What is this new national movement for transit justice?

Most of us understand that the U.S. has made inadequate investments in transit and the transit workforce for decades—even the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has maintained the old 80-20 funding split with the big money going to highways. In the meantime low-income riders and transit workers have been bearing the brunt of fare hikes, service cuts and shutdowns due to COVID.

Early in the pandemic Move LA began working with the TransitCenter, a foundation that works to improve public transit across the U.S., and then joined the National Campaign for Transit Justice, created in response to COVID and the resulting economic crisis. We wanted to help save transit by advocating for more transit funding in Congress and because LA Metro—like other agencies and their riders and drivers all over the U.S.—was bearing much of the brunt of this crisis.

It's important to remember that the well-being of transit and transit riders, drivers and other workers, helps power the economy, and the success of transit has a serious impact on the future of the planet. The new IPCC report on climate change released this week confirmed, once again, that the planet is warming at an ever increasing pace.

We also began working with the national Labor Network for Sustainability, which is building a powerful labor-environmental-climate movement to "secure an ecologically sustainable and economically just future where everyone can make a living on a living planet."

These organizations believe that abundant transit can unlock freedom of movement, which unlocks access to opportunity. But, as these organizations remind us, good transit is very scarce in the U.S. today, and recent cuts to Metro's transit service prove that as with agencies all across the country, transit is threatened at a time when—because of climate change—we need it the most.

The Labor Network for Sustainability and the TransitCenter together with the Alliance for a Just Society, another organization we've begun working with, released a report on Feb. 4, Transit Justice Day, explaining how inadequate investments in the transit workforce have resulted in service cuts across the country. These investments are urgently needed to boost economic opportunity and racial equity.

The inequities and pollution of a car-centric system requires real fixes. The infrastructure bill can help—depending on how the money is spent. The 80-20 split is problematic, but there are significant amounts of money that states and transit agencies can use for whatever they want. 

We believe that car trips must become trips that can instead be made via bus and train and walking and biking. More transit will get more workers to jobs, provide more employer access to the workforce, and more customer access to businesses. Making streets safer for walking and biking and building more housing adjacent to transit in neighborhoods with sidewalks, bike lanes and bus-only lanes is critical.

Move LA and 113 other organizations across the U.S. just sent a letter to President Biden and members of Congress on Feb. 22 asking them to do everything they can to deliver the infrastructure bill's historic investment in our transportation systems and infrastructure—especially the $39 billion earmarked for public transportation. We are concerned because procedural challenges are making it hard to deliver the money that transit agencies so desperately need.

Sadly, we are still a very long way from, as the National Campaign for Transit Justice points out, "achieving funding parity between the automobile and transit." And climate change won't wait.


Will billions in infrastructure funding for highways worsen climate change?

That was the headline in The New York Times earlier this week, and it's a big and very real concern because the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law gives states $273 billion for highways over five years with few strings attached. And, the Times wrote: "there are signs that even states with ambitious climate goals, like Washington, Illinois and Nevada hope to use federal funds to expand roadways..."

What is California is going to do with all that money? And how can we ensure funding will be used to reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions? Join us to hear what our panel of experts say: 

U.S. Representative Jimmy Gomez voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law believing it will be transformational, delivering the President’s “promise of a cleaner, more resilient, more equitable future for working families in LA and across the country.” He represents the 34th Congressional District, one of the most diverse and culturally rich in the country. He is Vice Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and serves as an Assistant Whip for the House Democratic Caucus. 

Chad Edison is Chief Deputy Secretary, Rail and Transit at the California State Transportation Agency, or CalSTA. He's been working on rail and transit for more than two decades, beginning at Amtrak in 1996 as a consulting manager and senior transportation consultant, then working at AECOM from 2001 to 2010. He served as a transportation industry analyst at the Federal Railroad Administration from 2010 to 2014, and began working at CalSTA as Deputy Secretary for Transportation at 2014. He was  appointed Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit in 2019.

Beth Osborne is the Director of Transportation for America in Washington DC. Previously she was at the U.S. Department of Transportation, serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy. At DOT, she managed the TIGER Discretionary Grant program, the Administration’s surface transportation authorization proposal, and the implementation of MAP-21. Before joining DOT, Beth was policy director for Smart Growth America.

Anne-Marie Otey is Communications Director for the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 140,000 skilled and trained men and women in 48 local unions and district councils. Otey oversees the Council’s monthly newsmagazine, “Building Trades News,” digital strategy and campaign outreach, and is a member of Operating Engineers Local 12. She began her career as a journalist but then return to her political roots to fight for income equality.

