Senator Ben Allen's SB 961 Passes Senate Governance and Finance 7-0 with Bipartisan Support

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The bill, which Move LA wrote and is sponsoring, would create "Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement (NIFTI-2) Districts" around rail stations and along high-frequency bus corridors These districts would collect the enhanced tax increment from increased property and sales taxes within the district and use these funds to invest in district improvements. 

The bill requires a NIFTI-2 district to dedicate 40% of the sales and property tax increment to deed-restricted affordable housing and 60% to transit capital including stations and programs promoting ridership, transit-oriented development, first-last-mile connections, active transportation, parks, urban greening and urban forestry, and detached/decoupled parking in new developments for residents, businesses, and visitors in lieu of on-site parking.

While these districts will require the concurrence of the county, unlike other "enhanced infrastructure finance (EIFD) districts there will be no voter approval required to issue bonds to implement a district plan.

Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), the bill's author, and committee Chair Mike McGuire (D-San Rafael) agreed on a set of amendments that will be incorporated into the bill at the committee hearing before Senate Transportation and Housing next week. HERE is a mockup of the bill with these amendments, though they are not yet in print. The amendments are HERE.

Move LA believes that the program as provided in the bill could provide a significant breakthrough in generating resources for affordable housing.

Funding would be available for detached parking structures with no more than one space per residential unit and for groundfloor space occupied by pedestrian-oriented commercial uses. Parking revenues may be used to implement transportation demand management programs to reduce trips.

The tax increment may also be used for other projects and programs to reduce GHG emissions and air pollution by reducing trips to and fron the district. Revenues are not to be used for highway improvements.

There's more info in the blog post further down the page, with links to our letter of support.

We'll keep you updated!

 


Student Transit Passes Again: The Budget Play! Now!

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Last year so many people, schools, organizations and local governments supported Asm. Chris Holden's student transit pass bill that one document listed more than 400. This year please add your logo to our sign-on letter of support (link is below) for a statewide program for discounted transit passes for low-income students at middle-schools, high schools, public colleges and universities.

Asm. Holden, our longtime student transit pass champion, has asked Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting to adopt budget language providing $50 million from the FY 2018-2019 budget to fund the program described in last year’s AB 17 (read the bill language HERE). The budget talks are beginning now, in advance of the “May revise” that alters the Governor’s budget based on the most recent economic forecasts. The ask will be made in Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3 chaired by Asm. Richard Bloom—a good friend to students and to transit passes!—next Wednesday, May 2. Come on by to Room 447 in the State Capitol at 9:30 a.m.! (Best to get us your logo by COB Friday if you can.)

We described this “budget play” in earlier emails: Holden’s 2018 student pass bill, AB 2304, is being held on suspense in Assembly Appropriations and will hopefully secure funding for a study by the UC-Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. This bill was in response to the Governor’s AB 17 veto message—which stated the Governor wanted “a fuller discussion of how local transit discount programs work and how any new ones should be paid for.”

The budget play is one way to fund a statewide transit pass program next year without waiting for the study to be completed. This is our third attempt to win funding, but the bill has won such broad and bipartisan support, and we’re obviously so determined, that we believe this is a path that could get us all the way to victory this year!

Download the sign-on letter HERE and if you want to sign on send us your organization's logo, or customize the letter to make it your own and email it to victor.munoz@asm.ca.gov in Holden’s office. We'll let you know what happens!

 


SB 961: 40% for Affordable Housing & Letter of Support by Wednesday?!?

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Move LA is very proud to be the sponsor of SB 961 by Senator Ben Allen with the goal of creating more housing in neighborhoods where transit riders can afford to live. SB 961 authorizes cities and counties to create tax increment financing districts—called "Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement Districts" (NIFTI-2)—that dedicate 40% of the sales and property tax increment to build or rehab affordable housing around rail stations and along bus corridors. The bill will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Wednesday April 25 and we ask for your support (SEE BELOW)!

