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Health Matters Los Angeles October 2014

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In this issue:
Los Angeles County Launches New Program for Remaining Uninsured
Zero-Emissions eHighways
Trader Joe’s Included in USC Village Redevelopment
100 Resilient Cities: Los Angeles
New Air Toxics Study Released
Covered California Open Enrollment and Renewal Period
Comment Deadline for Proposed Residential Development Near Active Oil Field
School-based Health and Wellness Services in South LA
Rolland Curtis Gardens Redevelopment Nears Final Approval
Inaugural Community Transformation Health & Economic Development Summit
LA DOT Releases Strategic Plan
Food Day Showcases City’s Food Access Advocates & Innovators
Metro Adopts Complete Streets Policy
Metro Rail Regional Connector
On the Ballot: Proposition P
City of Los Angeles Moves to Support Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act
Community Events



Los Angeles County Launches New Program for Remaining Uninsured

Though the ranks of the uninsured have decreased significantly as a result of the Affordable Care Act, there are still an estimated 1.2 million Los Angeles County residents who remain uninsured.  Around 400,000 of this group are undocumented residents who are not eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal and may not purchase insurance through Covered California.


LA County is addressing this gap by investing funds in a health care program for the remaining uninsured that does not take immigration status into account.  This program, My Health LA (MHLA), officially launched on October 1and has already enrolled 20,000 participants. LA County residents with income at or below 138% of the federal poverty level who do not qualify for health insurance through an employer, Covered California, Medi-Cal, or any other public program are eligible to enroll, regardless of their immigration status.  


MHLA—which covers primary and preventive care through contracted community clinics as well as specialty, urgent, and emergency care at county-run clinics and hospitals— is not health insurance. It grew out of the Healthy Way LA Unmatched program, which closed September 31, 2014.  The estimated maximum capacity of the MHLA program, based on the annual budget of $61 million, is 146,000, which means only a fraction of the county’s residual uninsured population will be able to participate.
For more information, please see the My Health LA website or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at anulkah@chc-inc.org.




Zero-Emissions eHighways

The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has agreed to test a zero-emission “eHighway” system for the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles. The eHighway demonstration project will run one mile between the ports and nearby cargo centers. Much like the system powering trolleys, a network of overhead wires will connect with the roof of trucks. Once trucks pass under and connect with the wires, they switch from the vehicle energy source to electricity. The technology has been tested in Germany but is the first of its kind in the US. 


Concerns over health, noise, and traffic from goods movement prompted this project. A 2010 study by the University of California Transportation Center found ports pollution was costing the region approximately $900 million a year due to pollution-related illnesses and premature deaths. With ports traffic expected to double by 2050, the AQMD decided to explore this technology. The pilot project is expected to start in July 2015 and run for one year.


For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Erin Steva at erin@chc-inc.org.



Trader Joe’s Included in USC Village Redevelopment

University of Southern California administrators announced in September that the new housing and retail complex being constructed on the former University Village site will include the popular grocery store Trader Joe’s, with a planned opening in 2017.  Local advocates have pursued specialty grocery stores like Trader Joe’s for years with the hope of bringing their healthy and unique product mixes to underserved neighborhoods.  South LA has far fewer grocery stores per capita than the rest of the city and 16% of residents travel 20 minutes or more to buy groceries.  An Analysis of income density and retail expenditures also indicates that South LA consumers are greatly undervalued by national supermarket chains.  The new USC-adjacent store will be the first Trader Joe’s location in Los Angeles south of the Hancock Park and Silver Lake neighborhoods.  It will be part of a mixed-use development that includes restaurants, a pharmacy, residences for 2,700 students, and a public plaza accessible during daytime and evening business hours. 


Providing lacking amenities to both students and local residents is a key aim, but the project comes at a time of major housing instability in nearby neighborhoods as low-income residents and an influx of students struggle to access scarce units.  Last year, community organizations successfully negotiated for a $20 million contribution by USC toward affordable housing development, as well as a local hiring agreement related to the redevelopment, and have called on city agencies to adopt stronger anti-displacement measures near the campus.      