Katherine Perez integrates Arup’s services in the context of the city—advising on both strategy and economics, and on planning and finance. She also teaches at USC’s Graduate School of Policy, Planning and Development with a focus on transit-oriented development and in planning and development. She was a co-founder of Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors, which addressed problems experienced by government and businesses with a focus on sustainability, economic development, transportation, planning, housing and community engagement.

Zahirah Mann is President and CEO of SLATE-Z, leads the "Backbone Team" to guide partnership activities of the South LA Promise Zone, and has led several successful initiatives to advance greater opportunities for LA residents. Previously she worked in philanthropy for the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, overseeing grants to support vulnerable children and families, and as a public interest attorney, and has represented entities ranging from Legal Aid to NRDC.

Heather Repenning is the Executive Officer of Sustainability Policy at LA Metro and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at the Metropolitan Water District. She is also the former Vice President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, overseeing the management of solid resources, wastewater, stormwater, urban canopy, streets and design and construction of public facilities. She previously served as Mayor Garcetti’s Director of External Affairs, managing intergovernmental and community advocacy for the city in Sacramento and Washington, DC. 

California’s transportation infrastructure is not meeting the needs of the state’s population and its economy. What can we do? Join us next Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 11am to 12:30 pm, to hear what the experts think, and what we should do. REGISTER HERE.

AND THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS!


Join Move LA Feb 16: What does the infrastructure bill mean for SoCal?

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (once known as the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, or IIJA) is, as you probably know, a very big deal: Much has been written about how it’s the largest-ever 5-year surface transportation reauthorization—and about half the $1.2 trillion package will be spent on transportation. Some of the other investments include providing better access to clean drinking water and high-speed internet, upgrading our power and energy infrastructure, capping oil and gas wells, and much more.

There are concerns, of course. The money will be spent by federal, state, regional and local agencies, on short-term improvements as well as long-range plans, with investments in transit and passenger rail, bicycle and pedestrian projects, a national network of EV chargers, upgrades to our airports and ports, and the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak!

But it’s probable that the biggest investments will be in roads and bridges. And we all know what road expenditures can mean for climate change and greenhouse gas emissions: More road expansions lead to more cars on the roads which means more GHGs which are bad for the climate—because when it becomes easier to drive than to take a bus or train the people who can afford to will get in their cars and drive there.

The Georgetown Climate Center just released a report about the possible effects of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill investments and whether they will result in higher or lower emissions—which will depend on whether investments are spent on roadbuilding or on cleaner alternatives such as buses, trains and electric vehicles.

"Under the IIJA, hundreds of billions of dollars will flow directly to state departments of transportation to use as they see fit," wrote NRDC's Deron Lovaas in his post about the report. "Whether these funds are put toward climate-friendly, equitable transportation investments or plowed into the same car-biased, transportation system we’ve had for decades will determine the IIJA’s legacy."

The California State Transportation Agency, better known as CalSTA, is already on top of this and has been holding meetings with stakeholders from around the state—including transit agency staff and infrastructure experts, activists, environmentalists and EJ advocates—who are asking questions and sharing their opinions.

So please come and talk with us and some of the people who will be involved in the decisions about how California’s piece of this pie will be served up!

RSVP: Wednesday, February 16, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.! And come and talk with us about how we can ensure that investments will do what we want them to do.


Move LA honors the legacy of Rosa Parks on Transit Equity Day—transit is important for so many people!

Move LA is joining the Labor Network for Sustainability and many others today on Transit Equity Day—and we urge you to join us—in celebrating the courage of Rosa Parks and her legacy. Like many other organizations across the U.S. we are doing this out of concern about transit agency staffing challenges as well as service cuts.

When transit funding is cut, buses and trains don't show up when expected or don't show up at all. That means a lot of families can't get to work or school on time, or honor other commitments. We must remember that public transit is a lifeline for so many people—not only in LA but across the U.S. 

Moreover, investing in the transit workforce and expanded transit service provides important alternatives to driving, which is so important now given concerns about climate change. Moreover so many people in LA depend on transit and when bus service is reduced, life becomes so much more difficult.

new report released today by the Alliance for a Just Society, Labor Network for Sustainability, and the TransitCenter discusses the inadequacy of our investments in public transit and in transit job quality, and the degree to which the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced staffing levels so that public transit can't meet the needs of many riders.

In Los Angeles, for example, the need for public transit workers has already led to 12% temporary cuts to Metro service, and Metro canceled 42% of trips on the heavily trafficked Vermont Rapid Bus during December and January, leaving riders unable to get to where they need to go. 

