Archive: Jan 2013

  1. Rethinking Investment, Remaking Success

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    The news that the Governor’s proposed budget is “roughly in balance” confirms our tentative assessment that the Golden State has truly turned a corner and is on its way to a real economic recovery. Without going off the deep-end into a spending-frenzy, now is the time to plan for the not-so-distant day when the state and cities have extra revenue that can be tapped to rebuild our communities.  In this month’s newsletter we highlight some inklings and foreshadowing of the creativity that can help us remake our communities into the places we deserve. (more…)

  2. What’s Next for Redevelopment Dissolution

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    The dissolution of the state’s redevelopment agencies began in earnest around this time last year. Since then, the process of winding down the activities of some 400 former local agencies has been anything but smooth. In spite of lawsuits, temporary restraining orders, and demands for payment, the long march of the post-redevelopment era continues. Here’s what to look for as we enter year two of redevelopment’s dissolution. (more…)

  3. Investing in Pedestrian & Bicycle Infrastructure

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    The momentum around improving our streets to accommodate pedestrian and bicyclists continues to grow. Los Angeles has recently launched an effort to make 53 of the City’s busiest intersections more pedestrian-friendly by restriping crosswalks to increase visibility and decrease vehicle-pedestrian collisions. And, though recently scrapped, the LA City Council’s proposed $3 billion road repair bond measure promised funding for sidewalks, crosswalks and bike infrastructure as well (though a majority of the funds would have gone to benefit drivers). Although it’s been a long time coming, bicycle and pedestrian improvements are becoming part of the larger conversation when it comes to infrastructure. (more…)

  4. Technology as a Civic Engagement Tool

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    There’s been much to do about harnessing technology as a civic engagement tool, but groups are now focusing on using technology as a way to help underserved communities navigate complex government processes – and we’re totally on board with the idea. Technology has a lot of potential to be used as a tool to foster civic engagement, to make bureaucratic processes more transparent, and to improve the lives of low-income individuals. But while high-tech wizardry can act as a liberating force, it can also present a significant barrier to entry. (more…)

  5. Stormwater Parcel Tax on Hold

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    Image from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District: http://www.flickr.com/photos/losangelesdistrict/4755714576/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    Image from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District: http://www.flickr.com/photos/losangelesdistrict/4755714576/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing  [PDF, Item #40] earlier this week for the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Fee, a proposed parcel tax on to mitigate stormwater runoff pollution in the county.  The revenue would be used to capture, filter and reuse stormwater before it ever makes it to a sewer. Single family homes would pay around $50 annually, but parcels with large portions of pavement  (think parking lots, big box retailers, schools) stand to pay a lot more.  The hearing comes just a few days after a Supreme Court ruling allowing the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to temporarily avoid responsibility for the high levels of water pollution found in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. After hours of testimony from concerned property owners, elected officials, and school board representatives, the supervisors decided to continue the hearing until March 12, 2013 and directed their staff to explore other possible ways to raise the money needed for stormwater runoff control.

  6. Where are the POPOS?

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    Privately-owned public open spaces are publicly accessible areas that are built and maintained by private developers. Sporting the unfortunate moniker of “POPOS,” these open spaces include plazas, terraces, atriums, and small parks, among others.  Privately-owned public spaces are common to San Francisco’s Downtown, but most spaces are difficult to find unless you’re in the know. To that point, the San Francisco Planning Department has launched a “POPOS Map,” a comprehensive database of spaces open to the public. The map even lets you narrow your POPOS searches by whether or not a space has seating, restrooms or nearby food options. Moreover, just last year, the City approved legislation requiring uniform signage to identify POPOS throughout San Francisco.

  7. Coachella Valley and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative

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    The Clinton Foundation has selected the Coachella Valley as one of two sites in the Nation where it will focus its latest effort, The Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI). The other city selected was Little Rock, Arkansas, the former President’s home town.

    Over the next five or so years the Clinton Initiative will work in Coachella to close existing “gaps in health disparities and to help increase access to healthy food and produce and help address chronic, preventable diseases and lower health care costs.”  The CHMI will accomplish this by convening key stakeholders and supporting ongoing work in the region. (more…)

  8. New Tool to Identify Environmental Justice Communities

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    We know that the burden of pollution is not distributed equally throughout California. People who live in low-income and minority communities are exposed to higher concentrations of pollutants and experience more health problems as a result.  In recent years various tools have been developed to identify the most ill-affected communities.

    The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) just released the latest draft of the California Community Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen), a new resource that identifies the most burdened and vulnerable communities throughout the state. CalEnviroScreen quantifies a community’s pollution burden and considers its population characteristics to produce a weighted score. The scores are translated to maps that illustrate the relative burden that each community bears. CalEnviroScreen will be used as a tool to help the state to direct a portion of its cap-and-trade revenue to communities in need of economic and environmental health benefits.

    If you want to put in your two cents, OEHHA will be accepting comments on the CalEnviroScreen tool through January 25, 2013.

  9. Hollywood Community Studio Report

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    After three years of research and community engagement, the Hollywood Community Studio’s (HSC) final Community Research and Engagement Report [PDF] is now available.  The HSC originated as an effort to gauge what stakeholders thought of changes to the neighborhood brought on by redevelopment projects in the last two decades. The Studio focused primarily on the Hollywood Project Area established by L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency in the 80s. Between 2008 and 2011 the HSC surveyed over 1,000 residents and 200 small businesses. The results speak to the cultural diversity of the area as well as the need to engage these populations in meaningful ways to help guide future public and private investment in the neighborhood.