For more information, please see this recent news story and press release regarding the University Village redevelopment, or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Robert Baird at robert@chc-inc.org.




100 Resilient Cities: Los Angeles

In June, the City of Los Angeles was selected as one of the inaugural cities of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative (100RC). 100RC seeks to strengthen city infrastructure in order to allow cities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of day to day operations during good times and bad. As a selected city, Los Angeles is set to receive support and funding from the Rockefeller Foundation in developing a long-term strategy for resilience.

Prior to developing a strategy, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will establish a new city office that will support the soon-to-be hired Chief Resilience Officer. The CRO, a top-level advisor reporting directly to the Mayor, will work across departments and with the local community to develop, direct, and implement a resilience strategy that maximizes innovation and minimizes the impact of unforeseen events.


While the role of the CRO will be new for Los Angeles, the work on building a resilient city has been an ongoing effort for Mayor Garcetti. The City of Los Angeles has already undertaken a variety of activities aimed to increase its ability to effectively respond to a wide range of disasters, reduce the impact of related shocks, and ensure that the City’s most critical infrastructure elements are able to support an efficient and robust economic recovery process for the residents of Los Angeles and the region. 
With the establishment of a CRO, Los Angeles will leverage resources from 100RC to continue building on its previous resilience work. The City is slated to focus on areas that are believed to be most vulnerable during disasters--like community readiness and the resumption of City services as such the resilience priorities will address seismic and sustainability threats and hazards.


To learn more about the initiative and Los Angeles’ Challenge please visit the 100RC website, or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Heather Davis at heather@chc-inc.org.



New Air Toxics Study Released

The risk of cancer from air pollution has dropped by more than 50% since 2005, according to the fourth Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study released by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). The findings point to a great improvement in air quality in the Los Angeles area, with 418 people per million projected to develop cancer from a lifetime of breathing LA-basin air--down from 1,194 cases per million in 2005., This figure is still much higher than the national average of 50 additional cancer cases per million people. Diesel particulate, or the mixture that makes up diesel exhaust, created nearly two-thirds of the cancer risk. State and local efforts to cut diesel emissions contributed to the cancer risk decrease. Sizable disparities across communities remain with residents near the ports, freeways, railways, and Central LA facing some of the highest risks. As the AQMD executive officer said, “the remaining risks are still unacceptably high in some areas.” AQMD is accepting comments on the report until January 5, 2015. You can find the report and a map of cancer risk here.

For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Erin Steva at erin@chc-inc.org.




Covered California Open Enrollment and Renewal Period
In mid-October, Covered California started processing renewals to confirm 2015 eligibility for the 1.1 million consumers currently enrolled.  Enrollees have until December 15, 2014 to report changes in income or family size. Los Angeles County consumers who do not take any action by then will remain covered under their current plan. Those that authorized Covered California to run electronic eligibility verifications will continue to receive financial assistance in 2015 as long as they still qualify, even if they do not take any action during the renewal period.


It is anticipated that an additional 500,000 people will sign up for health coverage during the marketplace’s second open enrollment period (OEP), which will run from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. Current enrollees can change their health plans during this timeframe. 


Though the insurance carriers offering coverage in LA County remain the same as 2014, there are differences that should prompt consumers to review their options closely.

  • There are slight changes in the standard bronze, silver, gold, and platinum deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket limit dollar amounts.
  • Health Net will no longer offer PPO plans. LA County consumers currently enrolled in the Health Net PPO can select a new plan during OEP; if they take no action they will be automatically enrolled in the most comparable product, the Health Net Healthcare Service Plan.
  • Starting in 2015 the standard marketplace health plans include dental coverage for children. Covered California is also introducing optional, standalone family dental plans that cover parents along with their children. Families may also want to consider enrolling in an optional dental plan if their health plan’s dental network does not cover their children’s providers or desired services.

