It's a new year and we are ready to go: We're gearing up our Vision 2020 Strawman to clean SoCal air and abate climate change by modernizing key regional transportation infrastructure. We've got a new plan to win truly universal student transit passes that dramatically boost transit ridership. We've been meeting with the Aging and Disability Network we helped organize. And we're looking for other ways to fund affordable housing, such as creating a TOD/TIF along underutilized commercial boulevards that would spend half the tax increment on affordable housing, and half on urban greening and first-last-mile improvements—all of this along what could become "Grand Boulevards" with high-frequency transit.
(Yes that photo is of the Third Street Promenade, the creation of which was led by Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane when he was on the Santa Monica City Council. It's not a Grand Boulevard but it incorporates many of the same ideas.)
We're eager for feedback on the Grand Boulevards and TOD/TIF idea so please consider coming to our "Community Development Chat-Fest" on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at the Helms Design Center in Culver City, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
This event doubles as MOVE LA'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!!! Yes! You read that right: It's been 10 years since we first brought together a broad-based coalition that agreed to do something about LA's infamous traffic congestion and provide alternatives to driving—which we are doing, with the help of Measure R (2008) and Measure M (2016). Then we broadened our mission to eradicate homelessness in LA County by helping LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with Measure H (2017).
Now we are working with this ever-expanding coalition to focus on another goal we've had since the beginning: ensuring that housing affordable to core transit riders gets built near transit corridors and stations to help mediate gentrification and displacement as well as traffic, and to build healthier communities with a mix of incomes and a mix of uses that also promote the success of the transit system.
You can read more about this idea here, and please do consider attending our Chat-Fest to talk about it. Yes a $100 donation is recommended but it's not mandatory—you could pledge to become a monthly supporter for a smaller donation instead. And please tell us if you'd be interested in helping us host and/or sponsor and/or underwrite future events like this by contacting Marisa Garcia at 310-310-2390, ext. 5!
We're also developing exclusive website content on new developments in SoCal transit and housing policy for Move LA donors. Coming very soon.
WHAT WE MOST WANT TO SAY ON THE BRINK OF 2018 THANK YOU ALL! We are honored to have worked with so many dedicated elected officials (especially LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas) and with so many civic-minded voters, all the Metro board members and Metro staff, and especially with our ever-expanding coalition of civic leaders, organizations and advocates.
We are also grateful for the warm partnership we have with Community Partners President and CEO Paul Vandeventer and his staff—this is the organization that as our fiscal sponsor literally keeps us in business along with more than 150 other nonprofit projects in California and beyond.
And we want to extend an extra special thanks to all our sponsors, funders and partners — your support is essential to our work!
We are thankful not only for the richness of all these partnerships and collaborations but also for the victories we’ve been able to achieve together—Measure R (2008) and Measure M (2016) for transit, and Measure H (2017) to end homelessness in LA County.
So what's next LA County? What’s next SoCal? What should our next great transportation mission be? Should we finally get serious about cleaning our air and halting climate change? Should we get serious about building affordable neighborhoods near transit where you don't have to own a car, and boosting transit ridership by providing discounted passes to those who need them most?
We are drawn to big ideas—read about them here—and that’s especially why we appreciate your support (consider becoming a monthly sponsor!) and your work with us.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM MOVE LA! MAY ALL YOUR DAYS BE MERRY AND BRIGHT!
Denny joined the distinguished ranks of the Durfee Foundation Stanton Fellowship award winners on Monday! The ceremony was full of brief but highly inspirational and emotional speeches by 6 previous Durfee Sabbatical winners and the 6 new Stanton Fellows that were so moving there wasn't a dry eye in the place. The Durfee Stanton Fellowship provides a 3-month paid leave over 2 years to "support these magnificent people who want to change the world and then just go out and do it," Durfee Executive Director Claire Peeps told the audience.
Other Stanton Fellowship award-winners included Manal Aboelata, Managing Director of the Prevention Institute; Shane Goldsmith, President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation; Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center; Mary Lee, Deputy Director of PolicyLink; and Molly Rysman, Housing and Homelessness Deputy for LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Denny intends to use the sabbatical to investigate strategies for a "Grand Boulevards" program that would promote the creation of mixed-use and mixed-income multi-family housing along currently underutilized commercial streets that are now or will be designated as corridors for high-quality "bus rapid transit" (BRT) service. The goal is to provide one more solution to the intractable affordable housing crisis and to create more neighborhoods where people won't need to own a car.
