2017 L.A. Streetsies: Vote for Civil Servant of the Year
Today, SBLA opens the votes for civil servant Streetsie for 2017. This award goes to folks that do the day-to-day work for municipalities and transportation agencies. Staff can sometimes get overlooked in the heat of politics, so it is critical to acknowledge the civil servants who play huge roles in making cities more livable. This year’s nominees are less about specific individuals and more about teams.
Voting starts today and will close on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, at noon. Reader voting accounts for one half of the scoring this year. The other half will be divided evenly between SBLA staff and the SBLA steering committee.
California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research – One of what will be the most far-reaching stories of 2017 was California finally adopting a way of measuring the actual environmental impact of automobile traffic. Unfortunately, it is also one of the wonkiest and most jargon-laden stories of the year. It sounds like alphabet soup to say that CA OPR mandated that VMT replace LOS. There is not space to explain just how pernicious a practice this used to be, how much resistance there has been to the new metric, and how dramatically this will change what will get built in the years ahead. Suffice it to say that it is huge, and that the team at the Office of Planning and Research deserves credit for achieving something really important.
Metro Open Streets – Though it receives only $2 million annually – a proverbial drop in the bucket in Metro’s $6.1 billion budget – the Metro Open Streets Grant Program has been responsible for spreading car-free open streets events to communities throughout L.A. County. Prior to Metro’s program open streets meant a couple CicLAvias each year in central Los Angeles. With Metro support, there were four in 2015, six in 2016, and eight in 2017, with nine planned in 2018. Metro has supported evaluation processes that show these events increase Metro ridership and support local businesses. Metro open streets have promoted collaboration between jurisdictions, community groups, businesses, and others. Now if Metro could just inventory the number of smiles that they have brought to participants’ faces…
Metro Parking – Metro’s portfolio of more than 20,000 park-and-ride parking spaces continues to grow. Just a couple of years ago, the system had been predominantly free and plagued by plenty of “poachers” who parked without even riding Metro. With leadership from the board and administration, Metro’s parking team has changed things for the better. In 2017, Metro’s program instituted validation to ensure people who park are people who actually ride transit, and began charging at stations where parking is in high demand. These great changes support equity, the environment, and Metro’s bottom line while setting the stage for creating great places at stations. Metro’s proposed new parking plan is facing minor challenges, so it is important that all the folks leading their great parking reform work are acknowledged. At the helm are Frank Ching and Cal Hollis, but kudos to other Metro staff involved in rolling out changes, managing, maintaining, and planning for parking.
#WeSaidEnough – On October 17th, a bipartisan open letter with over 140 signatories marked the first open call for an end to the pervasive culture of sexual harassment and assault that both harmed California’s female lobbyists, legislative employees, publicists, and others in Sacramento and shielded their abusers from reproach. The letter was published just two days after the #MeToo floodgates had been opened, but the move was still a brave one. Many of those speaking up feared for their jobs or the slamming of doors that would make it impossible for them to do their jobs. Their fears were not unfounded – one of the letter’s co-authors who had also made a complaint to her employer alleges her firing (coming eight days after the letter published) was retaliatory. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, chair of the Assembly Rules Subcommittee on Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation Prevention and Response, led the November hearing aimed at reviewing the Assembly’s approach to the problem, noting it was only the beginning of a “serious and comprehensive” effort to change the status quo. To that end, she is advocating for a confidential hotline to be set up and for complaints to be tracked. Adama Iwu, senior director for state and local government relations at Visa and co-founder of #WeSaidEnough, was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the Silence Breakers of the year. Their leadership on this issue will make it easier for women to influence and participate in the decision-making processes that shape the form and future of California’s communities.
Honorable Mentions: Superior Court Judge Daniel Lopez worked with BikeSGV to create an innovative traffic school for bicyclists.
Past Winners: Phil Washington, Dale Benson, John Jones III, Paul Backstrom, Jaime De La Vega, and Rye Baerg