Posted by Robert Baird, Food Systems & Land Use Policy Analyst on May 28th, 2015
The growing role of corner stores in creating healthy food access was recognized by the LA City Council on March 27, when it updated its Consolidated Plan for federal grant expenditures to include a new funding source of $250,000 for the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network. The program, which is coordinated by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, organizes local store owners in food desert communities to capitalize on investment resources for offering healthier food selections and to sustain benefits from corner store conversions for the long-term. The work of the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network evolved from initial efforts by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to transform corner stores into access points for quality produce and staple foods and, despite lacking the financing capabilities of the now-dissolved CRA, has guided market conversions in multiple neighborhoods, including Alba Snacks & Services in South Los Angeles. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Consolidated Plan will empower the program to maintain and scale the outreach efforts, business training, finance referrals and technical assistance services it provides to current and potential healthy market owners. The modest budget amount also represents a launching point for growing funding commitments by City agencies to address nutrition resource needs of underserved communities, which have languished following the dissolution of the CRA in 2012. Corner markets comprise 60% or more of the food retail landscape in many parts of South LA and East LA, and are the only grocery shopping option for many people who lack reliable car transportation. Community Health Councils, Community Coalition and Groceryships were among the organizations that supported the program’s funding in the adopted plan.
For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Robert Baird at email@example.com.
Posted by Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on May 27th, 2015
After nearly four years of planning, research and public engagement, the Department of City Planning (DCP) will present the most revised draft of Mobility Plan 2035, the City of Los Angeles update to the General Plan Transportation Element, to the City Planning Commission (CPC) on May 28 at Van Nuys City Hall. This document sets a framework for the future of transportation planning and policy in Los Angeles and impacts agency priorities and direction for the next 20 years. Mobility Plan 2035 does an excellent job of prioritizing a multi-modal landscape that emphasizes safety over vehicle speed and is a welcome change from previous car-centric transportation policies. Los Angeles is increasingly embracing active and low-emission transportation alternatives.
For more information on Mobility Plan 2035 visit la2b.org
Posted by Anulkah Thomas, Health Coverage Policy Analyst on May 26th, 2015
To date more than 100,000 Los Angeles county residents have enrolled in My Health LA (MHLA), a county program that provides health care to the remaining uninsured not eligible for other health coverage like Medi-Cal or Covered California. Based on their April 8, 2015 report to the County Board of Supervisors’ health deputies, the Department of Health Services (DHS) expects enrollment to reach between 130,000 and 136,000 by the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2015).
The full letter is available here. A group of LAHealth4All advocates met with DHS staff who indicated that they are exploring ways to improve the program.
For insight on how the program is working for some participants, read or listen to this recent KPCC news story. For more information on MHLA, please see the My Health LA website or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on May 25th, 2015
A corridor with both great historical significance and current relevance that connects Little Tokyo near Downtown Los Angeles through South Los Angeles, Watts and Willowbrook with the city of Carson, Central Avenue is scheduled to see the first of its Great Street treatments later this year. The street boasts many historical landmarks and monuments that harken back to the early- and mid-20th century when Central Avenue in South Los Angeles was known as the city’s paramount jazz epicenter and heart of the Los Angeles black community, including the Dunbar Hotel, Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building and the now-closed Lincoln Theater. Today, the backbone of Historic South Central remains a bustling, thriving corridor with many local businesses, schools, residents and the home of the annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival.
Posted by Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on May 23rd, 2015
When Los Angeles voters approved Measure R in 2008, a half-cent sales tax expected to generate $40B in funding over 30 years, they kicked off an historic rail expansion that is transforming Los Angeles. Today, there are five light rail projects currently under construction (Crenshaw/LAX, Expo Line Extension, Purple Line Extension, Gold Line Extension and the Regional Connector in Little Tokyo. Other projects expected to be funded by Measure R returns include the Green Line expansion, the I-405 Corridor transit project, as well as highway improvements.
In gearing up for an exciting election year in 2016, preliminary conversations have started around another voter-approved sales tax for the ballot next year. Experts, decision makers, advocates and elected officials came together to discuss the potential ballot measure, dubbed “Measure R2” during this pre-ballot period, for the 7th annual Transportation Conversation sponsored by MoveLA on Earth Day April 22 at Union Station. Panelists from across the County representing a variety of communities and interest groups spoke about their own priorities as well as the region’s best interests to a crowd of approximately 600 attendees. Mayor Garcetti and former Mayor Villaraigosa were both highlighted speakers. Topics including safety, sustainability, health, equity, goods movement, disabled access, rideshare, greenhouse gas emissions, affordable housing, driverless vehicles, and economic development all bolstered a recurring theme of what the “new” Los Angeles would look like.
