|Great news for Westside families! This week I helped lead an effort to secure free, unlimited transit passes for K-14 students in Los Angeles County.|
Working with Supervisor Holly Mitchell and Mayor Eric Garcetti, we led the board of LA Metro in the groundbreaking action, which will benefit more than 750,000 students across Los Angeles. Beginning in October, it will apply to all LAUSD students, students in 40 other school districts, and most community college students.
Here’s how it will work: if you have a student enrolled in LAUSD, they’ll be given a TAP card at school, along with instructions to create a corresponding account online, and… that’s it. No complicated verification processes, no weeks of waiting for approval. (For participating non-LAUSD districts, check with your school administrator for signup process.) Plus, it’s not just Metro: Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and Culver CityBus are in as well, ensuring seamless Westside fareless transit for students, no matter their route.
There are so many benefits to making Metro fareless for students. Educationally, it removes mobility as a barrier to student success. It will also untap unquantifiable benefits in personal growth, as these students will now be able to use Metro to get to parks, museums, lessons, and jobs without a second thought. And it doesn’t just improve their lives today, it makes them safer tomorrow: increasing use of public transportation gets cars off the road and helps prevent pollution and climate change.
To find out more about the program, click here. To check if your school district is participating, click here.
Pedestrian Improvements for Palisades Schoolgoers
Pacific Palisades parents and students have safer walks to and from school, thanks to improvements near Corpus Christi School. The neighborhood now boasts more effective stop signs and curb extensions.
Bulky Items Removed in SawtelleA team coordinated by Mike’s office removed a pile of illegally dumped items in Sawtelle this past week. If you would like to report bulky items for pickup, download the MyLA311 app, which makes it easy to do so.
Council Unanimously Supports Housing NowMike has often been a lonely legislative voice calling for faster, urgent, more cost-effective solutions to homelessness, but this past week the City Council unanimously approved a quick and nimble solution he has been championing for years.
The council approved the Housing Now legislation, co-introduced by Mike and his colleagues Councilmembers Mark Ridley-Thomas and Curren Price. It will build on successful models that get people off the streets and out of encampments quickly and permanently. We need quick action with tangible results to address homelessness. With the Venice Beach Encampments to Homes effort, we showed that with real, dedicated resources we can move people out of encampments, indoors, and on a path to permanent housing. #HousingNow Is how we do that all around LA.
The plan directs city staff to work with the County to expand one of the most successful homeless solutions — the Flexible Housing Subsidy program, which provides rent subsidies and master leased units to house people quickly, with needed services. The county has pioneered the approach with Housing for Health, which has been incredibly effective in that arena for just shy a of a decade, placing more than 14,000 people in long-term housing with an over 92% retention rate – particularly impressive given that this program was built to support some of the most extreme cases, including repeat emergency room visitors.
Mike has been pushing for the City to partner with with the County on this program since 2015. It is smart, effective, cost-effective – likely less expensive than shelters, tiny homes, or other interventions – and fast, allowing people to get off the streets almost as quickly as they say yes, and get access to services that help with any significant health, mental health and other needs.
Following the council vote, city staff will begin negotiating with LA County to enter into the program in an effort to rapidly house 10,000 people. Reimagining Public Safety: Mental Health ResponseIn order to improve public safety and emergency response to people experiencing mental health episodes, the City is piloting a new program that will deploy teams of trained mental health staffers to mental health emergencies, much like the celebrated CAHOOTS program in Oregon.
Under the program, specialized teams comprised of a Clinical Driver, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Licensed Psychiatric Technician that will be on call 24/7. These teams will operate out of LAFD stations, and one of the five stations in the pilot is Fire Station 59 in West LA, which will serve the Westside.The type of program was a key element of the “reimagining public safety” discussions that followed the murder of George Floyd. Mental health experts and law enforcement officials agreed he first response to a mental health crisis should be people with specific training and an ability to de-escalate situations.
More details on the program and its launch date coming soon.
Real Stories of Encampments to Homes: Jimmy
Jimmy’s ardent love for fashion and music is only outweighed by his desire to give back and work with the homeless community. After growing up in foster care, he found himself homeless and living in a tent on Venice Beach. He looks back upon his hardship and experience as lessons that enable him to work with the unhoused population. The stability and resources provided by moving indoors through the Encampments to Homes program has allowed him the freedom to see his future in a hopeful and positive light. Thanks to St. Joseph’s Center and LAHSA for their continued hard work.
