On November 8th, 2016 voters in Los Angeles County passed four major ballot measures that will dramatically shape the future of the region. These measures allocate nearly $130 billion dollars over the next forty years that will provide Angelenos access to a robust public transportation system, a network of parks and open space and affordable, transit-oriented communities. Members of the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative supported numerous organizations and networks working on these issues, helping ensure that equity was at the forefront in conversations related to these new public investments.
- Measure M dwarfs all of the other measures, allocating over $120 billion to build out the transportation system in Los Angeles County. Backed by a wide variety of organizations and coalitions supported by members of the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative (including Move LA, Investing in Place, EnviroMetro and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition), over 75 percent of these funds will support transit oriented projects including the build out multiple rail and bus lines, and a network of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
- Measure A, based on an engaging parks needs assessment supported by several funders at the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative, serves as a national model for how equity can be written into a measure, with over $5 billion going to develop and maintain parks in Los Angeles County. Several funders from the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative supported organizations like Trust for Public Land and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, both of whom played leadership positions in the larger Our Parks Coalition.
- In the City of Los Angeles, Proposition HHH, championed by the California Community Foundation and multiple community development organizations, will generate $1.2 billion for supportive housing for the homeless.
- ACT-LA, a broad coalition of community-based organizations supported by several members of the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, partnered with Labor to pass Prop JJJ, which incentivizes the development of affordable housing along transit stations.
All of these combine represent a fundamental new vision for Los Angeles, one that is transit-oriented, affordable for everyone, and green. Having formed in response to Measure M’s predecessor, Measure R, the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative is keenly aware that community engagement is essential to ensure that these measures are implemented in a way that ensures equitable development without displacement.
On November 16th, the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative hosted a funder-only briefing that explored opportunities for engagement moving forward to create healthy, equitable and sustainable communities. The objective was to inspire, educate and engage funders on the smart growth infrastructure related investments in Los Angeles County. Beatriz Solìs, Program Director, Healthy Communities South Region at The California Endowment moderated the convening. She framed the discussion by asking how we can ensure that equity remains at the center of the conversation as we connect the development of our transportation and parks network with rolling out affordable housing.
Dr. Fernando J. Guerra, Founding Director, Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, gave an overview of the election results and noted how Democratic Los Angeles leaned in this election, compared to the rest of the country. He conducted exit polling and was able to determine relatively early that Measure M, A, and HHH would all pass, noting their popular support from voters (74.61 percent voted in favor of Measure A, 70.84 percent for M, 76.90 percent for HHH and 64.47 percent for JJJ). Related to housing, their exit polls showed only 14 percent of people believe young adults can’t afford average home in LA, underscoring the need for the development of affordable housing.
Vince Bertoni, Planning Director for the City of Los Angeles, discussed how these measures will get incorporated into planning processes that will ultimately shape the region. He said that planning tries to “balance diverse and competing needs that is not reacting to future but anticipating the future.” Mr. Bertoni noted that this takes place at the citywide level with the general plan, the neighborhood level with community plans, and the rewriting of the zoning ordinances that influences what development looks like. As they move forward with this work, he noted that gentrification and displacement are key challenges for multiple cities. Mr. Bertoni stressed the importance of connecting people to jobs and economic opportunities by expanding transportation options, particularly transit.
Funders also engaged in break out groups and explored how these new and existing funds can help them leverage public investments to build healthy, equitable and sustainable communities. Funders touched on supporting community organizing, capacity building and place-making, prioritizing low-income, communities of color. To continue this conversation, we invite you to join the Smart Growth California funder community.
This funder briefing is the fourth in a series of funder briefings hosted by the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, in partnership with Southern California Grantmakers. “Other sessions have included topics from climate change to building healthy communities.” Check the events page on our website for future funder briefings!