The ballot measure has not yet been approved by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“Metro”) but a draft expenditure plan is expected to be released this June. In 2008 Measure R was placed on the ballot and passed in a relatively quick span of time, with minimal discussion or debate from the public and various stakeholders and no allocations made to active transportation. Now in 2015 a pending ballot measure has become a catalyst for differing and sometimes competing interests in how Los Angeles could—and should—look in the next 30 years. Transportation systems impact every one of us in every aspect of our lives, including housing, food, jobs, education, services and the economy. As Election Day 2016 gets closer, historically overlooked communities such as South Los Angeles will have a greater chance to input on what the Los Angeles of the future will look like and who it will serve.
Posted by Anulkah Thomas, Health Coverage Policy Analyst on May 22nd, 2015
To date First 5 LA, with funds from Prop 10, has invested over $1 billion to support the healthy development of children from the womb through age 5. Recently they released a new strategic plan that shifts funding priorities to policy and systems change efforts. As a result many programs will no longer receive First 5 LA funding and potentially close, such as Healthy Kids. Healthy Kids provides comprehensive health insurance through LA Care to children ages 0 to 5, with family incomes up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), regardless of their immigration status, and who do not qualify other health coverage.
New enrollments will be accepted through September 30, 2015. For more information, or to enroll in Healthy Kids coverage for 2015, families can contact LA Care directly at 1-888-452-2273 or get assistance through a contracted community organization. These agencies can also provide information on other coverage options including Kaiser CHP and MHLA.
For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at email@example.com
Posted by Heather Davis, Open Space Policy Analyst on May 20th, 2015
In response to the failure of Proposition P to gain favor with Los Angeles County voters last November, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted and approved a much needed $3.5 million county wide park needs assessment. This assessment, the first of its kind, will produce a detailed study that will center on a community-driven outreach process, with residents and stakeholders throughout the County invited to share input on the future of parks and open space.
Posted by Ine Collins, Healthcare Systems Policy Analyst on May 13th, 2015
After eight years since the Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in South Los Angeles closed due to quality of care issues, the new MLK Community Hospital is finally opening on Thursday May 14, 2015. Prior to opening the hospital's inpatient services, the MLK campus has gradually opened an outpatient center and maintained preventative and community-based services throughout the years. The hospital will be undergoing a phased opening while completing its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Joint Commission certification process. There will be six labor and delivery beds, eight ob/gyn beds, 20 med surg beds, and 10 Intensive Care Unit beds for the first phase of the opening. Every 60 days the hospital will open 20% more beds until November 2015 at which point they will be fully opened. The new hospital is smaller than the original hospital that once had 450 general acute care beds compared to the new hospital with a total of 131 beds. The emergency department is set to open in July, though there are no plans for it to include a trauma center which has been a point of contention for local residents and health advocates. However, DHS completed an analysis about what it would require to develop a trauma center at MLK in the event that the trauma center at St. Francis Medical Center, the only trauma center in South Los Angeles, closed due to its impending sale. Though the hospital has no plans for a trauma center, cardiac catheterization lab, or neonatal intensive care unit, the re-opening marks an important step forward in addressing the astounding shortage of healthcare resources in South Los Angeles, a historically under-resourced and disadvantaged community.
Posted by Anulkah Thomas, Health Coverage Policy Analyst on February 25th, 2015
President Obama’s November 2014 executive order on immigration could have a profound impact on many Angelenos’ immigration status and ability to access health coverage. While federal dollars can only be used to cover restricted Medicaid coverage for undocumented immigrants--such as for emergencies and pregnancy--California opts to use state funds to provide full-scope benefits to people the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services know are present but are not moving to deport – also known as persons Permanently Residing Under the Color of Law (PRUCOL).
Starting in May 2015, undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents that have resided in the U.S. for the last five years can submit applications for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and will thus fall in the PRUCOL category. According to estimates released by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), about a third of the 979,000 unauthorized immigrants residing in Los Angeles County have citizen or LPR children. While it is unknown how many DAPA eligible parents will ultimately obtain deferred action status and enroll in Medi-Cal, it is clear that the potential gains in coverage for this population could be substantial as those with incomes up to and including 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) will be eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits. However, health advocates are concerned that the cost of covering an expanded PRUCOL population was not included in Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 budget proposal released in January. CHC will monitor state budget negotiations and advocate to ensure that all of California’s residents get the health benefits for which they qualify.