Note: Medi-Cal enrollees do not renew on the Covered California schedule, even if they originally applied through Covered California. Medi-Cal renewals are processed twelve months from the original month of application.


For more information, please visit the Covered California website or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at anulkah@chc-inc.org.



Comment Deadline for Proposed Residential Development Near Active Oil Field

The City of Montebello is considering a proposal to build 1,200 new residences on an active oil field. The 488 acre site currently produces 1,500 barrels of oil a day. In addition to producing a significant amount of oil, the operations run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and would continue near and under the proposed new housing. With oil production creating dangerous pollution, noxious fumes, and disruptive noise, building housing near an active oil site may create health, safety, and quality of life issues. In addition to the health concerns, many area residents prefer the area remain undeveloped and become an open space available to the public. This open space is particularly important because the community  lacks parks. The City is taking comments on a recirculated draft environmental impact (RDEIR) report until November 11, 2014. You can find the REDEIR and Montebello Hills Specific Plan here.


For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Erin Steva at erin@chc-inc.org.



School-based Health and Wellness Services in South LA
CHC has worked with partners LAUSD and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health over the past year to establish school-based wellness initiatives as part of the CDC REACH Partners in Health project. October 13th marked the opening of the Crenshaw Wellness Center – the last of three clinical service centers partnering with the project which will provide more robust and coordinated care to students, their families, and surrounding communities for free or at low-cost. Each center has a partnership with a student advisory board on each campus that helps promote the center’s services and provides recommendations on the health topics most pertinent to students.  The wellness centers accept Medi-Cal and most other insurance plans, but also see uninsured patients, and provides a host of services including sports physicals, dental, counseling, immunizations, women’s health, sick visits, check¬ups, confidential reproductive services, chronic disease management, insurance enrollment, and referrals to community resources.


In conjunction with the centers, new physical activity and nutrition programs have begun at the three schools with wellness centers as well as at 15 other schools in South LA. These programs—ranging from after-school soccer for teens to nutrition for nursing mothers—are free for the school community and provide much-needed educational activities to an underserved population.


The school as a setting for health and wellness is crucial to the success of these initiatives. Schools have long been the centers of the communities in which they serve, providing a safe space in which children can thrive. With these wellness centers and programs, schools can now help the community in even more ways.


For more information and a list of clinics and program, visit chc-inc.org/hkz or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Ine Collins at ine@chc-inc.org.



Rolland Curtis Gardens Redevelopment Nears Final Approval

Numerous tenants, residents, and organizations attended a crowded City Planning Commission meeting on September 11th to support a planned redevelopment of Rolland Curtis Gardens-- the housing complex located adjacent to the Expo/Vermont Metro station near USC.  The Commission approved the project resoundingly citing the growing urgency to preserve affordable housing near mass transit.  Current residents were threatened with eviction in 2011 when its affordability covenants were set to expire.  Abode Communities and TRUST South LA, the complex’s developers, stepped in to purchase the property in order to save the affordable units and include new community-serving amenities.  The proposed redevelopment, shaped by an extensive participatory planning process, replaces 48 existing units with 140 family-sized affordable units--as well as play and gardening areas, a health clinic, and retail space.  The City Council is likely to begin considering the proposal this month.  
For more information, please see Trust South LA’s Community-Driven TOD Planning guide or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Robert Baird at robert@chc-inc.org.



Inaugural Community Transformation Health & Economic Development Summit

This September marked the first ever gathering of community stakeholders from South LA, Southeast LA, Central City, Boyle Heights, Wilmington and Pacoima at the Community Transformation Health & Economic Development Summit.  With over 200 people in attendance, the United for Health initiative engaged with public agencies to address issues of mobility, land use, food access, environmental health, and housing.
The keynote, provided by Manuel Pastor, Ph.D, Director of the USC program for Environmental & Regional Equity (PERE), laid the foundation for broad-based commitment to implement health promotion policies and local community investments to reduce health inequities in underserved communities. Representatives from local government agencies were in attendance to connect recommendations to resources and economic development strategies.


