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Metro Board Approves $3.7M for 12 CicLAvia Type Events Around LA County

These cities received funding: Carson, Culver City, Downey, El Monte, Huntington Park, Lawndale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Pasadena, Santa Monica, South Pasadena.

Read more on Metro's The Source.

Venerable Westside/SF Valley Institutions Unite Behind Proposed Measure R2

LAX, the Getty Museum, Leo Baeck Temple, Cal State Northridge and other venerable institutions dependent on the 405 freeway are banding together to press for a significant expansion of public transportation to provide an alternative to the always-congested 405. In an unprecedented show of solidarity representatives of dozens of institutions as well as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti gathered in the San Fernando Valley earlier this month to discuss a path forward -- likely to be drumming up support for a 2016 ballot measure to raise money for further expansion of the rail system, an initiative that some including Move LA are calling Measure R2. Leo Baeck, a member of the broad-based organizing network OneLA-IAF, first began organizing support for the expansion of public transit in 2012 following an extension outreach effort to better understand what mattered to the congregation.

Read more in The Jewish Journal.

Here's the Crenshaw Line's LAX-Adjacent Century/Aviation Station

Metro begins work on the Century/Aviation station next month. New station designs are helping make these new rail lines and extensions seem real years before the fact!

Read more about traffic closures to take down a bridge at this site on Metro's The Source.

Zumthor's New Design for the Purple Line's LACMA Station Avoids Fossils, Arches Over Wilshire

Architect Peter Zumthor's new design responds to concerns that his original design could obstruct scientific excavations into the rich subterranean world of fossils underneath the LA Brea Tar Pits. The mostly transparent building would now reach across Wilshire to the museum's Spaulding Avenue parking lot, thereby limiting the footprint of construction on the tar pits.

Read more on LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's blog.


Be Among the First to "Ride" (Via Video) Expo 2 With LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky

To the tune of Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" -- oh that the train would move this fast! But Expo will make it possible to get from DTLA to Santa Monica's 4th Street Station in 46 minutes (about the same as by car except that you won't have to do the driving) when it opens in 2016. The video is HERE.

New LADOT Chief Known For Focus on Innovation and Bike and Ped Safety

New LA Department of Transportation Director Seleta Reynolds comes to LA from the San Francisco MTA's "Livable Streets" office, leading to the conclusion that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti's choice shows "without a doubt" that the mayor wants to reduce the emphasis on cars and turn attention to pedestrians and bikes. While in San Francisco Reynolds played a major role in the Vision Zero project's goal of reducing ped fatalities to zero by 2024. And she also helped launch the city's bike rental program. Eric Bruins of the LA County Bicycle Coalition said this about her appointment: "LADOT has been very conservative in its willingness to try new things. Seleta is going to be willing to experiment a little and add more innovative street design to Los Angeles."

More in the LA Times.

US Conference of Mayors Unanimously Backs America Fast Forward Transportation Bonds Again

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti authored the resolution to support the AFF bond program initiative -- which has been championed by Metro -- and it was unanimously adopted by the full membership of the US Conference of Mayors at their annual meeting in Dallas. The bond program could allow Metro to finance an accelerated build-out of the Measure R-funded rail system.

More on Metro's The Source.

Cap & Trade Deal Reached, Ensuring Money for Transit, Affordable Homes, Sustainable Communities

No question that the Cap & Trade trailer bill on Governor Brown’s desk is good news, because it signifies the state is getting back into the business of funding transit, albeit it at a lower level than we'd hoped and lower than had been proposed -- 15% instead of 25% -- by outgoing Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento)and incoming Senate President Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles).

That 15%, however, could amount to $750 million a year for transit capital and operations, and the trailer bill allocates another 10% of revenues to building transit ridership through the construction of affordable housing near transit, and 10% to transit-oriented development, active transportation, and other “sustainable communities” strategies.

That means that 35% of Cap & Trade funding – a pot that’s expected to increase from $872 million this year to $3 to $5 billion by 2020 – would be available for transit and for sustainable community development that supports transit. Governor Brown still has to sign the bill, but he has indicated that he will.

