LACBC Comment Letter: Mayor’s Proposed FY 18-19 Budget
April 30, 2018
Los Angeles City Council Budget & Finance Committee Los Angeles City Hall 200 N. Spring Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 Via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Mayor’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget
Dear Chair Councilmember Krekorian and committee members:
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) works to make Los Angeles a healthy and safe place to ride a bike, walk, and access daily resources. We value community-driven projects, culturally responsive community engagement, and equitable project implementation — all of which requires adequate funding. LACBC acknowledges and appreciates the diligent work and coordination of City departments and elected officials to develop a comprehensive City budget that responds to the diverse and often competing needs of Angelenos.
One step forward
LACBC is pleased that the City has increased its investment in safe street infrastructure since last year. The allocation of nearly $38 million toward this year’s proposed Vision Zero budget grows resources by about $10 million since last year, and by about $35 million since the 2016/17 budget. Similarly, other safety projects totaling $52.4 million, geared toward people walking and biking, increased slightly over last year. Additionally, this year’s proposed budget allocates $41 million to sidewalk repair and improved accessibility. We see these increases as important steps in the right direction.
Two steps back
While these budget increases are a start, LACBC knows that the City can and should do better to make streets safe for people walking and biking. In the past few weeks, four fatal traffic crashes — three of them hit-and-runs — took place in South LA, an area highlighted by the Vision Zero High Injury Network and social equity indicators (see image on Page 2). The deaths included a man crossing the street in his wheelchair, a man walking, and two men riding bikes, one of which was only 22 years old. Clearly, the city needs to make a larger investment in safety improvements in these neighborhoods, which have faced historic disinvestment and neglect.
These tragedies are preventable, and need to be treated as such. Safer streets require robust investment in infrastructure and community engagement. Last year, Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), stated that to achieve the goal of zero traffic deaths by 2025, the City would need to invest $80 million per year in safety improvements. The proposed Vision Zero budget allocation is still less than half of that. Moreover, investment in community engagement remains at a stagnant $1 million for Vision Zero. While the City works to effectively implement a comprehensive complete streets model on six corridors, LACBC respectfully requests that it considers the recommendations outlined on Page 3.
Source: Los Angeles Department of Transportation
Double Vision Zero Education and Outreach funding. LACBC respectfully encourages the City to dedicate a significantly larger amount of funding to community engagement by at least doubling the amount allocated to Education and Outreach, so that it totals $2 million. LACBC believes The City should use these funds to work with community based organizations that have experience partnering with disadvantaged communities. Community members should be educated on potential street safety treatments and participate in the planning process for future infrastructure improvements. Engagement should be culturally and linguistically competent, and should ensure that community members can meaningfully participate in the project selection and development process.
Resume commitment to bike lane installation. LACBC’s 2015 Bike and Pedestrian Count found that bike lane installation decreased from 101 miles in 2013 to just 11 miles in 2015, and only 25% of high priority bike lanes identified in the Bicycle Plan had been installed since 2010. The City Blue Book notes on page 702 mark a similar trend of about just 10 miles per year of bike lane installation for 2016, 2017, and 2018/19 (projected). The City should focus its efforts on engaging residents of South LA and other vulnerable communities highlighted in the Health and Equity Index to determine bicycle facility projects that align with the Mobility Plan.
Use prioritization criteria to drive equitable investments. The City should use prioritization criteria for all safety projects and programs . While the $52.4 million for “Other Safety Projects” is good, it remains unclear how these were chosen. The City should be transparent in prioritizing safety projects and use data-driven tools such as the High Injury Network (HIN), the Plan for a Healthy LA Community Health and Equity Index, the Sidewalk Repair Program criteria, and road reconstruction criteria to identify potential areas with the greatest need. This would provide an opportunity for continued coordination between City departments, and would also work to redress historical and systemic disinvestment in low income communities and communities of color.
Develop goals and performance measures for all safety projects and programs. The City should establish a transparent, public process for developing shared goals around safety, equity, accessibility, and sustainability. Similarly, the City should develop performance measures to evaluate outcomes that relate to each goal. For example, outcomes such as decreased traffic fatalities and reduced vehicle speeds on project corridors could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of safety investments.
Couple transportation investments with anti-displacement measures. LACBC is committed to ensuring that infrastructure improvements do not end up hurting the communities they aim to protect by displacing low-income residents. Nearly half of the HIN falls in neighborhoods with a greater percentage of people of color, immigrants, and low-income families. The City should ensure that increased resources are coupled with anti-displacement measures that preserve affordable housing and increase tenant protections. The City should consider using Measure M local return and/or other sources of revenue for affordable housing acquisition in areas where infrastructure investments are being made and that are particularly vulnerable to gentrification.
Clarify Vision Zero enforcement strategies. Collision data shows that a disproportionate number of serious and fatal collisions take place in communities that are exposed to over-policing and experience higher rates of violent police interactions, some of which have resulted in the untimely deaths of Black and Latinx residents. Vision Zero should not justify the over-policing of communities of color and the criminalization of low-income individuals, immigrants, youth, and transgender and queer individuals. As such, the City must be transparent with its Vision Zero enforcement activities by making these efforts publicly available, clearly articulating what they consist of, and transparently reporting its citation data. Similarly, the City should establish public oversight of the allocation of funds for enforcement activities and provide the public with information on how, when, and where deployment will occur.
In the interest of saving the lives of families, friends, and neighbors, Vision Zero encourages and necessitates that cities and public agencies reject the status quo and embrace change. LACBC urges the City of Los Angeles to move forward in its Vision Zero “year of action,” and to consider the recommendations outlined above. We hope to see Angelenos deeply engaged in a transparent process of designing their neighborhoods. We trust the proposed funding will result in Vision Zero projects that meaningfully address the core collision factors that regularly kill and injure people who bike in LA, without targeting historically neglected communities for increased enforcement.