Posted by Robert Baird, Food Systems & Land Use Policy Analyst on February 24th, 2015
The owners of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza have submitted preliminary details to the City Planning Department for a large-scale redevelopment that would replace the site’s surface parking and peripheral commercial buildings with 2 million square feet of new building space. The plan includes an outdoor retail village containing shops, restaurants and a bowling alley near the Crenshaw/Stocker intersection. A 14-story office tower is proposed near the Crenshaw/39th Street intersection and a 12-story, 400-room hotel is proposed near the Stocker/Santa Rosalia intersection. The plan’s housing component includes a 7-story complex adjacent to the Macy’s structure north of MLK Boulevard and another 5-story complex located near the Marlton/Santa Rosalia intersection, totaling 961 apartment and condominium units. The existing grocery space occupied by Albertsons would be replaced with a new, potentially larger space at the Marlton/MLK Boulevard intersection, though it’s unclear if Albertsons will remain as the operator following the redevelopment. Although new structures will replace much of the site’s existing parking, proposed parking facilities internal to the site will account for 7,000 spaces. Portals to the MLK subway station would be incorporated into the site once the Metro Crenshaw line opens in 2019.
Posted by Erin Steva, Brownfields Policy Analyst on February 23rd, 2015
The land of sunshine, celebrities, and world-famous beaches is also home to 5,000 active oil and gas wells. These wells are spread across 10 oil fields and 70 different sites embedded in neighborhoods, parks, and commercial districts throughout the City of Los Angeles. Although oil drilling occurs in diverse neighborhoods ranging from affluent Cheviot Hills to pollution-burdened Wilmington, in a new issue brief, Community Health Councils found low-income communities of color in the City have fewer protections from the risks from local oil drilling operations than more affluent, whiter neighborhoods.
In recent years, oil drilling operations in South Los Angeles and Wilmington have received 53 more regulatory violations than oil production in wealthier communities with half of those violations coming from the notoriously dangerous operations by AllenCo in the University Park neighborhood. All in all, the data tells us past city decisions have failed to protect low-income communities in LA from the risks of oil drilling.
What does this mean for residents living near oil production? Residents have been unable to sleep at night due to noise, lights have flooded into neighboring windows, dust and other airborne particles have made breathing difficult, and the handling of tanker trucks of chemicals has raised concerns about threats to public health. With hundreds of thousands of people living near oil drilling facilities that are inadequately regulated, especially in low-income communities of color, the City of Los Angeles has an imperative to swiftly implement citywide standards fully protective of human health and we recommend the LA City Council use their land use authority to address the issue. Allowing oil production without protecting impacted communities is indefensible.
For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Erin Steva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Anulkah Thomas, Health Coverage Policy Analyst on February 20th, 2015
With less than six months of operation, the My Health L.A. (MHLA) program has already surpassed half of the enrollment target of 146,000. MHLA is a program for low-income Los Angeles county residents who do not qualify for any other source of affordable healthcare because of their immigration status. According to the most recent Department of Health Services (DHS) demographic report, the program enrolled 68,390 members by December 31, 2014. At the January 26, 2015 LA Access to Health Coverage Coalition meeting, Program Director Amy Luftig-Viste reported that enrollment had increased even further to about 75,000. Given that DHS estimates there are some 400,000 people in Los Angeles county that may qualify for the program (and the Migration Policy Institute’s estimates go even higher), CHC and the LAHealth4All Coalition will continue to push for increased funding in order to expand capacity and raise reimbursement rates.
The MHLA provider network has added four additional clinics after a second solicitation for proposals was released: Clinica Oscar Romero, South Central Family Health Center, Center for Family Health and Education, and AIDS Project Los Angeles. This brings the total to 54 community clinic partners representing over 160 sites throughout the county. In the coming months DHS will move forward with a new reimbursement model in which providers are issued a monthly payment for each enrolled participant rather than a payment for each service or visit. Implementation of this payment arrangement was delayed in order to give clinics time to build up their MHLA enrollment so that the implementation of the model would be fiscally feasible for the clinics. DHS is also working to make prescriptions accessible to members at retail pharmacies, rather than the clinic dispensaries and pharmacies most currently use.
Posted by Heather Davis, Open Space Policy Analyst on February 19th, 2015
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved a $3.5M study to identify County park and open space needs.
The study follows the failure of Proposition P last November, which would have assessed a $23-per-parcel flat tax--which would have generated an estimated $54 million annually--on County residents for 30 years.
Opponents of Proposition P argued that it was hastily brought to the attention of the Board in response to the imminent expiration of Proposition A, a parks tax assessment passed by the voters in 1992. The flat tax proposed by Proposition P was arguably more regressive than Proposition A, which only levied a tax on an assessed property value.
There was no assessment study completed for Proposition P, which not only weakened the argument in favor of the tax, but also could have resulted in the measure failing to generate sufficient revenue to meet County park and open space needs. Dissenters on the Board also felt that the 10% allocation for park poor communities was too low.
Though it will be time and resource intensive, Board members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Michael D. Antonovich want the study to not only “identify geographic areas with the highest need for parks and open space,” but also “identify, prioritize and outline costs for specific park and/or open space projects" ideally in time for a ballot measure in 2016. CHC supports the Board of Supervisor’s approval of the new study, and will work to make sure that the voice of the community is heard and accounted for in the process.
