Grace Yoo is a lawyer who is running to represent CD10 for the second time after mounting an unsuccessful challenge to Wesson in 2015. Yoo has positioned herself as a changemaker ready to battle politics as usual and corruption on the City Council. She emphasized this need for change in her response to Bike The Vote’s questionnaire, with some laudable statements about improving quality of life through providing better transportation options. From our group meeting with Yoo, it was clear that her predominant experience traveling in Los Angeles is by car, and we would encourage her to diversify her experience to help better inform her policy positions. Our committee was concerned by a few exchanges during our meeting, particularly related to responsibility in deadly car crashes, and the lack of a clear response to the reality of racial profiling that black and brown residents face.
Yoo’s written response to Bike The Vote, however, shows her to be a very thoughtful and determined advocate who stresses the need for urgency in implementation to achieve Vision Zero and is ready to champion roadway safety around schools. We appreciated the opportunity to connect with Yoo and hope to continue a dialog that helps build out her transportation platform.
Bike The Vote L.A. 2019 Primary Grade: B-
(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?
I am focused on utilizing my grassroots campaign to engage with people from throughout the communities of CD 10 and Los Angeles. I want to stay true to my vision of reform and change for the City and thus, I do not accept donations from mega developers, the oil & gas industry, the pharmaceutical industry, or the insurance industry. I will pledge that once I am elected to office to continue to not take funds from the fossil fuel or any other large lobby.
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?
We need to work with advocacy groups on implementing the best practices and pursue recruiting more women and people of color to the police force. Having these minorities represented in the community of law enforcement allows for a more inclusive police force and a decrease in utilizing excessive or dangerous force against people of color. When any incident comes up, we must hold individual officers accountable and prosecute accordingly. We need to make good-faith efforts to restore trust in the community in our peace-keepers by way of community outreach via advocacy groups and listening to and working local activists on these issues.
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 support Mobility Plan 2035 and believe that the safety of our residents and community members should remain a priority when considering any transportation decisions. Transportation, along with a host of other factors, play an essential role in determining the quality of life, access to opportunities, and overall health of those who live throughout Los Angeles, and especially for those who rely on public transportation or other modes of transit to get to school, work, community resources, and home.
Simple steps, like slowing speed limits around schools and areas with heavier foot and bike traffic and ensuring that crosswalks on busier streets are well-lit and visible to drivers and pedestrians, can make a difference in communicating the City’s dedication to safety.
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?
One of the most significant factors in considering the deadliness of LA’s streets is speed. We know that the speed of a moving vehicle plays a fundamental role in determining the deadliness of a traffic collision: traffic collisions where the vehicle traveled at 20 MPH see a 5% pedestrian fatality rate, whereas cars that were traveling around 40 MPH see an 80% pedestrian fatality rate. Additionally, urban planning that has prioritized cars over active transportation modes means streets are inherently less safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and users of public transportation.
As a former Los Angeles City Department of Transportation Commissioner, I know that the Vision Zero goals and objectives are exemplary in reducing traffic fatalities. The project is inclusive and the planners have taken time to focus on even the tiniest details: curb ramps to relocating bus stop locations to tree trimming, etc. The list of projects is well thought-out and comprehensive. The DOT is also making sure they receive input from community leaders in order to take their perspectives on community issues into consideration. For example, the DOT considers socio-economic factors, status of infrastructure, the impact to people who are unhoused, etc., in their planning policies.
While I believe in the goals of Vision Zero, I am very concerned about how long the implementation is taking and the lack of urgency and prioritization among City leaders. During my first week in office, I will meet with DOT leadership to discuss funding, staffing, and other ways to speed up and implement Vision Zero guidelines. The first priority of elected officials is the public safety for all residents and visitors. Vision Zero gives us the tools, information, and guidelines to make our streets are much safer. It is up to us to make it a priority and implement these guidelines.
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,
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?
I am a proud LAUSD alumni and as a graduate of the second largest public school system in the country, I know that we need to do more to protect our students and families when they are going to and from school. As a Councilmember, I would champion increased crossing times at intersections around the vicinity of each school and limiting street widenings in these areas, as wider streets can often result in increased speeds on those roads. I would also look to implement road diets around schools and the surrounding neighborhoods, so that we can promote active transportation modes for students and their families by having designated protected bike lanes and accessible stops for public transportation. I also value the importance of shade trees in our neighborhoods and brought a lawsuit against the City as a member of United Neighborhoods 4 Los Angeles (UN4LA) to stop the City from removing the shade trees that lined our neighborhoods. I want to ensure that our sidewalks are well-maintained and tree-lined to encourage more students to walk and to protect families as they walk their children to and from school. With a slower rate of travel, paired with safety designs around schools that make pedestrians and non-vehicle commuters more visible, we can help LAUSD families feel safe when sending their students to school.
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. In my own campaign, I have had several of my college interns bike around these areas to and from their respective universities and on more than one occasion, they have told me a harrowing tale of the dangers of their commute. I can only imagine what this situation is like for residents of CD 10 who rely on their bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. Currently, King Blvd has a bike lane between Main Street and Central Ave; I would encourage the expansion of this bike lane through King Blvd. Given that South and Southeast LA have the 757, 754, and 705 Metro Rapid lines, as well as the Metro Blue, Expo, and Silver lines, I believe we need to use a mix of bike lanes, protected bicycle lanes, and buffered bike lanes to set aside protected lanes of traffic for our cyclists and commuters who rely on multiple modes of transport. I would also look into establishing bicycle facilities that provide basic facilities to accommodate commuters. I would support the Year 2035 Proposed Land Use Plan with Preferred Network proposition to reclassify King Blvd between Van Ness Ave and Figueroa Street as a Modified Avenue I that would implement a road diet or set aside street parking to accommodate bicycle lanes.
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?
Yes. Again, looking to the foundation set by the Year 2035 Proposed Land Use Plan with Preferred Network, I would support reclassifying Venice Blvd between Arlington Ave and Hoover street to a Modified Avenue II to reduce lanes and build bike lanes to address this startling lack of bike safety infrastructure. These steps will allow residents of CD 10 to commute to and from Downtown LA without having to worry about their personal safety or use alternative modes of transportation that would be an economic or timely detriment to their lives. Economic opportunity should not be limited to those who can afford it and the physical and mental health of an individual should not be reliant on their chosen mode of transportation, regardless of where they hail from.
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?
A public space is just that: open and available to the public for use. Our public spaces are areas where the community can gather and use without discrimination and the fence around Leimert Park Plaza is a violation of this central idea. Leimert Park Plaza should be seen as a boon to the community, not as a divisive tool that establishes a difference in the socioeconomic status of the residents. I firmly support the removal of this fence as it does not, in any way, seek to serve, unite, or welcome the residents of this community.
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?
As I explained in my response to question #5, there are a number of methods by which we can improve and prioritize the safety of our students and their families in their daily commute. I would not only look to work with our Department of Transportation, but I would also welcome and utilize the Community Plans of the Mobility Plan 2035 as the general goals of this framework have been set forward by community members. I will look to improve pedestrian visibility on crosswalks and at intersections surrounding our schools, designate protected bike lanes, prioritize street maintenance, and implement road diets and reduced speeds of traffic as needed. I am open and willing to engage with all members of our local communities to hear their concerns and work on implementing pragmatic solutions to this problem.