Community redevelopment agencies used a similar tax increment financing tool to make investments in "blighted" neighborhoods (20% of the increment went to affordable housing) before the agencies were abolished in 2011. Since then local governments have struggled to find new ways to finance improvements that spur private investment and economic development and, especially, to help build affordable housing. The legislature has responded by creating several kinds of infrastructure finance districts, but none with the affordable housing commitments of SB 961 or the ability to bond against the tax increment without voter approval—which makes it more likely local governments will enact them.

SB 961 would provide an important new source of funding to address the housing shortage that is displacing so many people and contributing to the suffering of those who are living on the streets. And because it will result in more affordable housing near transit stations and stops it will also help boost transit ridership by making it easier for the people who ride transit the most to live close by. Half the affordable housing would be deed-restricted for people making less than 60% of area median income (AMI) and half for those making less than 30% of AMI or who are homeless. 

The rest of the revenue stream could be used for:

  • improvements to transit stations and bus stops
  • first-last-mile connections
  • active transportation
  • urban greening

The ultimate goal? Affordable, walkable, bike-able, mixed-use, mixed-income transit-oriented neighborhoods (that's a mouthful!). Read the bill language HERE. Download a sample/sign-on letter HERE. And download our letter of support HERE. If you want to sign on please send me your name, or if you are representing an organization send me your logo: gloria@movela.org.

 


Streetsblog: "Vision 2020 Would Go A Long Way Toward Electrification"

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We were very pleased to see Joe Linton's review on Streetsblog LA of our #Vision2020 initiative, which we discussed with industry and government leaders, including Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, at the LA Cleantech Incubator on Thursday. Joe wrote:

Move L.A., the non-profit credited with planting the seeds for Metro transportation tax ballot Measures R and M, has its sights on an ambitious new proposal. “Vision 2020” goals include ending air pollution and abating climate change. Among proposed Vision 2020 revenues would be a four-county sales tax; the four counties – L.A., Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange – are the ones included in the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Vision 2020 was the subject of a half-day conference this morning, hosted by Move L.A., CALSTART, and others. In her keynote at the event, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols stressed the need for a “massive transformation of our transportation system” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 99 percent. How to get there? “Electrify everything.”

The Vision 2020 proposal would go a long way towards electrification.

At this point, Vision 2020 is a “straw man” proposal – an early draft expected to change quite a bit as it becomes realized.

Move L.A.’s straw man proposal aims for ~$1.2 to ~$1.4 billion annually in revenue from a mix of sources: READ STREETSBLOG'S STORY HERE.  OR READ VISION 2020 HERE.


AB 2304 Passes Assembly Transportation 14-0!

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We’re off and running! It’s our 3rd try to get funding for a statewide student transit pass program! But we’ve been talking to the Governor’s Office and believe 2018 is the year Governor Brown will sign the bill, which passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee 14-0 on Monday.

The bill is likely to encounter little opposition on it's way through the Assembly as it merely asks for a study of existing student transit pass programs—in Governor Brown's veto letter last year he wrote he wanted to better understand how existing programs work and how new ones should be paid for. But we have had subsequent talks with his office that suggest he may be open to creating a pilot program.

In that case AB 2304 would become a spot bill when it reaches the Senate and the language changed to support a pilot program that could be expanded statewide. We do believe that there's a right and a wrong way to create programs that produce BIGTIME student ridership!

We will definitely need your support when/if the bill gets to the Senate! So stay tuned and be prepared to help when AB 2304 reaches the senate... (Here's a SAMPLE LETTER of support in Word so you can make changes (yellow highlighting suggests passages you can amend to reflect your priorities) and TALKING POINTS you can use to customize the letter, and here is the TEXT OF AB 2304.) Your letter becomes part of the package of support letters provided to each committee as the bill moves forward—so you only have to do this once!

Send to Victor.Munoz@asm.ca.gov. Call Gloria Ohland at Move LA, 2130-304-0444, if you have questions, or email gloria@movela.org.


If SB 827 Were Law When LA County's Measure M Was on the Ballot, It Would Have Failed!

