Channing Martinez is a community organizer for the Bus Riders’ Union with The Labor Community Strategy Center. When our interview committee met with him, it was obvious that he had a deep understanding of Los Angeles transportation equity and the mobilization and political determination required to bring about that change. As someone who has spent much of his life in Los Angeles reliant on his bike and bus service, Martinez understands how lack of people-centric mobility infrastructure, policing, and unreliable transit affect the daily lives of already strained communities of color.
Martinez’ response to Bike The Vote’s questionnaire was chock-full of knowledgeable positions. He pointed out the fact that to reach Vision Zero goals, Los Angeles needs not only to reduce vehicle speeds but also to reduce the overall number of vehicles on the road by providing viable alternatives to reduce auto-dependance such as free public transit and restrictions on where and when driving is allowed. However, his proposed justice-based approaches in many cases do call for more immediate and tactical solutions to save pedestrian lives while in the process of reaching the long term visionary goals. Martinez is an intentional and strong ally on safe streets, and a visionary for people-centric mobility. We hope he will continue to explore strategies to eliminate pedestrian fatalities, improve CD10’s bicycling infrastructure, and expand mobility safety education throughout the District, especially for disenfranchised residents.
Bike The Vote L.A. 2020 Primary Grade: A-
(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)
1. Transportation remains the largest source of greenhouse gases in California, and neighborhood oil extraction has been shown to pose significant health and safety risks to residents. Heavy spending by oil and gas companies in local elections casts doubt on whether voters can trust their elected leaders to protect them from these and other impacts. Will you pledge to refuse any donations, whether to your campaign or officeholder account, from the fossil fuel lobby?
Yes, I agree transportation is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions in California which is why am fighting for free public transportation and no cars in LA.
2. A longstanding lack of trust between law enforcement and the community has made passage through public space and on city streets rather fraught for many, especially teens and young men of color. What will you do to repair this relationship between law enforcement and the community they serve such that law enforcement can become a broadly trusted partner for CD10 residents?
My platform is calling for a 50% reduction in the LAPD budget. To say repair the relationship signifies that a relationship began on good terms, and history has told us the exact opposite. The LAPD is in charge of too many things that police officers are not supposed to be in charge of there should not be departments for mental health inside of the police department there should be a city Department of mental health as just one example. So the only real way to repair the relationship between the community and the police is for the police to leave the community alone and the only way that will happen is if you cut their budget in force them to stop harassing black and Latino people.
3. Many residents in South and Central Los Angeles lack access to cars. Of these, a large percentage, especially immigrants, depend on bikes as a way to get to work and school, but lack safe options to commute thanks to a host of factors, including prevalent speeding and inadequate infrastructure (lack of safe crossings, streets right-sized to deter speeding, school zoning signage) to instill safe routes to school on city streets in historically underserved communities. Mobility Plan 2035 established “safety first” as the City’s top priority in transportation decisions. Do you support prioritizing the safety of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable commuters in implementing Mobility Plan 2035, both in CD10 and throughout Los Angeles?
Yes I do support safety in terms of signage and access to safe transportation to school and zoning and all the elements that make up safety without the police. On the contrary I don’t think that this is the city’s top priority in fact I think the cities top priority has to be around housing given that they’re more than 44,000 houses people living on the streets.
4. 242 Angelenos were killed in car crashes in 2018, a 32% increase from 2015. Clearly, L.A. has failed to make significant progress towards Vision Zero, the concept that we can greatly reduce roadway deaths by building a transportation system in which the inevitable mistakes that people make are not deadly. Will you commit to setting aggressive goals for achieving significant reductions in traffic deaths in CD10 during your term and expand resources for implementation of and engagement of community based organizations on safety infrastructure?
I do agree that something needs to be done about the auto accidents, I don’t think simply reducing vehicle speed is an acceptable solution and certainly does not go far enough. We need alternatives to the single passenger automobile, and restrictions on when and where everyone can drive.
5. Los Angeles’ traffic woes are compounded by the reality that many parents and students don’t feel safe allowing their children to walk or bike to school. In October, a 4 year old in Council District 10 was killed by a turning driver on her way to school with her mother. What would you do as a councilmember to prioritize student safety and active transportation options around schools?
My platform is fighting for free public transportation and no cars in LA I am currently working with The Strategy Center and we’ve been fighting for free public transportation for the last five years we are now moving towards fighting for free public transportation for LAUSD students to begin with. Currently the city penalizes drives for minor infractions and for auto accidents that harm students and people in general, and while that might take a driver from behind the wheel temporarily or even permanently, it still targets one driver and blames them for the ins and outs of an auto-centered city. The only way to solve this issue is to move away from being automobile centered and move toward a collective community with free public transportation, parks, and “walkable cities” for those who already live there.
6. Please respond to the following questions regarding specific CD10 issues and projects:
6A. In 2013-2014, local non-profit Community Health Councils led a community discussion around making Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd safer by implementing bike lanes on the street. Despite widespread community support for the project from Empowerment Congress West (ECWA), North Area Neighborhood Development Council, the Cherrywood-Leimert Block Club, the McClung/Bronson Block Club, and Crenshaw WALKS!; the current CD10 office delayed and eventually quietly shelved the project. Would you support implementing bike lanes or protected bike lanes on King Blvd?
Yes I would.
6B. Venice Boulevard is identified by the Department of Transportation as a vital East/West bike route, but has no bike safety infrastructure between Arlington Ave. and Downtown Los Angeles. Do you support implementation of bike lanes or protected bike lanes on Venice Boulevard to provide safer and more equitable access between CD10 and Downtown?
6C. The installation of a new fence around Leimert Park Plaza in 2018 has initiated difficult and divisive conversations about the role of public space and who gets to use it, particularly in a neighborhood that is facing rapid gentrification. What role do you see for Leimert Park Plaza? Do you see the fence as a necessary element or something that should be removed?
Fences, as mentioned in the film Fences are either used to keep people out or keep people in; and in my opinion a fence around a public gathering space is designed to keep people out and masks the cities own issues around housing and homelessness by blaming, objectifying and criminalizing houseless people as opposed to implementing necessary initiatives to help houseless people. The fence is being used as a mechanism to keep houseless people from sleeping in the park. In my opinion rather than building a fence south la needs an emergency shelter for houseless people and a long term plan to solve all of the issues that lead to homelessness.
6D. Streets like Adams, Jefferson, and Washington Boulevards around West Adams area schools are among the most dangerous streets in the City. Requests from parents and local groups to improve the safety of students on neighborhood streets have gone unanswered by the current office (e.g. Washington Blvd. and Burnside Ave. near New L.A. Charter Middle School). What would you commit to do to improve the safety of students getting to school on foot, by transit, and by bike?
Yes I would, I’d like to speak to local groups to gather more information on the issue and to discuss possible solutions. Again, there is no sense in criminalizing individuals for an auto centered city, rather we need to implement a lot of elements of a collective Community, including bus only lanes, bike lanes, restricted single passenger automobile usage over all and in particular times on select streets, etc.