By Mehmet Berker of Los Angeles Walks and Aziz Fellague Ariouat & Jessica Meaney of Investing in Place
Today, on Tuesday the 24th of November, the Los Angeles City Council is set to take up an amended version of Council File 20-1376. This ordinance purports to amend Section 41.18 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (which makes it illegal to sit, sleep or lie down on the sidewalk) in a way that would pass muster under the decision in Martin v. Boise, a Federal court case that determined that such a blanket ban was unconstitutional. In the immediate term, thanks to the tireless effort of activists, the City Council seems to be not voting on the item today.Read more
Southern California Families for Safe Streets steering committee and our various family foundation members have penned a public letter to their state legislators calling on policymakers to do away from the state's 85th Percentile Rule, which states if enough people are driving a certain speed, that should be the speed limit. To no surprise this has caused what many call speed creep and have made our roads more dangerous.
Any approach to determining street speed must also incorporate the needs of local communities and those who walk, not just cars. Feel free to download and share with your elected officials!Read more
In just a few days, it will be World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Violence and this year what better way to uplift our family stories than through poetry? Today we share the work of SoCal Families for Safe Streets* member and poet, Michele McLaren. Traffic violence is often seen through two tragedies: one for the victim and the other for their family and friends. Michele brings both to you today:
Nowadays it feels like we can all use a hero or shero. So we're happy to introduce Peatónito! He comes to us from Mexico City, where he began his masked work saving lives and slowing traffic. And Peatónito has traveled beyond, from NYC to Los Angeles, fighting against the crime of poorly designed streets & sidewalks and reckless driving through creative public demonstrations and street theater.
The pedestrian is nobody in this city, he has been forgotten by authorities and our own citizenry. The curious and paradoxical thing is that we are all pedestrians at some moment. As such, we have forgotten ourselves.
Ever wonder how your neighborhood was designed? How you can shape it?
Whether it's building a new grocery store, installing more crosswalks, or getting a bus shelter, community voice is critical for community design that will last for generations. But what happens when community input is, well, just a courtesy?
Welcome to Eagle Rock.Read more
by Mehmet Berker, Board Member of Los Angeles Walks
A community block party, pre COVID-19, co-organized with resident partners to help neighbors reimagine a more walkable neighborhood.
As cities across the world respond to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19, some are making temporary changes to the public realm to ensure that people have adequate space to move around. Philadelphia, New York City, and more dramatically Bogotá, Colombia, are closing off some streets or parts of streets for people on bike and foot only. Should Los Angeles do the same?
We at Los Angeles Walks would answer yes, enthusiastically so.Read more
Hi, I'm Irais, a member of Los Angeles Walks, and I had the opportunity to work with LA Walks and Best Start Wilmington in different projects to improve my community. Now that I start a new chapter in San Angelo, Texas, I take my learning experience and the love of many people with me.
For me, community is teamwork, lifting each other up. It is belonging. I am inspired to make my community a better place because everyone, be that people, animals, vegetation (every living being) deserves to have a space that offers us quality of life.
During my time as a community leader in Wilmington and San Pedro, I learned that it is very enriching to value and understand different types of personalities and contributions that each person can give us, in addition to the fact that there are no limits or borders when we have the conviction for the common good.
Together with my colleagues, we succeeded in learning, to not give up. We transcended and enriched ourselves with people, experiences, and goals met. For example, in our case, we were able to secure a decorative crosswalk for our community.
During my time with LA Walks, I learned not to give up. I learned to trust and start over if necessary. I learned that we all own the streets, and to see [streets] in a more personal way because they are ours. They belong to everyone.
Now that I am in a different community, I am always looking for the best way, from my perspective, that the streets are planned, that they are inclusive for everyone, that they are safe. I begin to explain to people that the streets must also be designed for pedestrians, cyclists, and people with different abilities.
To conclude this blog, I would like to share a song with you: La Bicicleta - Carlos Vives and Shakira. La Bicicleta is a song that carries freshness and good vibes to me when I go out to the street and make these streets ours. It reminds me of the sea breeze, the sun, that sense of belonging, of going out and seeing my neighbors, of telling stories. I hope this song motivates you, conveys the feelings that I feel, and that inspires you to get involved in creating more vibrant streets.Read more
On Monday, April 8, Los Angeles Walks will welcome our new Executive Director, John Yi.
While I am sad to leave Los Angeles Walks, I am thrilled that we secured such a highly qualified, experienced, and passionate candidate for this unique position. (Meet him in person on April 17! More info.)
As Los Angeles Walks' first staff person and first full-time executive director, I am proud of how steadily the organization has grown since I started in October 2015. LA Walks’ team has expanded to three full-time staff people; one part-time employee; regular fellows and interns; and a larger, more diverse advisory board.
I am most proud of having led a strategic planning process that helped shift LA Walks' focus from grasstops advocacy to community-based training and mobilizing.
Along with LA Walks’ advisory board and staff, we clarified LA Walks' primary goal: to build power that will push safe streets policies, projects, and programs in neighborhoods across Los Angeles and citywide. I am excited that LA Walks staff now train and mobilize residents from Panorama City, West Adams, MacArthur Park, Koreatown, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington.
We also established LA Walks' values and articulated the organization’s efforts to shift culture by developing SoCal Families for Safe Streets, amplifying the voices of those who have lost a loved one in a traffic collision or survived a severe crash.
Families for Safe Streets has been an increasingly powerful project of LA Walks -- one that demonstrates the urgent need for strong leadership and real solutions. This was evident very recently: immediately after our March 24th vigil for Christian Vega LADOT announced safety changes the department will now make to the deadly intersection.
