and report annual progress.

It is hard to overstate how ambitious this goal is, but our communities deserve it. No child should be killed on their way to school and no parent should be killed on their way home from work.

How many deaths are acceptable on our streets? Zero.

Just Growth, Measure M, transportation equity

#JustGrowth Agenda Outcome #4: Frequent Transit is Useful Transit


This is the fourth in a series of blogs outlining six draft outcomes to guide our advocacy work in 2017. For more background on this series, read the introduction here. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques! Please email us your thoughts at jessica@investinginplace.org

Outcome: Metro invests in a frequent network of bus and rail transit service.

What success looks like:

  • Metro defines a frequent network of rail, rapid bus, and high-ridership local bus service with all-day 15-minute headways, or better, that serves at least 70% of the county’s population, and at least 85% of people living in Equity Opportunity Zones.
  • Metro regularly reports on-time performance and state of good repair for the frequent network.

Despite significant investment in new transit and overwhelming public support for even more, Metro is in a decade-long ridership slump — down nearly 6% in just the last year — driven by declining bus ridership.

It’s tough to point to one singular reason for declining ridership. Some factors fluctuate month-to-month and some are decade-long trends: relatively low gas prices, bus service cuts, buses stuck in traffic without dedicated lanes, ease and affordability of transportation network companies (i.e. Lyft, Juno, Uber), drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, the growth of job centers not served by high-quality transit, displacement of low-income transit riders from transit-accessible neighborhoods, and more.

The common thread is that alternatives to transit are becoming more accessible and sometimes more affordable. But, to be frank, transit service has not kept pace with customer demands for reliability and usefulness. The Expo Line is an exception to this trend. For instance, Metro has consistently invested in frequent, all-day service that has made the line useful and reliable for many first-time transit riders. The new clean rail cars also helped make a good first impression. But, not all buses and train lines have received the same attention.

How can Metro increase ridership?

Many aspects of our urban environment are out of Metro’s control. While Metro doesn’t directly control land use or parking policy, it can influence local jurisdictions who do. Metro’s transportation investments have significant effects on the region’s land use policy — intentional or not. Metro may not be able to convince a resident who can now legally drive to go back to spending 2-3 hours per day on the bus, but it can focus on making its service — particularly its bus service — more useful and reliable, so that it is more competitive for more trips.

Years of bus ridership declines means that Metro can no longer afford to take so-called “transit-dependent” riders for granted. Instead, Metro should view low-income riders as its core customer base — one that is increasingly choosing other options — and focus attention on improvements that will retain and grow its customer base.

A more useful and reliable bus network will help stem ridership declines among people who are abandoning the system as soon as they can afford to while likely attracting and keeping new riders more effectively than frills like free wifi.

What does a reliable Metro system look like? More frequent buses.

What do we mean by useful and reliable? In an era where customers expect on-demand mobility, this means all-day frequent service, seven days a week, on a network with strong connections.

Frequent service is useful service. It is the difference between scheduling your life around transit and having transit available when you need it. In a grid network like L.A.’s, frequent transit is the difference between smooth connections that open up access to more destinations and a frustrating, uncomfortable, or even dangerous wait on a street corner that is neither your origin nor your destination. Frequent service is also a hedge on reliability — if a bus doesn’t come on time, there will be another one not too far behind it. Frequent service that runs into the evening means that workers with nontraditional commutes, or students coming home from night classes, or people running errands, can still rely on transit being there when they need it.

This is not a new idea for Metro. In fact, Metro’s Rapid network was an innovative combination of new technology and marketing built on the foundation of a frequent grid of high-quality service. But the last recession caused a shortfall in Metro’s operations budget and painful service cuts that have yet to be restored. Many Rapids are now scheduled at 20+ minute headways outside of peak hours, which when compounded with variable traffic conditions and bus reliability problems can result in gaps of 30-40 minutes or longer along the route. That leaves bus riders stranded and drives them to look for other ways to get around.

Last thoughts…

Successes like the Expo Line demonstrate that there is still plenty of demand for transit, but only for transit that is useful and reliable. Metro should double down on the Metro Rapid model by investing in all-day, frequent service on corridors with high ridership potential. Those routes with particular reliability problems due to traffic congestion should be prioritized for bus lanes and other infrastructure improvements to improve on-time performance.

In addition to the Rapid network, Metro should look at upgrades to high-ridership local lines. Metro already started identifying these high-potential corridors in a 2015 study. In the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) update, Metro should identify a high-quality, frequent bus network with minimum performance criteria and commit to the level of funding necessary to operate it all day and into the evening. This should be the highest priority for new operations funding from Measure M.