We must remember that millions of people in Los Angeles rely on public transit every day. And if  teachers, nurses, grocery store clerks, and other frontline workers can’t get to where they need to be that’s a problem for all of us.

We have to invest in robust public transit and in our public transit workforce if we want to build an economically resilient and racially equitable Los Angeles. We urge our local leaders to use the federal investment from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to address this growing crisis. 

Read and share the full report and join Move LA as we recognize #TransitEquityDay!


And the winner is . . . Eli Lipmen and our partners!

Move LA's Eli Lipmen was on a roll this year working at the national, state and local levels, and his work was acknowledged by both the TransitCenter and The Mobility Fund, which decided to help fund this work.

The TransitCenter is a NYC-based foundation that works to improve transit in cities across the U.S., and The Mobility Fund is a project of the Global Philanthropy Partnership and supports community-based advocacy to increase access to and the use of transit and active transportation.

First, Eli worked with the TransitCenter and other advocacy groups across the U.S. to move the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill forward, discussing its importance with dozens of members of Congress. Congress passed and President Biden signed the bill.

Acknowledging this work, the TransitCenter presented Eli with their "Think Globally, Act Locally" award because during the pandemic, they wrote, he'd "been a key voice combining insight and action at the local, state, and federal levels." He was also recognized for his organizing work on the Transit Justice National Campaign and on "local campaigns to ensure that public transit continues to serve riders."

Eli (pictured with his kids riding on the 'E' Line) also won the TransitCenter's "Best Local Campaign" award, along with long-time Move LA partners ACT-LA, Investing in Place and a coalition of more than 20 other LA advocacy groups, after they together won a commitment from LA Metro to restore bus service to pre-pandemic levels.

Service cuts at the beginning of the pandemic meant essential workers were putting up with long waits and unpredictable bus arrival times. When Metro received billions of dollars in funding from the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) and CRRSSA Act (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act), advocacy groups brought so much pressure to bear that the Metro board voted to spend some of its money improving service. 

The TransitCenter wrote this was "a testament to the success of years of organizing for better bus service in the region, which led to the ability to mobilize quickly and effectively at the right moment."

Congratulations to our long-time partners ACT-LA and Investing in Place, as their organizing ability was also key to this success.

Unfortunately, once again, there are complaints about long waits and unpredictable service as Metro began collecting fares and Omicron surges, and Move LA is working with advocates and the Metro Board to leverage federal and state resources to prioritize the restoration and expansion of LA Metro bus service. This is where the Mobility Fund's support will be crucial, as well as supporting oversight on the implementation of Metro's Fareless System Initiative.

Move LA will also be working with the South LA Promise Zone (SLATE-Z) to advocate for capital projects that prioritize bus speed and active transportation that benefit low-income riders and communities of color, specifically in South L.A. The top priority for this geographically-based effort is to break ground on Metro's Rail-to-River Project, a 10-mile active transportation pedestrian and bicycle corridor that will connect Southeast and South LA with the Crenshaw 'K' Line, Silver 'J' Line, and Blue 'A' Line.

We are very grateful to these foundations for enabling us and our partners help bus riders during the difficult year of 2021, proving that bus riders and bus advocates can together help ensure a bright future that doesn't require all of us to own cars and contribute to climate change.


When you are on a roll, keep rolling!

MOVE LA HAS ALWAYS BEEN DRAWN to do BIG STUFF (tongue in cheek) that's needed to address our transit, climate and clean air challenges, lack of affordable housing, and the good jobs, jobs and more jobs required by people who need and want to work to support their families.

Move LA began during a challenging time, when LA's "soul-crushing traffic" was on everyone's mind with no solution in sight. Move LA started a campaign to address this challenge by building a coalition to support a ballot measure to fund the build-out of LA County's transit system—which became Measure R—and which voters approved by 67.4% even as the Great Recession loomed before us.

After the recession ebbed, Measure R was followed by Measure M in 2016 and voters said "Yes" again, and together R and M have created a $120 billion program for major investments in a new transit system and services in LA County.

OUR CURRENT WORK

We are eager to keep working on projects on the same scale as Measures R and M—where we were able to start the ball rolling and convince powerful elected officials, unions, environmentalists, other activists, and the voters to join us. 

These two ballot measures are expected to bring in $120 billion over four decades, and we couldn’t have done it without your support. Below is a list of what we've been working on this year. We hope it will move you to continue to support our efforts.

EXPANDING TRANSIT AFTER R & M

#1 Big Success: Congress Passes and President Biden Signs the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
This bill will provide $550 billion to improve the nation’s infrastructure. Move LA was an important part of a national network pressing this forward, working with the TransitCenter and others, meeting with dozens of members of Congress and their staff, and coordinating advocates statewide to support increased funding for public transit and active transportation.

