Celebrating Gains and Some Unsolicited Advice

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Mark Twain famously quipped that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Oil companies may be feeling a little safer (for now) after a disappointing regular session failed to move major climate change legislation. The Governor has until October 11 to sign or veto bills that made it out of Legislature by September 11. As we draft this newsletter, the Governor has signed AB 2 (Alejo), which authorizes the creation of Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities. Could this be the long-desired, oft-rejected tool to replace redevelopment agencies? We also await the Governor’s promised signature on SB 358, California’s bid to address the gender wage gap. Next month once the ink is dry, we’ll do a round-up of successful bills addressing social equity, transportation, housing and economic development issues. For now, we celebrate gains by workers, promote transportation equity in Los Angeles and offer unsolicited advice to California’s big city mayors on what they should do to lead on affordable housing. Summer’s over – let’s get back to work on the issues that really matter.

Sincerely,

Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

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. Read More…

Workers Gaining More Protections

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Recent decisions stand to fundamentally change the relationship between workers and employers. Even as the U.S. economy expands, productivity gains and GDP growth have not translated to higher wages for most workers. And with our economy’s growing reliance on low-wage workers, it’s important that labor rules and regulations offer protections for this growing class of employees. As we’ve seen successful battles waged to increase state and local minimum wages, there have also been policies put in place to help address the gender pay gap and redefine rules that make it easier for employees to organize. Likewise, an ongoing legal fight has the potential to offer contract workers more protections. As businesses increasingly rely on a contingent workforce to increase flexibility, it’s up to organized labor, advocates, policymakers, and elected officials to identify the best mechanisms to enhance worker protections. Here’s a rundown of some of their latest accomplishments. Read More…

Our Top Five for Affordable Housing

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Image from Habitat for Humanity Portland: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44062891@N03/8641577674

Image from Habitat for Humanity Portland: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44062891@N03/8641577674

It’s no secret that California has a serious affordable housing problem. The state is home to the nation’s most expensive rental market and the nation’s least affordable housing market. Nine of the ten most expensive housing markets in the U.S. are located here. And, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office put it, California’s home prices and rents are higher than just about anywhere else. As local policymakers throughout the state grapple with the issue of providing affordable housing, we thought it’d be helpful to provide a “top five” list of interventions that the state’s big city mayors can champion to help address the affordability crisis. Read More…

Make in LA Welcomes its First Class of Startups

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Innovation has a new home in Los Angeles! Make in LA is Los Angeles’ new (and only) tech-focused hardware accelerator: think anything from movement-tracking wristbands to medical devices or even robots. Do you have a great idea for an invention, but don’t know where to go for funding or guidance? Make in LA supports up and coming companies with capital ($75,000 per company in exchange for a 7.5% stake), access to workspace, top notch mentors, and a structured curriculum that will help ensure each company’s success. Read More…

Eco-Friendly E-Commerce?

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Given the recent coverage of major online retailers’ blue– and white-collar working conditions, many of us are contemplating the ethical implications of two-day shipping. Sure, it’s convenient, and we all love the immediate gratification of “1-Click” ordering, but at what cost to the environment (and, the workers)? Is there really such a thing as eco-friendly e-commerce? Read More…

We Don’t Need Another Superhero

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It’s the dog days of summer, when the heat drives you indoors and the superhero movies drive you to tedium. But lots of good work is still being done even in the triple digits. While Los Angeles hopes for Olympic Gold in the Summer of 2024, we draw your attention to thoughtful education and support programs that are giving the formerly incarcerated a real chance to remake their lives and break out of the recidivism trap. Likewise, we highlight the fine work of our friends at USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and their roadmap on how to link high tech growth to high need areas in San Diego. Many of their recommendations touch on the need to invest in quality education and career pipelines. In much the same way, the California Community Colleges Strong Work Force Task Force just released its recommendations on how the nation’s largest college system can better prepare students for high-value jobs in regions throughout the state. Hollywood box office notwithstanding, all this great policy stuff makes us think we don’t need more superheroes — just hard work, thoughtful leadership, and the courage to take risks and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

LA’s Olympic Bid: Is the Third Time a Charm?

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An unsupportive public, the absence of a cohesive vision, and the prospect of taxpayers footing the bill for cost overruns doomed Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid. Now, with the U.S. Olympic Committee scrambling to find a replacement, it looks like Los Angeles is poised to win the nomination. Although hosting the international competition is nothing new for the City of Angels, how will L.A. avoid the pitfalls that ultimately sank Boston’s bid? And, if selected, will the city be able to emulate its success as the host of the 1984 games? Read More…

Making Life Easier on the Outside

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The United States is home to more prisoners than any other nation on earth. And with close to 700 out of every 100,000 residents in prison, the nation has the highest prison population rate in the developed world. Our prison system is expensive and highly punitive. At the same time, recidivism rates show that our model isn’t particularly good at deterring crime. Recognizing the failures of the nation’s decades-long tough on crime stance, a rare bipartisan discussion of corrections reform has gained national momentum. With a renewed focus on investing in programs, services, and initiatives that equip formerly incarcerated individuals with the skills they need to navigate the world outside, we take a look at some of the more successful national models, staring here in California. Read More…

New PERE Report on Equity in San Diego

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Steady growth in high-tech sectors, including biotech, cleantech, and medical technology, have been a boon to the San Diego region. Between 2000 and 2010, employment in these high-skilled fields increased over 20 percent in spite of the Recession. However, this prosperity fails to reach a majority of San Diego residents. According to PolicyLink’s National Equity Atlas, San Diego ranks #62 in income inequality among the largest 150 metro regions in the United States. Higher paid, higher skilled jobs are increasingly out of reach for a growing segment of the population, and lower skilled jobs in sectors like hospitality and tourism, offer stagnant wages and little opportunity for advancement. Read More…