Networks and frequency are the fundamentals for a successful transit system. Why does this matter for a more accessible and equitable region? Because, in the words of former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, buses represent democracy in action: “An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.” A useful and reliable transit system is one that recognizes that all people deserve mobility.

Just Growth, Measure M, Resources

#JustGrowth Agenda Outcome #3: Supporting Affordable and Diverse Neighborhoods


This is the third in a series of blogs outlining six draft outcomes to guide our advocacy work in 2017. For more background on this series, read the introduction here. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques! Please email us your thoughts at jessica@investinginplace.org

Outcome: Metro supports economically stable and culturally diverse neighborhoods by promoting integrated transportation and land-use policy.

What success looks like:

  • Metro tracks housing affordability near transit projects and works with local jurisdictions to adopt policies ensuring that the median family can afford the median cost of housing.
  • Metro supports value-capture near transit to invest in affordable housing and related infrastructure.
  • Metro adopts anti-displacement policies to protect long-term residents and business-owners from involuntary relocation.

Transportation policy has a direct effect on land-use — with targeted and effective transportation investments, we can strengthen our neighborhoods with better housing, better access to jobs, and safe and walkable communities for all. Look at any major city… a city’s growth largely depends on having effective and reliable transportation hubs, be they rail depots, highway systems, bikeway networks, or in some cases, ports.

Some context: in the past, real estate developers built privately funded trolley networks to increase the connection to suburban housing tracts (along some of the same rights-of-way where Metro is now building its new lines). Federally-subsidized freeway construction further accelerated suburban sprawl while bulldozing urban neighborhoods and displacing many of their inhabitants. In the current era, transit access is one of several factors driving up urban land values.

The Los Angeles Housing Crisis

The Los Angeles region has not built enough housing in the past several decades to accommodate its growing population, leading to higher home prices and rents throughout Southern California.* At the same time, demand for urban living has concentrated development activity in locations with good transit access and less organized anti-growth constituencies.**

The combination of all these factors — plus a dose of real estate speculation and a sophisticated gentrification machine*** — have led to dramatic rent increases in previously affordable neighborhoods that are predominantly displacing low-income residents of color.

Metro’s Role Supporting Our Neighborhoods

While improving transit is just one factor in the housing crisis affecting low-income communities of color, Metro is uniquely situated to mitigate these issues.

At the regional level, Metro can:

  • Promote housing affordability by supporting policies that will increase new housing, particularly near transit.
  • Support efforts to link transportation and other funding to local jurisdictions’ willingness to accommodate their share of population growth.
  • Integrate local land use policies into its own prioritization of transportation improvements.

Metro can also act locally to promote housing affordability near its projects and work with local jurisdictions to protect longtime residents against displacement. As a landowner, Metro has already increased its commitment to affordable housing through its joint development program. Metro can build on its efforts to support small businesses during construction and grow its revolving loan fund for affordable housing projects. Metro can also support new Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts in order to capture the value created by its projects and direct this new revenue into community needs like affordable housing.

The other role that Metro can play is to help understand the issue through better data collection and reporting. Not too many stakeholders are systematically tracking housing affordability and displacement near transit, so in many respects, policymakers are not as well-informed to the nature and scale of the housing-transportation problem. We encourage Metro to set clear objectives for housing affordability near transit in the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) update and, more importantly, actually measure what is happening in communities.

Last Thoughts

Housing policy is extraordinarily complex with a constantly changing toolbox, and we don’t want to pretend that there are easy answers.

Many of our partners have worked on different facets of this issue for decades. We look forward to working with them to build on what’s working and to innovate where policies have fallen short. Metro has extraordinary reach and resources that — in partnership with local jurisdictions — can be leveraged toward solving the housing crisis.

Sources

*Curbed Los Angeles. March 18, 2015. How Much Does Los Angeles Have to Build to Get Out of its Housing Crisis? http://la.curbed.com/2015/3/18/9979526/housing-crisis-los-angeles-construction

** Curbed Los Angeles. May 3, 2016. Millennials Push LA Population Over 4 Million For the First Time Ever. http://la.curbed.com/2016/5/3/11584732/los-angeles-population-millennials

*** York and Fig. http://yorkandfig.com/#post-228

Just Growth, Measure M, transportation equity

#JustGrowth Agenda Outcome #2: Engaging the Community as a Partner


This is the second in a series of blogs outlining six draft outcomes to guide our advocacy work in 2017. For more background on this series, read the introduction here. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques! Please email us your thoughts at jessica@investinginplace.org

Outcome: Metro engages the community as a partner in developing the transportation system.

