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Smarter Land Use Planning: Building out affordable housing and creating mixed-use, walkable, bikeable, diverse urban neighborhoods and business districts
There are few activities more enjoyable than walking around a truly great neighborhood. And great neighborhoods are well-planned neighborhoods.
I’m committed to leading our communities in the process of updating our long-ignored community plans, so that we can decide together where to put much-needed affordable and workforce housing and other development in Council District 5. Council District 5 has the largest jobs centers outside of the downtown core, such as in Century City, Westwood/UCLA, and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, but most of the people who work in Council District 5 can’t afford to live anywhere near where they work. With the Metro coming through the district for the first time in nearly 60 years, we have an incredible opportunity to locate housing at all income levels, but in particular, affordable and workforce housing, near our jobs centers and transit hubs, while leaving single-family neighborhoods untouched. By creating opportunities for working people to live closer to where they work, we can create vibrant, diverse, and more equitable communities in Council District 5.
This also promotes the important work of getting Angelenos out of their cars and will decrease the Westside’s notorious traffic. As a former land use attorney, I know how to do this crucial work, and I’m committed to leading a robust community engagement process. Smarter land use planning is the single most effective way to reduce our GHG impacts as a city while also creating healthy, vibrant communities.
Accelerate the Build-Out of a World-Class Mass Transit System + a Connected, Protected Bike Network
I will ask the City Council President to appoint me to Metro’s Board. As a seasoned policymaker, I understand just how critical it is to have an expert on infrastructure, the environment, and sustainability on the board of the largest transportation agency in the nation.
I’m committed to making it easier and more enjoyable for people to leave their cars at home and instead walk, bike, and take public transportation. We will do this by accelerating the build-out of our transportation infrastructure, investing in a mass transit system that is affordable and efficient, and ensuring our transit system is safe to ride. By leveraging federal dollars, we can complete and expand Metro ahead of schedule.
Also, by thoughtfully but quickly building out a connected network of protected bicycle lanes that safely get people where they need to go, we can make it actually safe and pleasant for people to ditch their cars and embrace what will become one of the world’s great bike cities. I believe that LA can be a fabulous, safe place to bicycle – it’s mostly flat, it’s mostly sunny, and most destinations aren’t far from each other. We can also be a great walking city! By repairing sidewalks, investing in and maintaining a healthy street tree canopy, and making our intersections safer for pedestrians, we’ll encourage people to walk more. In short, if we build it, they will come.
Additionally, I will prioritize investments in Metro’s First/Last Mile improvements (i.e., the distance between a Metro station and a transit user’s final destination). We should also provide incentives for micro-mobility; I will advocate for LADWP to create a rebate program for ebikes and scooters and will work hard to make sure the program is efficient and well-funded. I am a big supporter of the State of California’s recent decision to create a $10 million ebike and scooter rebate program to be run by the California Air Resources Board and will work with colleagues in the State Legislature to make sure that program is well-publicized locally and adequately funded. And, with a network of protected bicycle lanes, we can ensure these devices are not ridden on our sidewalks creating a nuisance.
For those folks who will continue to use their cars, we need to accelerate and coordinate across jurisdictions the build out of our EV charging infrastructure. The City has a plan for siting EV charging infrastructure, but should be working more closely with L.A. County’s Sustainability Office and others to create a regional EV infrastructure plan. Special focus must be on prioritizing this infrastructure (and rebates for electric vehicles and bikes) in less affluent neighborhoods, with a particular focus on multi-family housing. We should also accelerate the electrification of our municipal fleets and buses via our seats on Metro.
Make LA Drought-Proof by Investing in Local Water Supplies
Drought is back in the news, as is the requirement that we cut back on water usage. Unfortunately, this is the new normal, and I’m going to make sure we’re ready. I will work to continue transitioning our water supply to local sources by investing more in water recycling, stormwater capture, and remediation of our groundwater. We spend a lot of money and energy to clean wastewater and then every day we throw millions of gallons of that clean water away in the ocean. With just a little more effort, this water can instead be sent to drinking water filtration plants or stored in groundwater basins and reused. We also let millions of gallons of stormwater flow into the sea. We should be capturing and reusing this water too. These are two simple ways that we can make our water infrastructure more resilient in the face of a warming planet. As the architect of 2018’s Safe, Clean Water Program (adopted by County voters as Measure W), I know how to leverage much-needed funds to bring resources to Council District 5 and the City of LA more broadly.
Accelerate the transition to 100% Clean Energy + Electrify Where We Can
LADWP recently completed their plan for achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035 and I fully support this goal and will work to identify opportunities to accelerate it. We can and must get fossil fuels out of our electrical energy system while ensuring that electricity continues to be affordable and reliable, and that workers who are currently employed at those power plants have jobs in a clean energy economy that are at least as good as the ones they have now.