Denny plans to investigate a number of ideas that have been suggested by constituency leaders to reduce the cost of construction and provide for investment in improvements like urban greening that would make these neighborhoods desirable places in which to live. These include:
- the creation of tax increment financing zones, with half the increment to be used for affordable housing and half for urban greening, bike lanes, better bus stops, crosswalks and improved sidewalks, etc., to enhance street life
- detached public-private parking structures—with groundfloor retail and live-work spaces—with the goal of reducing the cost of construction because developers wouldn't have to build parking
- and the controversial idea of providing a categorical CEQA exemption for multi-family housing located close to transit and with no more than 50-60 units, 20% of which is deed-restricted affordable housing—with the goal of encouraging moderate-density development that is likely to win the approval of neighbors.
"Land prices along many of these underutilized corridors are likely to be lower, and if construction costs are lower and the approval process is made easier, that will also keep costs down for developers. And if these corridors are truly livable then the creation of mixed- or middle-income neighborhoods becomes possible," says Denny.
Denny has experience with this kind of development, having played a major role in the development of the mixed-use Third Street Promenade while on the Santa Monica City Council, and also planning for more than 2,000 units of moderate-density housing (with more than 30% affordable) in downtown Santa Monica in buildings that averaged 5 or 6 stories. Denny began his career doing rent-control campaigns in Santa Monica and founding Santa Monica's for Renters Rights, which has maintained Santa Monica's progressive agenda over 4 decades.
Move LA’s Transportation Conversation #9 was – like our 8 previous conversations - a big success! We have heard plaudits across the spectrum for the quality of leadership represented by our featured speakers and the highly substantive and future-oriented discussions from our panelists.Read more
What's Next, LA? The Unfinished Business on Transit, Affordable Housing, Clean Air & Climate Change Headline Move LA's 9th Annual Transportation Conversation
After the victories of Measures R + M + H, we approach Move LA's 9th Annual Transportation Conversation and our 10th year as an organization asking, “What’s Next, LA?” The Conference agenda is structured around our action program. We will discuss new challenges from affordable housing near transit to transit ridership, goods movement, clean air and climate change, and addresses them with the same thoughtful, future-oriented, pro-active, results-oriented, and comprehensive solutions that we have always looked to achieve.
8:30 AM WELCOME: Let's Celebrate the Bold New LA! Victories of Measures R+M+H
8:45 AM OUR NEXT CHALLENGES FEATURING:
- State Senator Ricardo Lara, 33rd District
- State Senator Fran Pavley (ret.), 27th District
9:30 AM WE HAVE TRANSIT CHALLENGES AND WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Plenary panel with transit leaders representing seniors, students, environmentalists, people with disabilities, active transit, and Metro
10:40 AM CAN LA COUNTY CREATE A TRULY EQUITABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MODEL WITH OUR TRANSIT SYSTEM?
- Plenary panel with non-profit and for-profit developers, funders, business, community development, governmental, renters rights, and equitable community advocates
12:15 PM MOVE LA HONORS THE FIVE TRANSITEERS ON MEASURE M
- Presentation to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Mike Antonovich (ret.), Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Pro Tem John Fasana, and Metro CEO Phil Washington
12:55 PM WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH MEASURE M IMPLEMENTATION?
- Stephanie Wiggins, Deputy CEO of LA Metro
1:15 PM WHEN LA LEADS, THE WORLD WATCHES!
- Tom Steyer, Founder and President, NextGen America
1:35 PM CAN WE FINISH OUR TRANSPORTATION AND CLEAN AIR CHALLENGES?
- Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, LA County Board of Supervisors; SCAQMD Governing Board
1:55 PM CAN WE FIND A GRAND BARGAIN ON GOODS MOVEMENT THAT WILL CONQUER AIR POLLUTION & CLIMATE CHANGE?
- Plenary panel with business, labor, environmentalist, transit, clean technology, goods movement, trucking, transit, and public interest advocates
4:30 PM CLOSING REMARKS
- Denny Zane, Move LA Executive Director
At the 11th hour, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 17, the student transit pass program introduced by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and co-sponsored by Move LA, Transform, Public Advocates, and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.