"Cap & Trade is a program that will be continued for years -- even decades -- and this is an impressive first take on a funding program," says Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane. "But there should be a stronger commitment to transit and to bike and pedestrian infrastructure as well as specific programs like a universal student transit pass in order to achieve the robust greenhouse gas reductions we will need."

There's also 25% for high-speed rail, and the remaining 40% will go to energy efficiency; to natural resources, urban forestry and waste diversion; and to low-carbon transportation and cleaning up cars, trucks and buses on California's roads.

It’s possible there could be a little more money for transit-related improvements. Urban forestry is a spending priority in the natural resources category, and one could imagine this money being used for landscaping along the City of LA’s “Great Streets” and “People Streets” programs as well as the countywide “Grand Boulevards” program that has been proposed by Move LA for inclusion in Measure R2 – the proposed new sales tax measure for transportation that could go on the ballot in 2016.

Steinberg (that's Steinberg standing with Governor Brown and Assembly Speaker John Perez in the photo) told reporters in the Capitol Sunday that there’s a lot to be proud of in the 2014-15 state budget: “There’s an unprecedented investment in transit and in housing,” he said. “While high-speed rail gets all the attention there’s an even greater investment in urban and commuter rail and in housing that’s going to make the high-speed rail project even better because high-speed rail will be part of a system – and doesn’t just stick out there like a sore thumb.”

Study Links High Ridership to Affordable Homes Near Transit, Legitimizing Use of Cap & Trade Revenues for Affordable Housing

A new study shows that lower-income households living within a quarter mile of frequent public transportation drive only half as much as lower-income households in neighborhoods without good transit service. The study also found that these lower-income households drive significantly less than higher-income households in the same neighborhoods. These findings provided the evidence needed to ensure that Cap & Trade revenues could and should be used to build more affordable housing near transit in order to increase transit ridership – and decrease GHG emissions.

The study, entitled “Why Creating and Preserving Homes Near Transit is a Highly Effective Climate Protection Strategy," was conducted by the Center for Neighborhood Technology for the Oakland-based transportation nonprofit Transform and the California Housing Partnership. It estimates that investing 10% of  Cap & Trade revenues in affordable housing over 3 years would result in construction of 15,000 affordable homes. Because the families who live in those homes drive less this investment would reduce driving by 105,000,000 less vehicle miles per year, reducing GHG emissions by 1.58 million metric tons.

The study was released on May 15th and highlighted at a press conference in LA on June 6th with outgoing Senate President Darrell Steinberg and incoming Senate President Kevin De Leon, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA Metro officials, and Transform Executive Director Stuart Cohen. “This report gives our leaders the robust evidence they need to tackle climate change in ways that keep California affordable and connect people of all incomes to opportunity,” Cohen told reporters. “California can be a leader both in solving our climate crisis and creating healthy communities for all.”

Matt Schwartz, president of the California Housing Partnership, said in a press release that “This report makes clear the importance of ensuring that lower-income Californians are part of the solution to our climate change challenge and not just pushed out of our state’s transit rich areas as they are developed. Affordable homes near transit must be a priority in the state investment strategy, not an afterthought.”

A recent study for the City of LA’s Housing and Community Investment Department found that 75% of all transit commuters – people who use transit regularly to get to work -- live in households that make less than $25,000 a year, highlighting the importance of ensuring that housing near transit remains affordable.

“Why Creating and Preserving Homes Near Transit is a Highly Effective Climate Protection Strategy" is available HERE.

Spring Semester at LA County's TOD University

On a sunny Saturday morning in March about 35 members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) gathered at the community room at the Mercado La Paloma in South LA. They looked at local statistics on population growth, homelessness, and at numbers showing that families are doubling up to make ends meet, and then they tried to figure out how many new affordable apartments are needed in a wide swath of South LA over the next 10 years. Their conclusion: LA needs to build tens of thousands of new apartments just to take care of the people who already live there.

