Cyclists and Supporters Roll Up in Numbers to Support 10% for Bikes and PedsApril 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 4 Comments
Tags: Measure R
We asked for your help to come to City Hall and join us in voicing our support for a 10% allocation of funds from Measure R to go directly to bicycle and pedestrian related projects, and our call to arms was answered enthusiastically.
Monday afternoon at the City Council Joint Hearing with the Transportation and Budget & Finance Committees, a group of fifteen showed up to voice their support for the 10% set-aside for bicycles and pedestrians.
During the public comments section, it was absolutely exciting to see plethora of speakers support 10% for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Many speakers also spoke about the need for a combined 10%, not separating 5% for bicycle projects and 5% for pedestrian projects, to allow for flexibility with the funds. Aurisha Smolarski, Woody Joseph, Dorothy Le, Alexis Lantz, Ramon Martinez, Irving Pham and Sully from LACBC, Hilary Norton, Executive Director from FAST, Lauren Ahkiam and Max Podemski from Pacoima Beautiful, JJ Moore, Faramarz Nabavi, Glenn Bailey and Greg Tedesco spoke strongly in support of 10% set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects. There were also many people who attended the meeting and showed their support who didn’t speak. LACBC members and supporters made strong arguments stating public safety, necessity, economic benefits, and support for the 10% as a commitment to implementing bike and pedestrian infrastructure on our streets. Sully even sang an Irish Sonnet in support. Hilary Norton spoke about the need for multi-mobility and making bicycling a viable form of transportation. Max Podemski and Lauren Ahkiam spoke about their Pacoima Wash multiuse path and vision and Complete Streets projects in Pacoima and the need for funding for such projects. JJ Moore made succinct comments about cyclists facing dangers everyday and the need for better infrastructure. Glenn Bailey spoke about the need and support. Greg Tasco spoke about the safety concerns and need. All in all, there was a strong visible showing from the bicycling and walking community about the 10% issue, which provided noticeable political pressure when the Councilmembers discussed the proposal following public comments.
We would like to acknowledge that council members Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl openly showed their support for committing to a transportation policy that would include pedestrians and cyclists, by having a 10% discrete set-aside. Transportation Committee Chair Rosendahl spoke about how cyclists and pedestrians have never gotten their fair share of funding and this is just a start to planning for the future. Koretz recalled a short anecdote about how 35 years ago he supported a candidate that promised to build increased bicycle infrastructure in Los Angeles.35 years later, Koretz said he has seen very little that has been done for bicycle infrastructure and that he hopes 35 years from now that things will be different. He emphasized that to make this happen, we need to move forward with these projects now.
Councilman Bernard Parks proposed changing the wording to up to ten percent rather than a solid ten percent for cyclists and pedestrians. He explained that this would give the city fiscal flexibility rather than causing them problems as Prop C and Prop O had done in the past.
Councilman Greg Smith made it clear that he thought that 10% for pedestrians and cyclists was an arbitrary number that wasn’t backed by any reports or figures. Councilmen Parks and Smith held firm in their opinions that the money could possibly be better used on other projects.Maybe they simply don’t understand that there are literally thousands of shovel ready projects for bicycles and pedestrians throughout Los Angeles, that will be very cost effective and beneficial to all residents of Los Angeles. Work will have to be done to educate them.
During Councilman LaBonge’s comments, he reached out to the Mayor’s office to provide input on the proposal. Jaime De La Vega, Transportation Deputy for the Mayor, was adamant about the mayor’s intentions for supporting the policy. He stated that this would be a policy prioritization for the future and it would set the precedent for the future that money should be spent on mass cyclists and pedestrian projects. LACBC is very pleased with the Mayor’s office strong, firm and vocal support for this policy of a 10% set-aside, and no less than 10%.
Disappointingly, because of Parks’ and Smiths’ opposition to the full 10%, Rosendahl made an amended proposal for a full 10% but City Council would have to review the funding after 2010/2011 fiscal year to ensure that the full 10% was spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects. That means that advocates and community members will have to work to ensure that the City implements projects that would utilize the 10% fully in the coming year. In addition, the policy was amended to be 10% combined, not 5% for each mode, allowing for more flexibility based on need.
In the end, Rosendahl, Koretz, Huizar and a tardy LaBonge voted in favor of the proposal. LACBC is very disappointed that Parks and Smith voted against the proposal. The final vote was 4-2 in favor of the full 10% set-aside for cyclists and pedestrians.
In addition, at the meeting, Councilmember Alarcón presented an official letter stating his position on the issue, which was a full yes vote. As a point of clarity, Councilmember Alarcón was the one who initiated the motion verbally and should be credited with being a long time supporter of the 10% set-aside for bikes/peds.
Now that this proposal has passed the Budget and Transportation Committees, the item will be on the Full City Council’s agenda for Tuesday April 27th, 10am. The agenda is not yet released. Once it is released, we will let people know. The Mayor has also released his budget April 20th and there will be hearings associated with his budget that Measure R Local return will play a part.
The full Budget process is slated to be tentatively finished around June. In between now and June, LACBC will continue to call upon our very members, supporters, partners and allies and the entire bicycling and walking community to work together to make this 10% a reality. Please keep on the look-out for Action Alerts and Meeting requests.
If you want to get involved further, please e-mail TenPercent@la-bike.org