While we are deeply disappointed by this news, we actually found hope in the Governor’s veto message:
“Many transit agencies, including the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, already have a variety of reduced-fare transit programs for students. Before we create this new statewide program, I think we should have a fuller discussion on how local transit discount programs work and how any new ones should be paid for.”
Rather than a step back in our campaign to make it easier for students to access educational opportunities via public transit, we are buoyed by the fact that the Governor did not close the door on this program and is open to discussing it during the last year of his term. AB 17 was originally introduced with $100 million in funding which was whittled down to $20 million. This amount was then stripped at the last moment from the bill and, while our coalition of organizations tried to find monies elsewhere, we were unsuccessful and the bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, but without a funding source.
Not only does the governor’s veto message suggest an opportunity for dialogue, but we are in conversations with LA Metro staff about revising the current program, which has grown significantly but not enough to make a dent in ridership. We hope they will pilot a new program model that has seen major success at colleges across the country. This LA Metro pilot could provide passes to all students so that students there can ride any line, any time. We think this idea has the potential to jumpstart student ridership in a significant way (25-40%!) and look forward to launching that program.
Alameda County just finished its 1st year of a similar affordable student transit pass program pilot and saw a very significant increase in ridership and decline in student absenteeism.
So, in a way, the Governor has a point. We need to have a fuller discussion on local transit discount programs for students (which we are having) and finding the money to support it (which we are seeking). Even if the Governor had signed AB 17, it would have been a program without a dedicated funding source, and so the effort would have continued to next legislative session anyways.
We are grateful to the hundreds of activists and 80+ organizations that supported AB 17 in a true coalition effort. We hope you will stick with us as we fight for better access to education through our public transit system for the millions of students in California.
Our ambition is to make prepaid transit passes available to every college student in LA County so that they can ride for free all over the county—not just to school—a strategy that will boost transit ridership,provide traffic relief, and maybe create transit riders for life!
The opportunity for a truly “universal” student transit pass program is 1 of several topics we’ll discuss at our 9th Annual Transportation Conversation at the LA Cathedral's Conference Center in downtown LA Oct. 27. Students are encouraged to attend and can get in free by registering HERE NOW!
We will also discuss building a broader coalition to boost transit ridership, developing more affordable housing near transit, and achieving our long-standing ambition to clean Southern California’s air at the same time we dramatically reduce the GHG emissions that cause climate change.
But we’re not all talk—we’re also about action: This month the California Legislature resoundingly endorsed AB 17, the discounted low-income student transit pass bill we sponsored—authored by Asm. Chris Holden, D-Pasadena—passing it off the floor of the Assembly 76-2 and the Senate 37-2! This bill could help create a universal student pass program here.
Will Governor Brown sign the bill? He has until Oct. 15. Please sign our petition HERE and give his office a call at 916-445-2841 ext. 4. Tell the staff member who answers that you urge the governor to sign AB 17 into law! It takes only a few minutes.
We believe it’s only a matter of time before a truly effective universal transit pass program gets off the ground in LA County. Think of the ancillary benefits: Providing discounted passes not only to students but also seniors and people with disabilities helps reduce the cost of living, improves mobility, access to opportunity, and quality of life, and will train a new generation of transit riders who may then make decisions about where to live and work depending on whether there’s transit access.
Move LA staff has been hard at work lobbying for dollars to create sustainable communities for all through affordable housing, active transit, rail investment and more! And thanks to the kind invitation of Senator Ben Allen, a long-time friend of Move LA and public transportation, Denny Zane and Eli Lipmen were invited to visit the Senate Floor during a Floor Session - what a special treat!
We've have flown up to Sacramento twice over the past couple of weeks to join organizations from across California advocating for funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. This money comes from California's cap-and-trade program, which was recently reauthorized, that provides tradable credits to polluters who can then trade and purchase them in a marketplace. The proceeds from the auction go towards critical funding programs to reach California's ambitious climate change goals, and the annual appropriations amount for 2017-2018 is over $1.4 billion (in addition to the continuously appropriated funds for such things as transit capital, transit operations, affordable housing, and high-speed rail).