Los Angeles should also be the solar capital of the world: we have more than 300 days of sunshine each year, and lots of roofs. I’m committed to partnering with LADWP, our nation’s largest municipal utility, to create the right incentives so it’s easier, quicker, and more cost-effective for Angelenos to put solar on all our rooftops, on our parking lots, and everywhere else we can. We will make this transition to clean energy while also creating thousands of good-paying union jobs.
At the same time, we have an opportunity and obligation to upgrade our power grid and infrastructure and infuse resilience into the system through microgrids, battery storage, and community-scale infrastructure investments so that when usage is high, our power stays on. As we electrify transportation and other parts of our economy, it is critical that our transmission and distribution system is fully modernized. This is more than a quality of life issue – it’s also a public health imperative.
Getting fossil fuels out of harder-to-electrify sectors like heavy-duty trucking, manufacturing, ships and aircraft, and existing residential and commercial buildings will be a challenge, but it will also be necessary if we are to protect our communities from dirty air pollution and a changing climate. I will work with manufacturers to ensure that all city fleet vehicles, including heavy-duty vehicles, are electric or other zero-emission technology as soon as possible. We will also partner with electric vehicle manufacturers and unions to bring production of these vehicles to LA to help create good green jobs.
Phase out oil drilling in the City of Los Angeles
Council District 5 has more active oil wells than any other council district in Los Angeles, and I’m determined to adopt and implement a phase-out strategy that includes at the table the workers who will necessarily be required to transition into new jobs. This doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, and I’m committed to making sure everyone impacted by the phasing out of oil and gas drilling has new jobs waiting for them that are at least as good as the ones they have now. The cost to human health – both human health in proximity to the drill sites and the long-term trajectory of risk to human life from climate catastrophe – means there’s just no long-term future for oil drilling in our City. I am a staunch advocate of shutting them down, making sure they’re capped and remediated and will be a vigilant watchdog on fulfilling only the minimum legal timeline required to keep them operational. In the meantime, I will partner with State agencies to require annual inspections at all wells to ensure public health and safety while wells continue to operate.
More Parks, Open Space, and Shade
We all recognize the many benefits parks and green spaces provide: from mental and physical health benefits, to fostering community, to increasing property values, well-maintained parks greatly improve the quality of our day-to-day lives. I’m committed to creating healthier communities by creating more parks, parkways, greenspaces, and tree canopy. I will champion the creation of a neighborhood park master plan where we identify all the neighborhoods in Los Angeles that aren’t currently within a 10-minute walk of a park, including many portions of Council District 5. We’ll then strategically buy properties and build new neighborhood pocket parks, and partner with schools and groups like Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to green and make accessible school sites when schools aren’t in session, so everyone lives within walking distance of a park or open space. Hundreds of millions of dollars are available every year from Measure W for this express purpose, and I will leverage my experience as the architect of Measure W to bring significant resources to Council District 5.
Trees are green infrastructure. We know that trees naturally clean the air, provide important shade and cooling, help absorb stormwater, and provide valuable habitat for birds and other species. The cooling benefits alone can mean the difference between life and death – especially in neighborhoods where air conditioning isn’t ubiquitous. So, it is critical that we invest in planting and maintaining a healthy urban forest to support our communities, and this means ensuring adequate tree canopies not just in parks, but also along streets and in medians as well.
Protect the Santa Monica Mountains
The iconic and much beloved Santa Monica Mountains are a treasure and it’s on our elected leaders to use the tools available to protect them because once they’re gone, there’s no getting that open space back. I will strategically deploy local dollars, leveraged against County, State, and Federal money to buy additional land for conservation. I’ll work with residents and groups like Tree People, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Save our Canyon, and the City’s Community Forest Advisory Committee to make sure we’re adopting and enforcing policies that preserve the low-density character of the mountains, protect trees and habitat, and reduce wildfire risk. I stand strongly against both the proposed hotel project in Benedict Canyon and the proposed Berggruen Institute. Limiting the mountains to low-density residential uses is critical.
Creating Climate Resilient Communities
Everything I’ve said here will help both reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help make our communities healthier and safer. But we also need to recognize that climate change is already here, and it will unfortunately get worse before it gets better. So, we need to ensure that our communities are ready. We need to cool our neighborhoods by removing asphalt where we can, installing cool street technologies, and providing trees and other shade structures, especially at transit stops. We also need places where people can go when there is a heat storm and transportation to get there for those who don’t have it. We need to design programs to support the most vulnerable among us, including older adults, people with disabilities, people with underlying health conditions, and children.
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Paid for by Katy Young Yaroslavsky For City Council 2022
777 S. Figueroa Street, Ste. 4050, Los Angeles, CA 90017. FPPC ID: 1431870
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Photos: Header, Lawrence Schiller - Family, Cliff Kramer/Dream Pix Fine Art Photography.