1. Metro bus ridership has dropped 25% over the last 10 years, as Metro has largely failed to provide quality and frequent bus service to transit-dependent communities including those in South and Central Los Angeles. It is clear that a wide network of frequent, reliable bus service utilizing bus-only lanes is a critical solution for low-income residents who depend on transit. If elected as supervisor, would you use your position on the Metro Board to support bus rapid transit projects prescribed by Measure M, and work with cities to aggressively implement bus-only lanes?
Quality, clean, and reliable transportation is the responsibility of our government to provide to residents. I support adding dedicated bus lanes and ensuring that there are enough buses so that residents can get to work on time. What I believe is the core reason that people aren’t riding public transportation is because of cleanliness, safety, and reliability. During my tenure as a Board of Supervisor, I will address all of these issues and provide out of the box solutions. I will introduce innovative ideas but also open the door for difficult discussions. I plan to improve our bus usage by providing membership options that will encourage all financial “classes” of individuals to ride public transportation and create a new experience.
2. The lack of safe infrastructure in the Second District means that people on foot and on bicycles are especially vulnerable to being killed or injured while moving around their communities, including the late Frederick “Woon” Frazier, who was killed by a hit and run driver in South L.A. What would you do as a Supervisor to prioritize safe mobility for low-income residents and students who depend on active transportation options?
First I’ll conduct a field survey on the best and most achievable places to include bike lanes. Las Vegas has had a hit and run problem for a long time and they’ve recently put large metal polls separating the street from the sidewalk. Vehicles will not be able to cross these polls. A similar structure in Los Angeles to protect cyclist would be a huge improvement at dangerous intersections. These poles exist in places like downtown, but we can further expand this in other areas. The implementation of 4 way stops will help decrease the amount of accidents. Some high pedestrian streets in Beverly Hills already have established a 4 way street stop light. This would enable a safe time for bikers and pedestrians to cross intersections all at once. In addition, I would like to construct mini roundabouts within neighborhoods instead of so many 2-way stop signs blocking major streets. The installation of mini roundabouts will provide better traffic flow and decrease vehicular speeds. A good example of this is the roundabout in Culver City near the Culver City stairs.
3. This past summer Metro incorporated Equity Focused Communities into its Equity Platform to prioritize the needs of low-income residents and households with low vehicle ownership. On the Metro Board, would you put meaningful financial resources behind the Metro Equity Platform and fund projects that improve mobility, access, and safety of these communities?
Yes definitely, I would put meaningful financial resources behind the Metro Equity Platform and fund projects that improve mobility. I would ensure that those tasked with the implementation of the Metro framework are qualified to do this work, and request that they communicate down to a granular level, a clear strategy for their implementation plan. I would also encourage public comments so the communities in which we seek to serve can participate in the process. This makes them feel included so they can fully utilize the system once it’s built. A good benchmark will help us measure success and access valuable data. I’d definitely incorporate a revolutionized public transportation system. As I believe it’s important for people to feel that they are getting 5 star service and will be confident in it’s offering. In cities like New York or San Francisco, a significant amount of people use public transportation. In a city like Los Angeles it can be frowned upon due to the perception of a “lifestyle”, so I would like for our local government to assist in changing that mindset, and encourage people to use public transportation; emphasizing the benefits to our environment, overall traffic and quality of life.
4. Gentrification is a major issue facing many communities across the District, especially where new transit investments are being made, such as along the Crenshaw Line. Metro’s power relative to individual cities lies with Metro’s power over funding. As a Metro director, how would you use funding incentives and existing programs (e.g. the Business Interruption Fund, Joint Development program, and Transit Oriented Communities program) to encourage cities to protect existing tenants and produce affordable housing, particularly near new transit investments?