The "Sustainable Communities for All" Coalition, which Move LA helped to create several years ago, is an equity-focused coalition supporting GGRF appropriations that assist in reaching the state's SB 32 greenhouse gas reduction goals through the creation of vibrant and inclusive communities, consistent with AB 1550, SB 535, and AB 398. The priority programs reduce greenhouse gasses, deliver economic benefits to resource-poor households, create and sustain jobs to boost our economy and promote public health and environmental justice.
Members of the Sustainable Communities For All Coalition received a special welcome on the Assembly Floor!
While in Sacramento we lobbied members and their staff from both the California State Senate and Assembly to support appropriations for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which funds transit-oriented affordable housing programs, and the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and Low Carbon Transit Operations program, which supports local and regional rail and transit capital and operations. We spoke about these important items at the Senate Budget Subcommittee 2 on the Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy, and Transportation. The Coalition also lobbied for urban forestry and greening, low-income weatherization, and active transportation programs to expand biking and walking options.
One of Move LA's priority programs is the AB 17 (Holden) student transit pass program. This excellent proposal, currently being considered in the California Senate, would provide discounted transit passes to low-income students to increase mode-shift and transit ridership among the next generation of potential life-long riders. Along with the nonprofits Transform and Public Advocates, Move LA is one of the top supporters of this critical legislation. In fact, we are encouraging supporters to sign our petition which we will deliver to legislators and the Governor!
We are hoping that between money allocated through the normal budget process, along with $50 million in GGRF funds, we can establish a robust program for students across the State that will help reduce costs for low-income people, increase life-long ridership, and reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and congestion by getting people out of their cars!
While many people have heard of Move LA, they frequently don’t understand our role in building the broad coalition that convinced LA Metro to place Measures R and M on the ballot and provide the support to help LA Mayors Garcetti and Villaraigosa gain the 2/3 voter support needed to pass them.
So it was gratifying to read an article in The American Prospect titled, “The Great Los Angeles Revolt Against Cars,” that speaks directly to Move LA’s role in changing mobility in Los Angeles County. From Executive Director Denny Zane’s inspiration for Move LA to what comes next for our region, the article shows the critical role that Move LA has played in bringing bold changes to LA County. Here is an excerpt:
Zane got to work building the coalition. He brought together environmentalists looking to reduce carbon emissions from cars, labor unions seeking good jobs building rail, and business groups wanting better quality of life for employees and customers. He called the new organization Move LA. “We could have been laughed off, but we weren’t,” Zane says. “The first meeting, I invited 35 organizations and 34 showed up.” Some of these groups hadn’t worked together in years, if ever. They spent close to a year developing a workable plan...
Move LA’s plan proved compelling enough to persuade the Metro board to devise Measure R (for “relief”), which would go before voters on the November 2008 ballot. Metro’s board settled on a 30-year, half-cent sales tax increase, raising $30 billion to $40 billion for 12 specific rail, subway, and road projects. Zane initially balked at the regressive tax choice, but studies showed that businesses and tourists paid more than half of all sales taxes because of California’s many exemptions for necessities.
Eliminating emissions from Los Angeles Metro buses is a goal being set by the Metro Board at a meeting this week. At Move LA, we are in support of a goal of achieving zero emissions for the bus fleet by 2030. However, the decision the Board makes isn’t just about the Metro fleet - it is a much bigger issue. Pollution from transit operators accounts for less than 1% of overall NOx emissions. The biggest producer of harmful NOx emissions—which causes smog and creates huge health problems for children, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases—are heavy-duty trucks.
Transit operators are a testing ground for durability, reliability, cost and other factors for the heavy-duty trucking industry. Our Executive Director Denny Zane is quoted in this Los Angeles Times article saying that Metro must think bigger picture by purchasing both electric buses as well as near-zero emission natural gas buses powered by Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Transit fleets facilitate the deployment of clean advanced technologies in the much larger marketplace for heavy-duty trucks, which remain LA County’s biggest clean air challenge. The goal should be to "encourage the trucking and freight industry to make the same change.” That will only happen if truck operators believe that these zero and near-zero emissions engines and power systems are operationally ready. Metro can play a critical role in facilitating that change with their vote on Thursday.
Read the rest of the LA Times article on LA Metro’s plan for an emission-free fleet by 2030 and join us in October at our upcoming 9th Annual Conference as we discuss how we achieve emission-free fleet for all goods movements in the region.