What success looks like:

  • Metro incorporates early and continuous stakeholder engagement in all major decisions, with demonstrated responsiveness to input.
  • Metro establishes a bench of qualified community-based organizations to expand the agency’s capacity for authentic engagement.

Metro’s decisions have far-reaching consequences for communities and these decisions aren’t always made on a level playing field. Transportation policy is technical and complex, so how decisions get made is often not transparent to the people affected by those decisions. With such a complicated subject matter, both language and education levels can pose barriers to participation for some stakeholders, not to mention the time commitment to attend meetings and engage decision makers.

How can Metro Better Engage our Communities?

Given the challenges inherent in community engagement, several of Metro’s recent efforts should be commended as great examples of proactive engagement yielding better decisions. Joint Development in Boyle Heights: After a community outcry, Metro scrapped their plan and went back to the drawing board to redo development standards for Metro-owned properties in Boyle Heights. These discussions delved into complicated land use issues in an accessible way, allowing community priorities for the sites to emerge and be incorporated into new development standards.

Measure M: Developing the expenditure plan was an extensive process that took into account stakeholder feedback from all across the county. The combination of polling, public workshops, and targeted outreach meant that the input gathered was both broad and deep — getting a general sense of public sentiment while hearing directly from key constituencies. We particularly appreciated the public workshops held in each subregion to gather input from community members.

Policy Advisory Council: Measure M implementation will require carefully balancing competing priorities among different stakeholder groups. While the Policy Advisory Council hasn’t been formed yet, its structure is promising for its breadth and depth to allow different stakeholder groups to provide direct input on upcoming decisions.

Key Thoughts

These examples have a few common themes: identifying different constituencies with a stake in a decision; bringing those stakeholders into the decision-making process early; engaging them throughout; and clearly documenting how their input was incorporated into the final decision. We seek to make this approach the norm for major decisions at Metro. We also want to build capacity among community-based organizations to engage in transportation decisions by building more formal partnerships with Metro. Community-based organizations know their communities and are invested in their success.

However, these organizations are generally under-resourced and may not have either the capacity or technical knowledge to engage on transportation decisions without greater support. We believe Metro should identify organizations with strong community ties and compensate them for their involvement in helping Metro to engage community members.

Further Reading

Just Growth, Measure M, transportation equity

#JustGrowth Agenda Outcome #1: Prioritizing Communities with Greatest Need


Note: This is the first in a series of blogs outlining six draft outcomes to guide our advocacy work in 2017. For more background on this series, read the introduction here. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques! Please email us your thoughts at jessica@investinginplace.org

Outcome: Metro promotes access to opportunity by concentrating and prioritizing investments in communities with the greatest need.

What success looks like:

  • Metro adopts a clear definition of high-need communities (“Equity Opportunity Zones”) that addresses historical factors of disinvestment — like race, income, and vehicle ownership — and measures both investments and outcomes in these communities.

Some communities have greater barriers to opportunity than others. Whether you look at life expectancy, educational achievement, employment, or any other socioeconomic metric, the fact is that children growing up in economically challenged neighborhoods like Wilmington don’t have access to the same opportunities as children in the Palos Verdes — even if they are a few miles adjacent.

Transportation Can Bridge Opportunity Gaps

Transportation isn’t the only factor in these disparities, but it can play a big role in both creating opportunities in underserved communities and connecting people in those communities to opportunities elsewhere. For example, we know one can access more jobs with a car versus the bus.* But, our poorest families and neighbors are more likely to depend on public transportation — which can often take hours — to get around. And, low-income families who do have a vehicle, spend significantly more of the share of their income on transportation costs compared to richer households.

The lack of public investment in transportation infrastructure in some communities has compounded social and economic disparities. In other cases, the wrong kind of investment has created or exacerbated environmental injustices by running freeways through communities of color or locating rail yards next to neighborhoods.

Public agencies have a moral and economic imperative to address these disparities through intentional investment strategies. We believe that Metro should define high-need communities based on the most significant historical factors of disinvestment — race, income, and vehicle ownership — and concentrate new investment in these areas. We call them Equity Opportunity Zones.

