Dear Transportation Committee: Use Local Return to Save Lives

On Wednesday, March 29th, LA City Council Transportation Committee members will consider how to spend Measure M Local Return dollars - roughly $50 million every year for the foreseeable future. 

Los Angeles Walks believes a significant portion of these funds should be used to build an equitable street and sidewalk system that is safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation across LA.

Read our letter to the City Council Transportation Committee below.


Dear Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee Members,

What a terrific opportunity Measure M Local Return funding presents for the City of Los Angeles, which already has forward-looking plans in place to guide this critical decision – one that has the potential to significantly improve the safety, comfort, and convenience of road users of all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation long into the future.

Los Angeles Walks urges City Council members to take into account the key policy initiatives, strategies, and goals of both Mobility Plan 2035 and the Vision Zero Action Plan when considering how to spend future Local Return funding.

Ultimately, we ask that you consider committing 20% of Local Return to fund safety-enhancing projects that help the City to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries in Los Angeles and achieve Vision Zero.

Both Mobility Plan 2035 and Vision Zero prioritize safety and call for a transportation system that, above all else, preserves and protects human life. In fact, a key principle of Vision Zero Los Angeles is that government policies at all levels should be coordinated to promote safety as the highest priority. Mobility Plan 2035 calls on the City to use data to prioritize transportation decisions that strive towards equity in safety, public health, access, social benefits, and economic benefits.

As the City prepares to receive roughly $50 million in sales tax revenue every year through Local Return, this is an important moment to remember these principles and to acknowledge the true cost of our current transportation system.

In Los Angeles in 2016, 260 children, older adults, men, and women were killed in traffic collisions, making LA the deadliest city for traffic crashes in the United States. Sadly, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14 in Los Angeles County.

The status quo is not acceptable. And in fact, conditions are worsening. Pedestrian fatalities in Los Angeles jumped by almost 50% between 2015 and 2016. Meanwhile, current Vision Zero funding - $3 million in 2017 – is woefully inadequate. Upon the release of the Vision Zero Action Plan, LA Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds noted that millions more dollars are required in order to reach the City’s 2017 goal to reduce severe and fatal injuries for people walking and bicycling by 20%. 

Knowing this, an investment strategy that puts two-thirds of Measure M Local Return into repaving D and F streets, and divides that funding by 15 City Council districts, is not just outdated, its irresponsible. It ignores the core principles of our most visionary plans and policies, which call for City investments that protect life, health, and community while improving transportation.

For these reasons, we urge you to commit 20% of Local Return funding to Vision Zero efforts and projects that work to create “complete streets” in Los Angeles – those that take into account the many community needs that streets fulfill.

As the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan states, “As the city with the most traffic deaths per capita, funding for solutions must match the severity of the problem.”

One final consideration that the City Council should acknowledge is that Local Return funds are often used to provide matching funds for active transportation projects where the City is pursuing grant funds from state and federal agencies like Caltrans and the FTA. These granting sources often don’t fund critical features like street trees, traffic calming devices like curb extensions, and street furniture. The City’s Local Return dollars can be used to fund these important design features of active transportation projects.

Los Angeles Walks calls on City Council members to channel the visionary, ambitious spirit of Mobility Plan 2035 and LA Vision Zero when considering how to invest Measure M Local Return.

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