DennyZaneSML_200.jpgDespite its stated goals of promoting transit-oriented development and improving affordability through dense new housing supply, nearly every housing justice organization in California has vehemently opposed SB 827. To unpack the impacts of the bill, TPR turned to two experts on transit and equitable development: Denny Zane, leading transit advocate, former mayor of Santa Monica and executive director of Move LA; and Cynthia Strathmann, executive director of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), a long-standing non-profit for equitable development and tenant rights in South Los Angeles. 

So begins the Planning Report's interview about SB 827, the bill that would dramatically upzone housing density within a half-mile of a rail station or a quarter-mile of a frequent bus route.


THE CALIFORNIA-STYLE SALES TAX—IS IT REGRESSIVE?

Some Californians bring up the presumed “regressive” nature of sales taxes because they believe lower-income people pay a higher proportion of their incomes on sales taxes than people who make more money. But, while low income Californians are not exempt from sales taxes, the state has done the next best thing. California’s sales tax exempts all the basic necessities of life, including LAThrives400.jpgrent and utilities, groceries, transit fares/passes, and health care and prescription medicines. 

Moreover businesses and tourists pay more than 2/3 of all sales taxes collected in LA County, while individual households pay just 1/3.

This was confirmed by a study by the LA County Economic Development Corporation in 2016, which found that: "Purchases of taxable goods by households in LA County generated $4.1 billion in sales taxes collected in 2013, approximately 32% of all sales taxes generated in the county. Tourist purchases generated an estimated $760 million in sales taxes—6% of the county total. The remaining sales tax revenues, an estimated $7.8 billion or 62% of the total, was paid by businesses and others not counted, such as day-trippers and in-commuters."

In addition, the nonpartisan Washington DC-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which periodically surveys the fairness of tax systems in all 50 states, says California taxes overall are the "second fairest in the U.S." The institute's most recent report on the topic, in 2015, found that "California has one of the least regressive tax systems due to its heavy reliance on a very progressive income tax." Only one other state, Delaware, was found to be more fair, along with the District of Columbia.

Move LA has championed several sales taxes in LA County to fund investments that significntly benefit low-income people as well as all other residents. Move LA campaigned for Measure R in 2008 and Measure M in 2016, which together are providing $160 billion over 40 years for transportation improvements—including significant funding for transit expansion and operations and for bike and pedestrian infrastructure. We also campaigned for Measure H in 2017, which provides $350 million/year for 10 years for homeless services throughout LA County.

 


Vision 2020: The Book!

blog4pgBanner.jpgOur new Vision 2020 presentation is like a big picture book for adults! It takes just a few minutes to understand our plan to meet Southern California's clean air challenge and abate climate change. And we hope it convinces you to buy in. It's our most ambitious plan yet. We are beginning the extended dialogue with our coalition partners that occurs before we can agree on a grand bargain about what to fund. SEE and DOWNLOAD it HERE!


The Future of Transportation in Los Angeles? We can see clearly now!

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The League of Women Voters asked us that question, so we put together this Powerpoint (HERE) to show members of the League what we see in our crystal ball: We will have ended air pollution and abated climate change in Southern California—seriously, it would only take one 4-county ballot measure (we have a plan!). And we will have created a system of Grand Boulevards on what are now underutilized commercial corridors, with frequent bus and bus rapid transit service, better sidewalks and bike lanes, and improved and safer bus stops with shade in the daytime and lighting at night (we are working on it). And we'll have replaced good, old-fashioned redevelopment with tax increment financing districts that provide the funding for mixed-use districts along these Grand Boulevards at bus stops and around rail stations—where people of all incomes can live, including those who ride transit most often! These so-called TOD-TIFs or "transit-oriented-development tax increment financing districts" will fund all kinds of improvements: affordable- and moderate-income housing, urban greening, first-last-mile connections and mobility hubs. If you don't believe it CLICK HERE to see what we have in mind!


It's 2018: Join Us Jan. 10 & Let's Dig In!

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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.



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