Join us to honor Tracy Hernandez, LA Biz Fed's transit champion!

The Los Angeles County Business Federation or BizFed, is a different kind of business organization—a network of existing business networks, a “federation” that dared support a sales tax increase in 2008 and again in 2016 (Measures R and M) even though businesses typically do not support tax increases (bad for business, the thinking goes).

But BizFed CEO Tracy Hernandez stepped up and out to support Measure R in the first months after she created the organization. Note that she and Denny Zane are the only two figures who appear in both Measure M and R photos—Tracy to the right of Mayor Garcetti up top and the left of Mayor Villaraigosa below.

Tracy's friend and mentor, David Fleming, then chair of the LA Chamber of Commerce, had suggested she take the lead in convening all LA’s business groups to work together as a united federation while at the same time maintaining their own autonomy. Fourteen years later BizFed has grown—with 450,000 members (more about that below).

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Join us to honor Long Beach Mayor Garcia: Urbanist. Populist. Optimist!

Mayor Robert Garcia has been a real asset to Long Beach—young, ambitious, articulate, openly gay and progressive. He won re-election to a second term with 80% of the vote, became a national figure while working with the Biden campaign, and earned recognition as a statewide leader in the fight against COVID-19 after establishing testing capacity for more than 1,900 people a day—twice the state’s requirement.

But he’s chosen to leave the Metro Board after just one term, leading to speculation about a possible national career. Others say it’s because Long Beach is a big city that requires all his attention: The city is home to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (one of the world’s largest ports), its own public health department and airport, the California State University system headquarters and Cal State Long Beach—the second largest campus in the CSU system.

And his mother—who was a hospital worker—and his step-father both died of COVID late last year. Move LA is sorry for that tragedy.

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Join us to toast former Metro Boardmember/former Duarte Mayor John Fasana!

John Fasana was elected to serve on the Metro Board in 1993, when Metro was a brand new agency—having replaced both the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency and the Rapid Transit District (RTD). When he retired last December Fasana had served on the board for 27 years, longer than any other boardmember. 

The 1990s were tumultuous: Construction of the subway had proven contentious, problematic even before it caused Hollywood Boulevard to sink by a foot. There were lengthy battles at rambunctious board meetings over which projects would be funded—the Blue Line to Pasadena? Crenshaw? Expo?—and whether Metro was shorting the bus system in favor of more glamorous rail projects.

Fasana together with his allies on the board and other officials in the San Gabriel Valley rescued the Blue Line to Pasadena, which Metro was considering canceling due to a shortage of funds. Working with then state Sen. Adam Schiff and other local politicians, they took the project and its funding away from LA Metro and created a new agency, now called the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority. That agency still manages the project, and has extended it first to Sierra Madre, then Azusa, and now Pomona—with conversations continuing about whether to extend it to Claremont and then Montclair in San Bernardino County and maybe eventually to Ontario Airport.

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Join us to toast Metro CEO Washington! Thursday, March 25, 5:30-7p.m.!

We consider Metro CEO Phil Washington a real hero for what he has done during his 7-year tenure at LA Metro, because he has used the funding voters provided with Measures R (2008) and M (2016) to turn the agency into one that is, as he told us on a Zoom call last August, “not just about mobility anymore, and not simply a big transit construction program.

"Now Metro is also about investing in communities—as well as new transit lines,” he said, “and delivering jobs, training programs, and small business assistance programs. While previously LA County had invested mostly in freeways to provide mobility, the Measure R and M era of investment is doing something very different: Now we are funding the construction of new transit lines with the goal of providing access to opportunity—education, jobs, healthcare—and to uplift disadvantaged and low-income communities.”

Please join us Thursday, March 25, 5:30-7 p.m., for a special networking event to honor Phil and other leaders who have taught LA to take on big challenges—like the need for better transit service, more affordable housing and curbing climate change. REGISTER HERE.

 

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Advocating for a More Equitable and Rider-Focused Budget at Metro

While one can easily get buried in LA Metro reports, plans, and proposals for public transit, the most important document every year is the budget, even though it is the hardest to understand. While certain expenditures were required by statute after voters passed Measures R and M, budgetary items like debt service on obligations, subsidy funding programs, overhead, revenue service hours, FTEs, carryover, and transportation infrastructure development are all quite opaque.

