Congratulations to All the 2017 Streetsie Award Winners!
The moment of truth! The full 2017 Streetsie winners are here!
SBLA editors were again frustrated by large amounts of robo-votes in numerous categories, and in one case, the deliberate engineering of votes. The struggle to guard against vote manipulation likely signals the end of online polling for future SBLA Streetsie Awards. SBLA staff deleted clear robo-votes in order to arrive at more representative tallies. The popular votes were then combined with SBLA staff and board preferences to select the ultimate winner.
First off, kudos to all the nominees. So many individuals, organizations, agencies, and coalitions are doing very important work to make L.A. healthier, more equitable, and more livable. Brief descriptions accompany each award, below. Click through to the category for longer descriptions.
2017 Deborah Murphy Award for Excellence in Advocacy: Javier “JP” Partida and Art Ramírez
Art “The Skrapfather” Ramírez and JP Partida of the Los Ryderz Bike Club won for the effort they put into building elotero Benjamín Ramírez a dope vendor cart to replace the one damaged by Carlos Haka. It was one of many ways in which they have worked to both make the streets more hospitable to lower-income folks of color while also setting an example for at-risk youth of the club about the importance of working to make a difference in the community. When someone decided to mess with the voting to skew it against them and some of the other nominees, it was heartwarming to see the community they’ve slowly built over the years rally on social media to reassure them that their commitment to community was a source of inspiration that reverberated far beyond Watts.
2017 Livable Streets Advocacy Coalition Award: The UNIDAD Coalition and the People’s Plan
As noted before, normally, we look to individual groups who made a difference over the course of the past year. But in 2017, it was hard to ignore the power of those that banded together to move the needle on what cities could aspire to be. UNIDAD‘s creation of a People’s Plan and the successful incorporation of many of its key tenets into the South L.A. Community Plans were the result of ten long years and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of organizing and engaging neighbors and planners around South L.A.’s needs and aspirations. The shared commitment to “better neighborhoods with the same neighbors” meant having to create consensus around policies that could be deployed to help development uplift the community. Given the extent to which so many residents struggle to retain a foothold in the community and the wide variation in their needs, that alone is a difficult path to walk – many residents fear that development of any sort could mark the beginning of the end for the area as they know it. But the coalition persevered, building important channels of communication among and between residents and planners, and finally seeing 75 percent of their recommendations incorporated into the finalized community plans. Their work offers a powerful model for others to draw from.
2017 Journalist/Writer of the Year Award: Lisa Schweitzer
USC Urban Planning professor Lisa Schweitzer, writing at her blog, has been a great hellraiser, helping to create space for more probing, thoughtful critiques around topics around which consensus is too often assumed. She’s not afraid to take on loud and insistent voices (see The Smartest Boy Urbanist in the Room, for example), make a wonky aspect of a policy that she sees as important accessible to the masses, or use her biting wit to jolt people out of their boxes. Her blog also humanizes planning and the folks being planned for – something that is rarer than you might think in a profession that is primarily about planning spaces, communities, and connections for human people. So, even though she doth protesteth her nomination, rightly arguing she is not a journalist, per se, she is someone whose work helps to push the boundaries on how we – journalists included – should think about planning. And that is to be celebrated.
2017 Civil Servant of the Year Award: California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR).
In 2017, the little-known CA OPR shepherded the state’s adoption of a new, more accurate way of measuring the actual environmental impact of automobile traffic. This is one of the wonkiest and most jargon-laden stories of the year: The CA OPR mandated that VMT replace LOS. Level of Service has been a major obstacle to improving California livability, walkability, sustainability, affordability, and equity. The team at the Office of Planning and Research deserves credit for achieving a hugely important shift that lays the groundwork for a healthier future.
Note that Metro’s Parking and Open Streets programs did slightly better than CA OPR in the online poll. Those key Metro programs are continuing to do excellent work that deserves recognition, but ultimately SBLA’s Steering Committee and staff overrode the popular vote, asserting that OPR’s 2017 retooling of the state’s travel impact metrics will have the furthest-reaching impacts for Angelenos, Californians, and likely setting an example nationally and globally.
2017 Elected Official of the Year Award: State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago.
Santiago is great on several fronts, but the award primarily recognizes his work passing legislation that fixed a state law prohibiting pedestrians from entering crosswalks during a flashing countdown signal. Santiago’s A.B. 390 smartly legalizes reasonable pedestrian behavior, encourages walking, and ends unfair LAPD pedestrian stings.
SBLA appreciates the hard work nominees are doing to make Southern California communities healthier, safer, happier, and more livable. Keep up the important work and we look forward to covering all your great accomplishments in the years ahead!