For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Heather Davis at email@example.com.
Posted by Hector Gutierrez, Food Systems & Urban Agriculture Policy Analyst on February 18th, 2015
On Wednesday, February 4th the Public Works and Gang Reduction committee was supposed to hear draft ordinance language to allow the growing of edible plants on public parkways. Parkways are the area between the sidewalk and the curb. It is public property and, with the exception of the City street trees, it is the responsibility of homeowners to maintain.
The committee instead delayed hearing on the item until a future meeting (to be determined) to gather more information from the City Attorneys Office on liability issues.
Under the new draft ordinance language, property owners will not be required to obtain a permit to plant for areas zoned for residential use. Owners will be able to remove existing shrubs and plants, but not trees, and replace the shrubs and plants with landscaping, including edible plant materials, in the owner’s parkway. All plants must comply with the Residential Parkways Landscaping Guidelines adopted by the Department of Public Works. The guidelines document primarily apply to parkway areas found on streets servicing single family homes and/or low density multi-family residential housing.
The adoption of these guidelines will identify the types of landscaping, including edible plants materials that will be planted without a permit, as well as planting, siting and maintenance requirements for landscaping. For more information, please see the Edible Parkway Council File: 13-0478 or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Hector Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Erin Steva, Brownfields Policy Analyst on February 17th, 2015
A controversial proposal to drill and redrill three wells at a West Adams oil production site on Jefferson Boulevard at Budlong Street was withdrawn last month. In November, approximately 100 people attended a hearing on the application with most attendees opposed to the proposal. Speakers expressed concern about the lack of protections for residents of neighboring homes, some as close as 60 feet away, and requested a full environmental review. CHC testified and submitted a letter in support of the community’s request for full environmental review.
Posted by Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on February 13th, 2015
Over the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend Move LA, a public transportation advocacy organization, and Southwestern College co-hosted a South Los Angeles (SLA) Forum about regional transportation investment that drew 150 residents, students, elected officials, public agency staff and community-based organizations from across the County. The forum provided participants a space to discuss the best way to invest transportation dollars to meet the needs of South Los Angeles.
Participants at the SLA forum expressed concerns about both belonging to communities that might get left out of initial transportation investments as well as being displaced from communities where investment may lead to increased costs of rent, services and other living expenses that could price out existing residents and businesses owners. Measure R did not feature any equity-based formulas for investment allocation, which would have greatly benefited underserved communities that are more likely to be reliant on transit and active transportation. The SLA forum was the first widespread convening of major stakeholders in South Los Angeles to begin conversations about the most effective ways to allocate transportation revenues should a similar sales tax measure (currently dubbed “Measure R2”) be placed on future ballots—as early as 2016.
Posted by Ine Collins, Healthcare Systems Policy Analyst on February 12th, 2015
In an unforeseen move at the January 13th board meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved the concept of unifying the Department of Health Services (DHS), Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Department of Mental Health (DMH) into an agency model. Unbeknownst to the public, in December 2014 Dr. Mitch Kitz of DHS was tasked with developing an initial model. In his memo he favored full integration of the three departments into one department, but conceded the logistical challenges that it involved. Instead he proposed an agency model in which all three departments maintained their executive, mission, and independent budgets and select administrative functions and service delivery would be integrated. The three department heads would report to the agency director who would report to the Chief Executive’s Office, and the CEO in turn to the Board of Supervisors.
Posted by Naomi Iwasaki, Mobility Policy Analyst on February 11th, 2015
The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Transit light rail line is expected to open in 2019. It will feature eight new Metro stations, connect the existing Expo and Green light rail lines, and finally create a transit connection to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The project represents a rare infrastructure investment in South Los Angeles and will continue the region’s efforts to provide alternative transportation options for residents and workers. While the light rail line is expected to reduce traffic congestion and bolster economic and community development along the route, the BSC and BIF are efforts to prevent commercial displacement and retain the local culture and businesses of South Los Angeles.
The BSC is located at 3450 Mount Vernon Drive and open Monday – Friday, 9:00a – 5:00p. A satellite office is located at 510 S. La Brea Avenue in Inglewood.
For more information, visit the Business Solution Center new web page at: [www.metrobsc.net/crenshaw]. For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit light rail, visit: [http://www.metro.net/projects/crenshaw_corridor]
Posted by Nancy B. Duan, Communications Director on February 6th, 2015
At a round-table meeting in Los Angeles on January 23rd, Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives from health organizations including our very own Sonya Vasquez, Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee, Visión y Compromiso, Maternal and Child Health Access, Neighborhood Legal Services, and The California Endowment.