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: email@example.com.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite 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.
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 rent 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.
Our 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 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 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.