Partnering for Transportation Equity

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This month, ELP Advisors has invited a friend of the firm to share her knowledge and experience with our readers. We’re exploring how coalitions focused on transportation equity are gaining momentum in Los Angeles County to fundamentally shift how transportation investments are deployed. We’ve invited Jessica Meaney from Investing in Place to share outcomes from the nonprofit’s latest partner meeting and explain how we move to a transportation future where local investments advance social equity, public health, and environmental goals.

Earlier this month, Investing in Place convened over 70 partners to discuss lessons learned from SB 535 (2012 de Leon), a bill on cap-and-trade investments that prioritizes housing and transportation funds for disadvantaged communities based on a data-driven framework (CalEnviroscreen). The purpose of our meeting was to discuss lessons learned as we continued to refine framework recommendations for Metro’s potential 2016 Los Angeles County Transportation Sales tax ballot measure.

Keynote speaker Vien Truong from #GreenfromAll inspired the group with her experience and lessons learned from SB 535, and offered advice on how leaders could use this framework to inform conversations about transportation investment in Los Angeles County. Vien described the efforts of SB 535, as rooted in a “collaborative movement and partnerships,” with an inside policy game that was grounded by a community-led effort.

Prioritizing investment areas based on data and need is a model that more and more public entities are employing – and research shows this data-driven framework has a multiplying effect with region-wide benefits. Vien noted that when policy is developed with community leaders and elected officials, and when those actors are engaged in collaborative partnerships to pursue shared outcomes, then support and successful policy implementation are more likely.

As Investing in Place works with partners to fine-tune recommendations to Metro, we urge our regional transportation agency to pursue the following goals:

  1. Develop a data-driven framework that prioritizes funding for projects that advance social equity, enhance public health, and achieve environmental goals.
  2. Create prioritization investment areas based on income levels and race/ethnicity.
  3. Better serve transit-dependent populations by maintaining low fares, ensuring funding for transit operations, increasing frequency of service on high-ridership lines, enacting policies that enable development without displacement, and supporting integrated housing and transportation initiatives.
  4. Increasing funding for Active Transportation and other travel options for low-income and carless households.
  5. Support Meaningful and Authentic Community Participation during this process.

The Metro board is expected to review a draft framework for the 2016 Transportation Sales Tax ballot measure at its October committee meetings with the Board set to take action during the November or December board meetings. Metro staff will be continuing efforts with the Councils of Governments this fall to further refine their mobility matrices, project lists, and priorities. All of these efforts are working toward the development of a draft expenditure plan in Spring 2016.

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