#2 Big Success: Metro Adopts the Fareless System Initiative
Metro’s Fareless System Initiative (being implemented this January) was a direct outgrowth of Move LA’s persistence over more than a decade about creating a discounted transit pass program for community college students. The FSI will provide free transit service to all students enrolled in community colleges in LA County and to K-12 students.

#3 Major Progress: Boulevards of Equity and Opportunity and the Important Role of Bus-Only Lanes
Move LA has been encouraging several bus-only and bus-priority lanes on Grand/Olive, Alvarado, La Brea, 5th/6th Street in DTLA, and the North Hollywood to Pasadena Transit Corridor. Move LA has also worked to implement dedicated bike lanes on West Adams from Crenshaw to Fairfax, to connect them to bus/bike lanes in Culver City, and to build the Rail-to-Rail Active Transportation Corridor in South LA that would connect four major transit lines.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

#4 Major Progress: A Voter Initiative to Raise Funds to Prevent Homelessness and Develop Affordable Housing
More than a year ago Move LA initiated and has since built a significant coalition including social justice and tenant advocates, affordable housers, and the LA/OC Building Trades to champion a City of LA voter initiative to provide funding to prevent homelessness and develop new affordable housing. The measure was submitted to the Los Angeles City Clerk's office mid-December where a legal petition will be created and a signature drive will follow. This measure will raise over $800 million/year for the City of Los Angeles to prevent and reduce homelessness and build more than 26,000 affordable apartments every decade.

#5 Ongoing Progress: Boulevards of Equity and Opportunity
If Los Angeles has always been a place where you need a car to get around, the Measure R and M era is different: it’s about providing access via transit to opportunity, affordable housing, education and jobs. We have championed building mixed-use, mixed-income housing along safe, transit-served boulevards, in neighborhoods where people can drive less and walk or bike more. SB 961 (Allen) was our first legislative victory on this path, but won’t be our last. Check out SB 563 (Allen).

#6 Ongoing Progress: A Redevelopment-Style Framework to Build Affordable Housing Near Transit
Move LA has been working with Senator Ben Allen to develop legislation to create a city-county collaboration to build affordable housing, first-last-mile infrastructure, and urban greening programs near transit in a redevelopment-style tax-increment financing framework.

CLIMATE AND CLEAN AIR

#7 Ongoing Progress: A Potential Statewide Ballot Measure to Fight Climate Change
For two years Move LA worked to identify coalition partners statewide and is now partnering with them to develop a statewide ballot measure to fight climate change in the November 2022 elections. The outcome of that process has been remarkable. Two versions of such a measure has been submitted to the California Secretary of State. One version would raise about $4 billion/year and more than $100 billion over 20 years to ensure that zero emission vehicles are the new normal in California in all categories—cars, trucks, trains, ships, planes and off-road equipment—and to prevent wildfires in California’s forests. 

#8 Ongoing Progress: Hydrogen roundtables with the LA/OC Building and Construction Trades Council
Move LA has been co-convening a series of virtual roundtables on climate strategies with the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute and the LA/OC Building and Construction Trades Council and affiliates. The goal is to identify climate strategies that can yield good-paying jobs for our unionized workforce with special attention to the opportunities offered by the development of hydrogen infrastructure.

#9 Big Success: Seven “Zoomposiums” on the Fight Against Climate Change and for Clean Air
We conducted no less than seven of these conversations on Zoom, often with audiences of several hundred people, to talk with leaders and experts about topics ranging from short-lived climate pollutants and deadly diesel to battery electric and hydrogen solutions to other climate-friendly means of travel and emerging technologies for planes, trains, buses and ships.

We believe that we are working on issues that matter not only for Los Angeles and LA County, but for California and the world. Donate and you will be working with us! See you in the new year! 

Denny Zane for Move LA


United to House LA: A voter initiative to address LA's housing & homelessness crises!

 

There are now at least 115 organizations (there were 28 when we took the photo below)—advocates for the homeless and for tenants rights and more affordable housing, labor organizations, and Move LA—working to unite Angelenos around a citizen's initiative to address LA’s housing and homelessness crises in a very big way.

The measure we propose would raise more than $800 million/year in the City of Los Angeles with a tax on high-end real estate sales to invest in strategies to reduce and prevent homelessness and in the affordable housing that is so desperately needed in our communities.

This investment would benefit people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless, as well as very-low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities who pay an excessive share of their income for rent. And it would respond to so many LA residents who have expressed their concerns about the situation.

If this measure is approved by voters we could proudly say that the people of Los Angeles measured up to the challenge of homelessness both morally and financially.