I think it’s important to be cognizant of the effects of construction around brick and mortar businesses near or in new construction areas. My proposal is that small businesses receive a stipend during the construction phase so their businesses are not in jeopardy of closing or at a significant loss. As it pertains to people who may suffer a spike in rent increase due to gentrification and improvement efforts, we need to establish a cushion of protection on a certain timeline. If these individuals have lived in the area for a notable amount of time, have paid taxes and have likely been contributing citizens, then that is worth recognizing. Positive reinforcement can develop a sense of pride and ownership. On many panels, I have also proposed an outside the box thought surrounding affordable housing. I think that our affordable housing system should be segmented by types of profession not only income level. That way we can have a balanced ecosystem within all of our communities, which would circulate back to assisting us in lowering commute times and contribute to having an efficient transportation system.
Regarding gentrification, I think the process of investing financial resources into low-income communities needs to be more inclusive. The opportunity for people that live within communities to invest as a group into projects in their area should be provided. They should have an opportunity to contribute first hand as this would come from a more inclusive policy before tax incentives are provided to investors that live outside of the neighborhood.
5. Far too many Angelenos face barriers in their access to public space including on public transit. For example, many Metro riders—but especially women—face high levels of harassment from other system users. At the same time, teens and young men of color are too frequently the victims of police brutality for simply existing in public spaces. In 2017 and fed by the false narrative that more policing provides more safety for riders, Metro directors approved a 5-year, nearly $1 billion security contract which has expanded the presence of armed police on trains and buses. What will you do to address the issue of harassment on Metro services and what would you do to build a relationship of trust between communities of color and law enforcement?
The relationship between the police and low-income communities needs to improve. I’ve proposed a fun holiday, “Say Hi to a Cop Day”, to lighten the mood. Because police are people just like anyone that lives in any community – we need to remember humanity first in our decisions. And as silly as it may sound, “Say Hi to a Cop Day” is an ice breaker. We need creative ways to foster relationships between communities and law enforcement. This is Los Angeles and the media can be a powerful medium; therefore I would also consider showcasing true stories of real life officers that have made a positive impact on people or organizations. Allowing people to see stories about cops volunteering or even a day in their life and the level of stress they may endure, can provide a different perspective. I would recommend that Police officers serve where they live, and volunteer if possible, so people can see beyond the uniform. What’s extremely important in cultivating relationships between law enforcement and communities is a system of transparency, accountability, and checks and balances.
As an avid reader and a psychology scholar, I’d look at multiple avenues to help riders and drivers feel safe. It’s possible to also partner with behavioral scientists. In order to influence human behavior, one approach is to clean up and improve the environment. Our efforts can be put towards reducing the amount of graffiti, cleaning dirty train cars, and replacing seats with pen scratched words. Then making sure that custodial staff and security can help maintain the integrity and upkeep of our public transportation systems. I would also propose that custodial workers are fairly compensated for the work they do, because most people do not want to clean up the mess of others. There have been studies on how street cleaning can lower crime rates. Soothing departure melodies inside or outside our public transits, could help reduce the stress level of riders. It’s easy to put money on what looks to be obvious, but I think 1 billion dollars is better served in the long-term preservation of public resources. As supervisor, I would really take a look at outside the box solutions and a better reallocation of these funds.
6. Metro CEO Phil Washington has called for congestion pricing to fund free transit in the Los Angeles region. A) What are your thoughts on Congestion Pricing and would you seek to expand Metro’s ExpressLanes program? B) Do you support making transit in Los Angeles County free?
In my opinion, before congestion pricing is established, the public transportation system needs to be clean and adequately serve the public. It is the responsibility of our local government to ensure that public resources are desirable. If that responsibility is not met by our local government then it is wrong to establish fees on people to drive. I understand the potentially positive environmental considerations of reduced traffic which is definitely huge and one of the outcomes we aim to achieve. I would like to establish in our local government more balance of interests when it comes to making decisions on behalf of the public. We need to inquire from the public to know what is desirable to them. Before we begin to access charges on people – we need to meet people in the middle and make sure that their interests are served since these policies or programs will affect their day-to-day. Regarding congestion pricing, if people are happy to spend money to drive then great, because now we can put resources into making public transportation free. Some people can afford luxuries and some people can only afford the necessities. If the people that can afford luxuries are happy to pay to drive, it will reduce expenses for people to ride public transportation. Nonetheless, being objective, considering the cause/ effect and pros/cons is the best approach.