2017 Los Angeles CD15 Endorsement: Joe Buscaino

Primary Election day: Tuesday, March 7, 7am-8pm
Find your Council District: http://neighborhoodinfo.lacity.org/
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Early in his first full term as a City Councilmember, Joe Buscaino was confronted by San Pedro constituents who were furious about the installation of bike lanes on Westmont and Capital Drives. Some residents called the situation a “nightmare.” Such hyperbole is all-too-frequently taken as gospel in Los Angeles, so it was refreshing to see Buscaino’s shockingly rational response to the uproar: he simply drove the streets during the morning rush hour to see for himself.

From that moment on, Buscaino’s commitment to prioritizing safe streets and encouraging sustainable alternatives to driving has been strong and nearly unwavering. In 2013, Los Angeles Streetsblog asked, “Is Joe Buscaino the Next Bill Rosendahl?” After Buscaino co-authored a series of bills aimed at L.A.’s hit and run epidemic, including a yellow alert system and standing rewards to help identify those responsible, Streetsblog answered their own question by awarding him a Streetsie as 2015 Elected Official of the Year.

Buscaino plays an important role in advocating for active transportation as Chair of the Council’s Public Works Committee and Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee. But perhaps his strongest contribution towards safe streets has been his willingness and ability to engage with residents – particularly on his YouTube channel and on Facebook – to understand the challenges of making Los Angeles a more livable city.

In 2014, Buscaino documented a bike/bus/train commute to work, where he worked to understand the issues transit commuters face. In 2015 he celebrated Bike to Work Week with an impressive 25-mile rainy day bike commute with a small group, including his deputy (and 2014 Streetsie winner), John Jones III (Buscaino repeated the feat for Bike to Work Week on Facebook Live in 2016). Buscaino was a strong voice of support for Mobility Plan 2035, and recently stood up in opposition to Measure S (which Bike The Vote L.A. opposes), thoughtfully communicating his position regarding what kind of city Los Angeles should become.

Buscaino also deserves praise for his work with communities in his district that are often marginalized in public discussions. A 2013 outreach effort took an in-depth look at the needs of Buscaino’s constituents in Watts, taking particular care to involve young people and engage a broad cross-section of the neighborhood in the process. Among other things, the report led Buscaino’s office to support the efforts of nonprofit From Lot to Spot to turn vacant lots into community gardens and pop-up playgrounds.

With this outstanding track record, Buscaino is the right choice to lead continued efforts on neighborhood safety, livability and vitality. Bike The Vote L.A. is proud to endorse Joe Buscaino for Council District 15.

(See below for Joe Buscaino’s response to Bike The Vote L.A.)

1. What future do you see  for active mobility, and public transit in the daily lives of Angelenos, particularly those who lack access to cars and rely on these other modes as their primary way of getting around?

I was an avid supporter of Measure M in November. It is a great example of responsible fiscal legislation, a minor sales tax increase that would surge into our City’s transportation budget that would further incorporate and bridge more communities together through improving our public transit system. I personally have been able to bike through Los Angeles to further prove the accessibility and potential of alternative methods of traveling through the city, which can be viewed here.

2. A high percentage of people without access to cars in Northeast Los Angeles, especially immigrants, depend on bikes as a way to get to work and school, but lack safe options to commute. Additionally the prevalence of speeding on L.A. streets takes a deadly toll on those who walk and bike, including seniors and children. Mobility Plan 2035 established “safety first” as the priority in transportation decisions, and the City has since adopted the ‘Vision Zero’ program with the goal of eliminating traffic-deaths within 10 years. Do you support prioritizing the safety of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable commuters, both in CD15 and throughout Los Angeles, even when there may be trade-offs in terms of automotive travel time or on-street parking?

As Councilmember, I have been a strong advocate for bike share programs along the Los Angeles Waterfront and both Downtown San Pedro and Wilmington neighborhoods for connectivity purposes. In addition, my council office fought to implement and protect new bike lanes throughout San Pedro and ensure the safety of them in order for our community members to utilized them. As an alternative transportation advocate and Councilmember, I proposed motion 13-0025-S1 , which initiated an incentive program that offers rewards to individuals with information that would lead to convicting hit-and-run crimes. I was also awarded 2015 Streetsies Elected Official of the Year for my continued work to fight for cyclists and pedestrians.

3. Los Angeles’ traffic woes are compounded by the reality that many parents and workers don’t feel safe commuting even short distances or performing school drop-offs on foot or by bike. What would you do as Councilmember to improve active transportation options around schools, public transit, and in commercial districts to provide better transportation options for CD15 residents?

As a Councilmember, I have publicly supported and strongly advocated for the Mobility 2035 Plan. My legislative agenda and actions also extend themselves to sidewalk repair, bike facilities, affordable housing, and transit expansion. I have also worked with local organizations and cicLAvia to bring in the first cicLAvia into CD 15.

4. Angelenos recently approved Metro’s transportation funding plan, Measure M, with an impressive mandate of support from over 71% of voters. What opportunities do you see for Measure M to improve the options for Angelenos get around in CD15 and elsewhere? Given that Measure M will return millions of dollars directly to the City of Los Angeles each year, do you support increased funding to make biking and walking in the city easier and safer for Angelenos?

Absolutely, I fully support increased funding to make biking and walking safer. As Councilmember, I have also introduced legislation over the years that specifically address those issues and concerns. As Chair of the Public Works Committee, I have consistently made it a priority that resources are properly allocated towards fixing our streets and sidewalks.

5. The Ports O’Call development project has the opportunity to be transformative for San Pedro and the South Bay region. What specific improvements, if any, would you propose to maximize access on foot, by bicycle, and by transit to this project?

Similar to the dense bike lane concentration found in Wilmington, I will advocate for such improvements as well as look into bringing in the bicycle rental/ride shares throughout the community and safe sidewalks. I will make sure that our decaying streets are updated and improved in order for our community members to full take advantage of them and bridge communities together.

6. Los Angeles is beginning to employ bike share as a new transportation option, but many barriers to access remain, particularly the cost of riding and the fact that a credit card is needed to use the system. Some cities have offered subsidies to low-income riders and cash payment options to address these issues. What can the City of Los Angeles do to help as many residents as possible enjoy the benefits that bike share will bring?

As Councilmember, I worked with community leaders throughout all the neighborhoods in my district and was able to implement bike lanes through areas no one thought would happen, like Watts, Wilmington and San Pedro. In doing so, it has opened an opportunity for alternative transportation, community events and inclusiveness. In addition to helping bring bike lanes, I have worked with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition in their efforts to provide affordable/free services to increase awareness and education, such programs include Operation Firefly.