Only sellers of high-end properties costing more than $5 million would pay this one-time tax on real estate transactions. These are people who have benefited greatly from the opportunities and resources available in Los Angeles and the consequent increase in land values, at the same time that others are tossed into homelessness by the rapidly rising rents inherent in this real estate roulette. 

Homelessness is not inevitable. Matt Tinoco recently wrote in his LA Podcast newsletter that "People fall out of housing for any number of individual reasons, but poverty is the single common thread in almost every situation . . .  the results of the 2020 homeless count revealed a 50% increase in the number of people who had fallen out of housing compared to the same period leading up to the 2019 count.

“To put a number on it,” he continued, “the 2020 count estimated that 227 people fall into homelessness every day in LA County, while 207 people exit homelessness for housing. And that was before the pandemic which . . . has exasperated the underlying stresses and circumstances that lead to any individual person or family having to move into their car, or worse.”

Matt was writing this after attending a “State of Homelessness” panel hosted by the LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) which, as he wrote, “communicates clearly the scale of the mismatch between the high cost of living and our region’s high rate of poverty.”

The gravity of the problem:

  • LA has a higher percentage of cost-burdened renter households (59%) than any other major U.S. city.
  • Wages have fallen far behind the cost of living in LA: 22% of LA families make less than $25,000 per year and 42% make less than $50,000 per year.
  • There are 66,000 people experiencing homelessness in LA County.
  • Even as we have built new housing for the unhoused with the help, for example, of Proposition HHH (now building 7,300 units of permanent supportive housing), ongoing evictions and expensive rents mean that more and more people lose their homes every day, pushing them into precarious situations.

In order for people experiencing homelessness to move from a shelter into an apartment there needs to be an apartment with a rent that is low enough to allow that person/family to meet other household expenses. LA doesn’t have very many of these apartments.

The goal of our measure is to be able to spend $800 million a year to build 24,000 such affordable homes to house more than 60,000 people, create 43,000 construction jobs, and fund programs that reach out to 460,000 tenants and enforce their rights.

Move LA initiated and convened this effort more than 2 years ago. We were emboldened by our successes with Measures R and M that are raising $120 billion over four decades to build out our transit system, and Measure H to help meet the needs of people who are homeless so  they can access key services. We began working with housing experts, social justice advocates and labor leaders on a potential ballot measure that could address the deficiencies in our response to the crisis of homelessness.

The key conclusion was that a ballot measure that provided a significant, permanent funding source was required to support a robust program to build affordable housing could be created where all types of working families could live.

What do you think? Want to join us? Early polling has shown broad support, with twice as many voters in support as those who would oppose such a measure. Want to join us in our effort to make LA a livable city for all people? Click HERE!

Paid for by Move LA, a Project of Community Partners, 1000 N. Alameda St., Suite 240, Los Angeles, CA. 90012.

 


VICTORY! Bipartisan infrastructure deal will deliver massive investments in public transit!

 

With his signature today President Biden has accomplished what many presidents have talked about but failed to deliver: a massive infrastructure bill with $550 billion to spend on the nation's infrastructure—the largest investment in roads, bridges, ports, water and rail in yearsThis is a huge victory for the tens of millions of people who depend on public transit every day.

Our partners at the National Campaign for Transit Justice have created a scorecard on how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—also called the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill”—compares to our policy goals. And President Biden's second signature piece of legislation, the Build Back Better Act, may be voted on as early as this week.

Together these two bills represent unprecedented investments in our nation’s public transit systems, and will ensure that public transit not only survives the COVID pandemic, but actually builds back better.

Move LA played a pivotal role in the effort to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. We coordinated at least nine meetings with key members of Congress and their staffs, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, and generated hundreds of messages to federal representatives from constituents who support public transit funding.

 

 

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Register now for our 12/10/21 party to celebrate the big stuff!

We are drawn to do the BIG STUFF needed to address our transit, climate and clean air challenges, lack of affordable housing, and the need for more and more good jobs so people can support their families. We want to keep working on projects that are the scale of Measures R and M—when we were able to start the ball rolling and then convince powerful elected officials, unions, environmentalists and the voters to join us in support of 2 ballot measures providing $120 billion to build out LA County's transit system over 4 decades.

 

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Join us & SPUR to talk about how HSR will benefit CA's big cities and . . . !

We had the opportunity to talk with transportation leaders about all the ways to get around California without a car recently, with the goal of transforming our transportation system as we face the challenge of climate change.

In case you missed these Zooms on "California's Decade of Decision" you can still watch them (with closed captioning) on Move LA's Youtube page:

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