A week later 30 people from churches in central LA met in the basement of a church in Pico Union to learn about rent control and other policies to keep renters from being pushed out in favor of higher-income tenants or would-be condo owners. They were brought together by One LA, an interfaith organizing group that works on health care and immigration. Hands shot up when participants were asked if they had ever been evicted or threatened with eviction or knew of others who had. Within a couple of months One LA leaders were meeting with the Eviction Defense Network to learn more about how to join the fight against illegal evictions.

At Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood on a Tuesday evening in April, the talk was about the economics of building new apartments with affordable rents near transit. The people gathered here were members of LA Voice, an affiliate of the national interfaith organizing network PICO. Their homework? They were asked to go out in pairs and look for parking lots, rundown commercial buildings and other places where new apartment buildings could be constructed.

At another workshop hosted by the West Angeles Community Development Corporation in May those in attendance said they were interested in keeping traffic moving on Crenshaw Boulevard. Then these residents stepped outside for a short walk across Crenshaw, then up a few blocks and back to see the boulevard through a safe walking and bike lense. They witnessed a near collision between a bicyclist and a car and concluded that cars were driving way too fast and that it should be a priority to slow traffic and make the road safer for everyone.

The point of all these workshops was to explore the changes LA’s transit expansion may bring to low-income neighborhoods, where transit enjoys broad support but there’s also growing concern that residents will get priced out. Similar workshops have been staged by the East LA Community Corporation and Little Tokyo Services Center, and all are part of the “TOD University,” a project of the national nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners, funded by HUD, and done in partnership with Move LA, Reconnecting America, and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE).

The workshops are designed for those with no formal training in planning or development. The goal is to help residents understand the complex interplay of public policy and real estate markets so that they’ll feel comfortable weighing in at public meetings to get community input on the changes that are imminent in their neighborhoods.  Discussion topics also include:
*  how to orient new development so that it leverages transit;
*  the magnitude of the City of LA's housing problem;
*  places that might be good for development in a city that already seems over-developed;
*  hot and cool real estate markets and appropriate development policies for each;
*  how to make neighborhoods safe and enjoyable for walking and biking;
*  how the city spends its federal economic development dollars;
*  understanding LA City’s zoning code and how it limits the height, setbacks and floor-to-area ratio of buildings.

These popular education workshops seem successful. When participants were asked how they would use what they learned, one said she wouldn’t be so shy about speaking up in public, and another said he “will try and make others aware and get them on board so that everyone can have a better city to live in.”

All eight “courses” of the TOD University are available in Powerpoint format, are open-source, and can be downloaded HERE and tailored to the issues in particular neighborhoods. Groups are encouraged to tailor the course selection and the presentations to the issues confronted their own neighborhoods, while learning about conditions and policies across the city. The "courses" are:

TOD 101: Introduction to Transit Oriented Districts, Metro’s expanding bus and rail system, the steps to making a place more people and transit-oriented, and the agencies involved.

Housing 101: Overview – Introduction to what rents Angelenos can afford, an exploration of setting housing production goals, patterns of development, examples of density, and an exploration of possible places to build.

Housing 201: Preservation – Explores how we lose housing with affordable rents, strategies for preventing displacement, hot markets and cool markets, how new transit has impacted local neighborhoods.

Housing 202: Building New Affordable Homes – Explores the kinds of places that are good for building, basic financing concepts, operating subsidies, government housing programs, how to support new affordable construction.

Consolidated Plan: Strategy & Budget for Community Development – A look at Los Angeles’ first-in-the-nation Transit Oriented ConPlan with targeted anti-poverty strategies.

Jobs and Economic Development 101: Looks at housing and transportation (H+T) costs, how transportation connects people to major job centers and education, new jobs created by transit construction and TOD development, local examples of successful jobs campaigns.

Planning Basics 101: Provides an introduction to planning terminology and concepts, who makes planning decisions, the path from idea to policy, local examples of successful community campaigns.

Complete Streets 101: Looks at how to make streets safe and accessible for everyone, the benefits of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, complete streets, road diets, bicycle boulevards, streets for people, a walk-about.

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