Advocating for Equity Opportunity Zones

To make sure these investments are effective, Metro should track both the amount of funding going to Equity Opportunity Zones and the outcomes that this investment achieves.

When investments are targeted towards communities with the fewest resources, the region will grow stronger overall. When individuals and entire neighborhoods aren’t connected to civic, social, and economic opportunities, the region can’t benefit from their talents. We all become worse off.**

Race Matters

We know that talking about disparities—particularly when it comes to race—will make some people uncomfortable. But, the data is clear that race matters and income matters for which children growing up in Los Angeles County today will have greater access to opportunities. With all that is going on right now, we owe it to our children to be honest about the role these factors have had in determining outcomes in communities and to do everything in our power to address them.

Further Reading:

Sources:

* The Leadership Conference Education Fund. 2011. Getting to Work: Transportation Policy and Access to Job Opportunities. http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/docs/transportation/getting-to-work-july20.pdf

** Benner, Chris and Pastor, Manuel. 2012. Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions. http://justgrowth.org/

Just Growth, Measure M, transportation equity

Agenda for #JustGrowth: Healthy, Sustainable, and Equitable Mobility


If you live in Los Angeles County, you’ve probably heard about — or have experienced — some of the most challenging issues with mobility we need to solve in Los Angeles County.

Yes, traffic and congestion are important issues — but, for some of our most vulnerable neighbors and families, the issues with transportation are so intertwined with housing, jobs, school and household income that we can’t afford to ignore them any longer.

Some of these crucial issues preventing our region from growing stronger are:

  1. Our housing crisis is worsening (long-time families are being displaced and living further away from job centers),
  2. The costs that the average family is spending on housing and transportation is going up (many have to take on multiple jobs in order to survive),
  3. Youth who are poor in Los Angeles County (areas that are mostly low-income communities and communities of color) face the worst odds getting out of poverty, and
  4. The access to quality careers near major transit, especially for our most vulnerable residents, is looking bleak (but getting better with more awareness on connecting people experiencing homelessness and our veterans to entry-level jobs).

Leading With a Just Growth Agenda

To help build a stronger region and economy, we are developing a draft #JustGrowth advocacy agenda with six key policy outcomes. We’re using guidance from our Transportation Equity Technical Work Group, the policymakers who participated in our Just Growth Forum in November 2016, and the elected officials and policymakers who shared their thoughts at last week’s breakfastBut, we want feedback from anyone in Los Angeles County.

These six outcomes will guide our work on the 2017 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), Measure M guidelines, Metro Strategic Plan, and other upcoming policy opportunities. In each of these opportunities, we seek to set measurable objectives and align public investment directly to achieving those goals:

  1. Metro promotes access to opportunity by concentrating and prioritizing investments in communities with the greatest need.
  2. Metro engages the community as a partner in developing the transportation system.
  3. Metro supports economically stable and culturally diverse neighborhoods by promoting integrated transportation and land use policy.
  4. Metro invests in a frequent network of bus and rail transit service.
  5. Metro leads on transportation safety throughout Los Angeles County.
  6. Metro builds an integrated, connected, and sustainable transportation system.

Next Steps

Throughout February, we’ll highlight each draft outcome in a blog post. We invite your questions, comments, and critiques. Please email us any thoughts, suggestions, and questions: jessica@investinginplace.org.

Also, we hope our Transportation Policy Advocacy Resource Manual can be of use to you, your advocacy, and your organization.

To dive deeper into how we plan to advocate for #JustGrowth, please feel free to register for our first work group meeting next week on Thursday, February 16 2:30-4PM.

Just Growth, Measure M, Public Participation, transportation equity

Next steps: Metro seeking nominations for new Policy Advisory Council


We are inspired by the steps Metro is implementing to broaden the voices and leaders at the table for the implementation of Measure M and the development of the 2017 Long Range Transportation Plan.

One of the big themes of the “Just Growth” movement is inclusiveness and community-based participation in advocating for better and more equitable policies. We spoke about this in depth at our Just Growth forum held last November 2016.

On that note, we encourage all our partners who are interested in serving on this Advisory Policy Council to attend Metro’s upcoming meeting on February 2nd from 1-3pm in Metro’s Board room (Union Station – 1 Gateway Plaza, 3rd Floor). This is a public meeting, all are welcome to attend.