For the past couple of budget cycles, Move LA has been trying to get clarity on the budget in order to organize and advocate for one that is more transparent, sustainable, equitable, and rider-focused. The first year we were—in all honesty—caught flat-footed.

The Metro budget is not usually released until a few weeks prior to the Board vote when it is essentially a “done deal” because Metro has already been preparing for hires and projects that the not-yet-approved budget can fund. In 2019, for example, we called for more equity in decisions about transit infrastructure, more resources for bus operations, reductions in fares, and funding for discounted transit programs for students, seniors, and persons with disabilities—all aimed at increasing ridership. Read our letter to Metro here.

But while there were some small wins in that year’s budget, our efforts came too late and we didn’t have time to build enough community support to win significant changes. This did, however, arm us with a new understanding: 1) The budget process starts almost nine months before the Metro Board takes action, 2) making measurable changes to the budget requires a dedicated effort to build sufficient community support, and 3) an increase in funding for transit doesn’t necessarily mean that service—especially bus service—will be increased.

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Laying the Tracks for 2021

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With the doors closed on 2020 and the 'train' for 2021 already leaving the station, we meant to share with you—our biggest supporters—the vision and long-term goals for Move LA. But January was just so darn busy that the 'train' has already arrived at February!

In January we started laying the tracks for our 2021 agenda by leading a successful Zoom call on the challenges and opportunities of pursuing a climate and clean air funding initiative to clean the air and curb climate change. We chatted with experts and advocates about the need to address the often overlooked Super Pollutants (methane, black carbon, HFCs and tropospheric ozone), and how and why they have fallen off the climate agenda.

And then we hustled to help rally transit advocates and riders and convince the Metro Board to reallocate at least $24.3 million to fund the restoration of transit service in this fiscal year, to vaccinate transit workers, and to provide more affordable, accessible, frequent, safe and reliable service for LA riders. Most of these riders are essential workers from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods compromised largely of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color currently bearing the brunt of the COVID surge.

As the vaccines roll out and we see positive signs from a new Administration that shares our priorities on transit, housing, clean air, climate change, sustainability, and equity, we look to 2021 as an opportunity to make significant gains. As a coalition-building organization, we also recognize that this requires building—and flexing—community-driven power.

This is where you come in—can you join our monthly donor program and help to sustain Move LA’s work in 2021 and beyond? We are sustained by people just like you who believe deeply in our mission and our results.

Want to read more about our 2021 Work Agenda? Check out our recently updated website or keep reading for a summary of what is to come.

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ICYMI: Watch all 3 Climate & Clean Air Zoomposiums HERE

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Move CA—a project of Move LA—and our northern California partner SPUR just completed the third Zoom meeting in our three-part series to talk with elected officials, experts and advocates about our proposal for a major statewide funding initiative to clean the air and curb climate change. We have learned a lot, and we are sure those of you who joined us learned a lot too.

Below is a link to the video of that Zoom meeting and videos from the two Zoom meetings that preceded it. We'll follow up with a second e-blast on major take-aways from the most recent conversation, which was lively and rich with ideas about how to we can stave off this double threat to Planet Earth and all who live here.

The third Zoom meeting focused on Super Pollutants, also called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Scientists consider SLCPs to be our biggest and most important near-term opportunity in the battle against climate change, and that it is imperative to reduce them at the same time that we reduce CO2, for several reasons including:

  • SLCPs are much more powerful climate forcers than CO2. They include methane, black carbon, HFCs and tropospheric ozone, and are responsible for at least 40% of global warming.
  • But these super pollutants decay much more quickly than CO2—some in a matter of days, others in as many as 15 years, while CO2 can last 200 years or more.
  • If we prevent more Super Pollutants from entering the atmosphere, existing SLCPs will soon decay and we can actually roll back climate change. Scientists say that if we act quickly to reduce them we can roll back back climate change by as much as 0.6 degrees Celsius.
  • If we do this it will keep us within the boundaries that have been set internationally to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. 
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Short-Lived but Deadly Super Pollutants Causing Major Temperature Increases Around the World

Short-lived climate pollutants, super pollutants, climate forcers—whichever you want to call them—seem to have gotten lost in the quest to curb climate change by reducing CO2. But unless we reduce these super pollutants we will not be able to avoid the frightening increases in temperatures that are being experiencing around the world. (The ports of LA and Long Beach, below, are a major source of super pollutants.) 