Los Angeles Walks has tremendous momentum right now, and John Yi is perfectly suited to lead the organization into its next phase.
With an extensive background in organizing for social equity, campaign strategy, organizational growth, and team management, John has the skills and experience necessary to continue to build the movement for safe streets in Los Angeles. With his political savvy, John also comes in ready to mobilize that base to effect real change at the neighborhood and city level -- understanding how to identify and capitalize on opportunities to demonstrate power, demand change, and transform LA city streets.
Los Angeles Walks and the movement for safe streets in Los Angeles is just getting started, and under John’s leadership I am confident it will absolutely thrive.
It has been a privilege and pleasure to lead Los Angeles Walks during its earliest stages as an organization. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Emilia Crotty, Outgoing Executive Director
After five months of planning, on February 23, 2019, fourteen Best Start Metro LA members and Los Angeles Walks co-hosted a neighborhood block party to bring community members together, reclaim public space for people, and gain support for safer streets.
Community members took over Gramercy Place between Adams Blvd. and W. 25th St. for four hours, creating a comfortable, safe space for all ages and abilities to enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Over 150 neighbors, children, and seniors from Independent Square attended, including local community organizations. Children enjoyed a variety of activities, from creating their own street safety sign to playing soccer. Laughter spread across the block as children hopscotched and created their own chalk art thanks to Libertas College Preparatory.
Adults gathered resources from community-based organizations, like T.R.U.S.T South LA, Anthem Blue Cross, LIFT, Women’s Center, Para los Niños, and Best Start. Seniors enjoyed playing Pedestrian Bingo led by LA Walks and danced to El Diablito’s DJ mix.
WHY GRAMERCY PLACE?
“I proposed to have the block party in my area to call the City’s attention [to the need for] a ramp so people in wheelchairs/walkers and with disabilities can have access to the bus stop,” said Karina Noriega, a resident of Independent Square and a Best Start Metro LA member. Without hesitation, Karina’s fellow Best Start Metro LA members agreed to the idea.
At the block party Best Start Metro LA members led participants on a short walk to assess sidewalks and curb ramps for accessibility in the surrounding neighborhood. Here’s what one participant had to say:
“ It was a complicated walk. There was no curve ramps and drivers were speeding. Sidewalks were not stable and need to be fixed”.
-Annie Mejia-Torres, Block Party Participant, shown in the far left in the image above
WHY A BLOCK PARTY IF WE WANT SYSTEMS + POLICY CHANGE?
The collaboration between Los Angeles Walks and Best Start Metro LA members has resulted in increased awareness of built environment concerns and sense of collective power among BSC members.
Through the planning process, BSC Metro LA members learned to research and assess the built environment in an unfamiliar neighborhood, supporting one of their colleagues’ efforts to improve the accessibility for people of all physical abilities on St. Andrews Place and Adams Blvd. By organizing and executing a block party, members learned about the City's special event permitting system barriers and Council District's limitations. More importantly, members increased their sense of leadership, shared their expertise and skills with one another, and were reminded that they could accomplish goals by working together.
“When there is unity we demonstrate our community power”.
-Jose Camacho, Best Start Metro LA member and Block Party Organizer, shown in the center
A collective sense of hope and increased sense of leadership are the building blocks that lead to systems change. With an understanding of City processes and how to demonstrate and apply their collective power, community members are poised to create tangible change.
Community members submitted a Service Request through the Sidewalk Repair Program regarding the uneven/raised sidewalk along the north side of Adams Blvd. between St. Andrews Place and Western Ave. They also submitted a request regarding the need for a ramp at the street crosswalk on the south side of Adams Blvd. and St. Andrews Place.
Importantly, BSC Metro LA members are building relationships with Council President Wesson's Office and ADA Compliance Officer in order to follow the progress of each of their requests. Members are asking who else they should communicate with to make the ramp construction a priority, and how to fund this important work.
Videography produced by: Genie Deez
Photo Credits: Red Heart Media, Cristina Valadez, and Emilia Crotty
We're looking for a new Executive Director!
After three and a half years in Los Angeles and with Los Angeles Walks, I have decided to return to the east coast to be closer to family, including my twin sister and her new baby, Inés (below).
This week LA Walks began accepting applications for our Executive Director position.
Could you live 3,000 miles away from this cuteness?
To be sure, I would be thrilled to continue to grow LA Walks. I want to increase our impact in neighborhoods across LA and help to build a movement for safe streets in a city where the need and demand for a new status quo is so great.
But it was SoCal Families for Safe Streets (FSS), a project of LA Walks, that provided me with the clarity to decide to step away from this terrific work.
FSS members remind us that life can change in an instant. I intend to take advantage of the time I have with people I love -- and they happen to live in the frigid northeast.
As the first staff person at Los Angeles Walks, I am so proud of how steadily the organization has grown. We now have three full-time and one part-time employees; a developed and more diverse advisory board; and a more focused, community-centered plan to make walking safe, accessible, and equitable throughout Los Angeles.
Part of the LA Walks team
We have exciting activities in store this year, including more community training and mobilizing efforts that develop and demonstrate support for safe streets across the city.
The organization needs a bold but grounded leader who understands the everyday concerns of people who walk and roll. We need someone who can inspire residents to reject business-as-usual and demand safer, healthier neighborhoods for our most vulnerable populations -- neighborhoods where people are secure to stay for years to come.
I'm not leaving yet, so hope to see you at a walk or event soon! (More info coming via social media.)