Housing – how much, what kind, and where we build (or don’t build) – touches just about every aspect of our lives here in Los Angeles, and particularly on the Westside. Every eight years, Los Angeles revises what’s known as the Housing Element, a legally required planning document that guides the next eight years of planning in the city. Currently, city planners are finalizing the 2021-2028 Housing Element, the most recent revision of which is available online. To learn more about “The Plan to House Los Angeles,” click here.
Assistance for Renters AvailableThe City of Los Angeles is partnering with the State of California to allow Angelenos to access additional state and federal rental assistance funds. Under a new framework, the State will be responsible for processing applications and distributing relief funds for Angelenos. Eligible LA renters and landlords can apply for emergency assistance at HousingIsKey.com or by calling 833-430-2122. Additional information is also available at HCIDLA.lacity.org.
HAWK at Venice and Shell Nearing CompletionThe intersection of Venice Boulevard and Shell Avenue is getting a lot safer for pedestrians, thanks to sophisticated new crosswalk improvements.HAWK beacons – High-Intensity Activated Crosswalks – emit multiple flashing red lights that send motorists an unmistakable signal that they need to slow to a stop and allow pedestrians to pass. They also feature significantly more effective signage and pavement markings. The new beacon in Venice is slated for activation in the coming week.
Safer Streets in Mar VistaWestside Fast Forward continues to deliver safety, efficiency and mobility. This week, Mar Vista got a new left-turn signal activated at Inglewood and Washington Boulevards. The signal will create a better traffic flow for drivers, safer crossing for pedestrians, and ease of mind for everybody. Thanks to LADOT, as always, for the great work!
People Mover Progressing
As seen above, the automated people mover – an elevated tram – at LAX is starting to take shape. It will make getting in and out of LAX signficiantly easier, and it is just one part of a series of projects that will improve the passenger experience, and reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Universal Fareless Transit in LA?
With the launch of fareless passes for K-14 students, LA Metro has taken a major step, but Mike and some of his colleagues are continuing to push for the big picture item: an entirely fare-free transit system for everyone in Los Angeles County.
At this week’s Metro meeting, the board approved Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s motion to enhance the agency’s low-income fare program, simplifying the application process and attempting to double enrollment. It is a vital action for LA Metro, given that 70% of passengers are low-income and transit-dependent. (The median income of a Metro passenger is $18,000 per year.)Mike and Supervisor Mitchell are laying the groundwork for a universal fare free transit system, which is the fastest and most impactful way to make serious progress on improving ridership, mobility, equity, and efficiency – all deeply held Metro goals – and fighting climate change.
To apply for the low-income fare program, click here. But please note that the application is going to get a lot simpler in the next few weeks, as a result of the board action.
California Climate Action WeekIt is California Climate Action Week.
All week, the California Volunteers Office has been sharing useful and actionable tips on greening our individual lives. Recently released data showed that as a state, there’s much more we can do to conserve water. There are detailed resources for planting trees, diversifying your energy consumption and production, reducing organic waste, preparing for and preventing wildfires, and conserving water – click through for these resources and chip in for a greener California.
Live Theater Lives in WestchesterChristopher Durang’s hilarious classic, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, is currently in production at the Westchester Playhouse, presented by the Kentwood Players. Head to kentwoodplayers.org for tickets and more information.
At the Getty, In Focus: ProtestThe Getty’s powerful exhibit of protest photography is coming to a close on October 10. Featuring work from Dorothea Lange, Robert Mapplethorpe, John Simmons, Robert Flora, William James Warren, An-My Lê and Kris Graves.
Redistricting: Time to Make Your Voice Heard
Every ten years, following the results of the census, Los Angeles modifies the shape of its city council districts to maintain their balance. Right now, crucial decisions are being made about how representation works in Los Angeles, and it is time to weigh in. New draft maps have been released, and they will be discussed this week and throughout October before being presented to City Council, which must accept new boundaries by December. Here is exactly what happens between now and then:This Monday, September 27, the Redistricting Commission will meet to discuss the existing draft maps and the feedback they’ve received on them.This Thursday, September 30, the Commission will meet to adopt a draft map. On October 6, 9, 13, and 16, the Commission will present the draft map.On October 21, the Commission will adopt the final map.Finally, on October 28, the Commission will adopt its final report.The current map drafts under consideration by the Redistricting Commission are available here.
You can weigh in on the maps by giving comment at the meetings this Monday and Thursday (here’s the meeting schedule page), or by submitting written comment directly to the Commission here.
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