Super pollutants are probably the most under-appreciated and dangerous contributors to climate change, perhaps because they lose their warming power quickly: CO2 causes increased temperatures for 50-100 years, with 20% remaining in the atmosphere for thousands of years, while short-lived climate pollutants do their damage over much shorter periods and then disappear.

We can tame these powerful but overlooked climate drivers. To learn how join us for our Climate & Clean Air Zoomposium #3, Thurs., Jan. 21, 10-12 noon. RSVP HERE!

Black carbon's lifetime in the atmosphere is days or weeks in length; methane lasts up to 12 years; HFCs, or hydrofluorcarbons, last 15 years on average. But the problem is that we keep on replacing them with new emissions—from landfills, wastewater treatment, dairies and livestock, diesel-powered vehicles and wildfires—and their global warming potential is far greater than that of CO2. 

Methane, the most abundant short-lived climate pollutant, is about 75 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2; black carbon is hundreds to thousands of time more potent; and HFCs are tens of thousands of times more potent.

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COVID is Devastating Transit and the People who Operate and Ride It

Over the last week, we have read with dismay the reports from Metro that it is experiencing staff shortages due to the regional surge in COVID-19 casesabout 30% of Metro’s bus operators are either being quarantined, are caring for family members, or have the coronavirus. This has resulted in canceled trips. As The Source describes, some days see certain bus lines impacted more than others, which is “likely to result in crowding.”

COVID-19 is devastating our community right now and Black and Brown communities are especially hard-hit. Add Metro’s reduced bus service to the equation and the very people who depend on the bus to get to their jobs—many of them deemed “essential”—are being stranded at the moment they need reliable service the most.

Our friends at the TransitCenter wrote an important report on this very topic—about who is at risk of losing access to high-quality transit service as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates.

This is why we have been working with a group of inspiring transit advocates from across the United States to fight for public transit operations funding in the federal government’s relief bill. And we have been successful—the COVID relief bill that passed in December 2020 (which got so much press mostly about whether it would include $600 or $2000 stimulus checks) also included $14 billion for transit agencies and $10 billion for state transit agencies. Transit agencies and municipal bus operators in the Southern California region (inclusive of LA County, Long Beach, and Anaheim) will receive approximately $955 millionSimilar to the CARES Act, the supplemental funding will be provided at 100-percent federal share, with no local match required, and directs recipients to prioritize payroll and operational needs.

 

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What the Experts Told Us at Our 2nd Climate & Clean Air Initiative Zoomposium

We've been meeting with California's climate and clean air experts in order to undertstand where the state is in regard to goals for reducing climate and air pollution, what the state needs to ensure we meet or exceed these goals, and whether our proposed climate and clean air funding initiative could raise the money needed to accelerate our progress.

Unfortunately, we are not alone in questioning whether we are on track to meet or exceed California’s climate and clean air goals, which include:

  • The SB 32 target to reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030;
  • Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order that all sales of light-duty cars and trucks be zero-emission by 2035, all off-road vehicles and equipment sales be zero emission by 2035 “where feasible,” and all medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero-emission by 2045 “where feasible”;
  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) first-in-the-world mandate, the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, requires manufacturers to sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of sales starting in 2024. By 2035, 55% of all light-duty truck sales must be zero-emission and 75% of all medium- and heavy-duty truck sales must be zero-emission, and by 2045 every truck sold in California must be zero-emission.

Below are key takeaways from the conversation we had with nine panelists in early December, which focused on transportation, climate and clean air. The names of all nine panelists pictured above are listed at the end of this blog post. Our major take-aways from the event are below:

We must think about the climate change challenge together with air pollution and environmental and labor justice: 

The transportation sector in California is the primary source of both the pollutants that dirty our air and the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to climate change. The transportation sector—vehicles and fuels—is responsible for more than half of California’s GHG emissions, and more than 80% of the nitrous oxides (NOx) and other air pollutants that directly impact human health and hit low-income neighborhoods and communities of color the hardest. Air pollution, especially diesel emissions, is so impactful on these “frontline communities” because they are often located adjacent to busy freeways, ports, distribution centers, and railyards—where the heavy-duty diesel-powered trucks that emit the most air pollution and much of our GHG emissions operate. Cleaning up heavy-duty long-haul trucks—which are about one-eighth of all trucks in the South Coast Air District but produce about half of all diesel truck emissions—is especially important and will provide these communities with the most significant air quality, public health, and environmental justice benefits. 

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