The newly created Policy Advisory Council will have members drawn from three key categories: Consumers, Providers, and Jurisdictions. screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-12-31-12-pm

All members are being ask to serve as a representative voice for the appointed category, have access to resources to reach out to a variety of stakeholders, have resources to staff the meeting, and ensure regular attendance of policy meetings. Metro sent interested stakeholders letters on the formation of the Policy Advisory Council yesterday (see the packet Investing in Place received here) that included background, descriptions, as well as a nomination form.

If you did not get a letter and are interested in applying to serve on the Council – this is an important question to ask at the upcoming meeting on February 2nd from 1-3pm in the Metro Board Room.

We hope you’ll join us and help broaden the voices and perspectives in our transportation policies and investments to reflect the entire region and all of those who call it home.

For details on latest Measure M updates — see our previous blog post: Measure M Guidelines Update and initial recommendations.

Just Growth, Measure M

Measure M Guidelines: Updates and initial recommendations


In November, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure M, generating significant new investment in the region’s transportation system. The Measure M ordinance included an expenditure plan outlining broad categories of expenditures and significant capital projects that Metro would commit to build over the next 50 years. (We analyzed the draft and final expenditure plan in March and June, respectively.)

Now that Measure M has passed, attention is turning to implementation. At the December 2016 board meeting, Metro CEO Phil Washington outlined an inclusive process for developing policies and guidelines through the creation of a new Advisory Council comprised of public, private, and nonprofit partners.

We are excited to see that the spirit of the Measure M coalition — a true team effort by champions all across the county — will continue in the implementation phase and the development of the 2017 Long Range Transportation Plan. In a follow up to the CEO’s Board presentation, Metro has produced two key memos outlining the timeline and processes for Measure M guidelines and the development of the new Advisory Council.

We encourage you to read these memos – they are filled with details and timelines on these critical processes:

What are the top 4 things we took away from them?

  1. Measure M draft guidelines are scheduled to be released in March 2017 for comments and finalized for adoption by the Metro Board in June 2017. Now is the time to start thinking about your recommendations and providing them to Metro.
  2. In addition to the Taxpayer oversight committee, a new Policy Advisory Council is being formed in early 2017 with three categories of key appointees: consumers, providers, jurisdictions. This Advisory Council will be in place to review and comment on draft Measure M guidelines as well as policy input  as the 2017 Metro Long Range Transportation Plan. This is huge. This is not business as usual but a clear and powerful step towards rethinking stakeholder participation especially from existing bus riders, community voices and more – in the implementation of public works. Awesome.
  3. Developing the Masterplan document for the Measure M guidelines is going to have multiple elements and programs to address such as: Administrative, Oversight, Assessments and Amendments, Transit Operations, Highway and Transit Subregional Programs, State of Good Repair, Local Return and other programs. This will be a big lift, and impact hundreds of millions of public funds – something to watch and provide your input on.
  4. Among the many critical policy decisions and committee appointments to be made, two key opportunities we are paying close attention to are the subregional programs and local return, in which Metro must balance accountability to regional outcomes with local autonomy over decision-making.

We applaud Metro and all our regional transportation leaders for these steps forward to ensure inclusivity and transparency as we prepare to implement the big plans and programs from Measure M. It is inspiring.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 4.27.00 PM.pngWith the master guidelines process kicking off this month, Investing in Place is starting to develop some benchmarks ideas for how Metro can maximize the value of these guidelines in ensuring that Measure M investments support healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities. These ideas are intended to illustrate the potential in this process, but aren’t exhaustive by any means.

Share your ideas by emailing us at jessica@investinginplace.org and signing up for our Just Growth workgroup — a workgroup that will be meeting this month to discuss the guidelines, advisory council and the 2017 LRTP. This will be an active workgroup as we work to share information and increase coordination around efforts at Metro. All are welcome to join this workgroup. Join us as we develop our ideas and input.

Here’s our initial ideas, feel free to take a look and let us know what you think:

Measure M Master Guidelines should:

  • Set performance goals for all Measure M programs consistent with board-adopted performance measures: Mobility, Accessibility, Safety, Economy, Sustainability
    • Require data collection for all projects/programs to track outcomes
  • Clarify applicability of Metro policies to Measure M funding programs:
    • Complete Streets Policy
    • First/Last Mile (Motion 14.1, 14.2)
    • Urban Greening
    • Title VI (Transportation Equity)
    • Public Participation
  • Clarify eligibility of active transportation and travel demand management (TDM) in all funding programs

Regional Program Guidelines (e.g. Countywide Active Transportation, Countywide BRT, Transit Operations, ADA/Student/Senior Transit, State of Good Repair, System Connectivity) should:

  • Require all projects to comply with Metro Complete Streets Policy, including completion of checklist, documented exceptions process with Metro approval, stakeholder input
  • Require all projects to assess opportunities for urban greening
    • Metro should provide checklist and/or guidance
  • Require all programs to include data collection/performance measurement plan to track progress toward Mobility, Accessibility, Safety, Economy, Sustainability objectives
    • Metro should standardize data collection practices, as needed
  • Require all program guidelines to include targeted stakeholder engagement plan
    • Each program should focus outreach to intended beneficiaries, e.g. transit operations guidelines should include outreach to bus riders

Subregional Program Guidelines (e.g. South Bay Mobility Program, Subregional Active Transportation Programs (multiple subregions), First/Last Mile & Complete Streets Programs (multiple subregions), Subregional Transit Programs (multiple subregions), Arterial/Highway Programs (multiple subregions), Multimodal Connectivity Programs (multiple)) should:

  • Require all projects to comply with Metro Complete Streets Policy, including completion of checklist, documented exceptions process with Metro approval, stakeholder input
  • Require all projects to assess opportunities for urban greening
    • Metro should provide checklist and/or guidance
  • Require all subregional programs to include data collection/performance measurement plan to track progress toward Mobility, Accessibility, Safety, Economy, Sustainability objectives
    • Metro should standardize data collection practices, as needed
    • Metro should produce annual report of project delivery status and progress toward performance objectives for each subregional program
  • Require all subregional program guidelines to include targeted stakeholder engagement plan
  • Give each subregion the option of establishing competitive or collaborative project selection processes for subregional programs, consistent with Mobility, Accessibility, Safety, Economy, Sustainability objectives
    • Subregional program guidelines may require a funding match from local jurisdictions to ensure funding goes to projects where local partners are willing to demonstrate commitment and partnership
  • Require Metro board adoption for subregional program guidelines and amendments
  • Require Metro board approval of projects recommended by subregion
    • Board approval should occur either via a regular (e.g. quarterly) submissions process or on an as-needed basis

Local Return Guidelines should:

  • Accelerate implementation of local plans that are consistent with countywide goals (e.g. Climate Action Plans, Vision Zero, Safe Routes to School) by prioritizing smaller “early action” projects
  • Support local planning for complete streets, such as creating/updating Safe Routes to School Plans, ADA Transition Plans, Active Transportation Plans, and general plan circulation elements to comply with the Complete Streets Act of 2008

Unanswered questions:

Something that we’re wondering about Measure M Guidelines is where in this document can we address tackling development without displacement? Where in this process can we advocate and support increase coordination with the implementation of Measure M projects and local housing policies?  

Have ideas and strategies  — let us know! Email me jessica@investinginplace.org or consider joining our Just Growth workgroup today !

Resources

Welcome Amanda Meza to Investing in Place Staff


amanda-mezaWe are excited to welcome Amanda Meza to the Investing in Place team as our Advocacy and Policy Associate!

Amanda is the third full-time staffer at Investing in Place and will be leading our work groups (Just Growth, Completing Streets, and Community-Responsive Governance) and our policy and legislative efforts. She brings years of experience as a teacher, community organizer, and former legislative staffer with a California Assembly Office.

Please feel free to reach out to her and welcome her to the team! You can email her at amanda@investinginplace.org and follow her on Twitter here.

Thank you to everyone who applied and interviewed with our team. As we build a better Los Angeles County, we’re so grateful to everyone who supports our work.

Onward and upward,

Jessica Meaney

P.S. For reference, here’s Amanda’s bio: Amanda Meza is the Advocacy and Policy Associate with Investing in Place. As a former teacher and community organizer at heart, Amanda is deeply rooted in a vision of engagement at the local and state level to create the systemic change necessary for stronger communities.

Amanda has worked in the California legislature focusing on environmental justice legislation like AB 2153 that resulted in the largest continuous source of funding for the clean-up of Exide in Southeast Los Angeles. Previously, Amanda organized parents around issues regarding clean streets, more jobs, and a higher minimum wage. In this role, she was able to engage over 1,800 parents at the Los Angeles Convention Center to rally behind a unified agenda before elected officials and community leaders.

In her free time, Amanda serves on the regional strategy team for Angelenos Organizing for Education (AO4E), a coalition of teachers, parents, and students focused on creating education equity here in Los Angeles. Her most favorite thing, though, are long walks with her baby pitbull Blue and fiancé Gene.