For more about United for Health and CHC’s Community Transformation Grant, please visit chc-inc.org/ctg.



LA DOT Releases Strategic Plan 

The newly released LA Department of Transportation (DOT) Strategic Plan is the first guiding document from the agency that highlights a multi-modal direction for the City’s transportation system. The “Great Streets for Los Angeles Plan” is reflective of the new DOT General Manager, Seleta Reynolds, who comes to Los Angeles with a track record of pushing for safer streets, multi-modal infrastructure, and Complete Streets policies from her former role as the Active Streets coordinator of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The DOT which has jurisdiction over the city’s streets, sidewalks, public parking, taxis and ambulances, underground pipelines, and the DASH bus service, developed the Great Streets for Los Angeles Plan to provide guidance on policies and projects. The Plan also coordinates with Mobility Plan 2035, the transportation element of the currently in-development City General Plan.
Safety is the primary emphasis of the Strategic Plan—including the introduction of Vision Zero -- a policy and action plan  to reduce traffic-related fatalities to zero by 2025. Vision Zero has also been implemented in other large cities focused on transforming streets for all road users, such as New York and Chicago. In LA, six neighborhoods will be named for localized Vision Zero campaigns and studied. Other safety priorities include the citywide Safe Routes to School Initiative and a new Neighborhood Traffic Calming program.

The Strategic Plan also focuses on sustainability and local development, emphasizing programs such as Great Streets, People St, and Regional Bike Share. These efforts all identify ways to improve the quality of life along Los Angeles corridors through economic development, re-purposing underutilized street space, and providing low-carbon transportation options as efficient alternatives to driving.
The DOT Strategic Plan can be viewed online here.

For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Naomi Iwasaki at naomi@chc-inc.org.



Food Day Showcases City’s Food Access Advocates & Innovators

On October 21, Los Angeles joined numerous cities across the country in celebrating local efforts to create a healthier, more affordable, more sustainable, and fairer food system. Food Day at Los Angeles City Hall was organized by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and included honors for Good Food Champions in each City Council district, a Collective Impact Showcase of stakeholder organizations, and comments from city leaders.  The honored included Daphne Bradford (organizer of the Crenshaw High School farmers market), Nelson Garcia (owner of the Alba Snacks & Services market), urban gardening pioneer Ron Finley, and the Watts Healthy Farmers Market collaborative.  Stakeholder exhibits featured innovation and advocacy efforts in a range of policy areas--including healthy food access, urban agriculture, farmers markets, food security, good food procurement, street food vending, food workers, sustainable food, and food waste.  The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Department of Water & Power (DWP), and the Department of Recreation & Parks were also recognized for incorporating innovative good food purchasing policies within their operations.  Following the morning’s events, the City Council affirmed its support of the Good Food Movement and passed a motion to begin drafting a GMO-free zone ordinance. 

For more information, please visit the LA Food Policy Council website or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Robert Baird at robert@chc-inc.org.



Metro Adopts Complete Streets Policy

The first Complete Streets Policy in LA County is on its way to adoption. The policy -- approved last week by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) Ad-Hoc Sustainability Committee—promotes street designs that accommodate all travelers—pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists. On October 23, the full Metro Board will vote to potentially approve transportation and corridor funding for the roads, sidewalks, and other areas around transit stops and hubs. After a yearlong outreach process, the draft Complete Streets policy includes feedback from various stakeholders including cities, Council of Government bodies, advocates, the American Automobile Association, Metro staff, and the general public.


The policy outlines ways that Metro can support Complete Streets on a regional level through corridor planning and transportation funding. While streets are primarily the jurisdiction of host cities within Los Angeles County, Metro plays a lead role in building rail projects, highways, and other facilities. Metro also guides major transportation funding to cities and agencies to develop projects through its annual Call for Projects.

Other notable points from the policy include:

  • Directs Metro to coordinate with local jurisdictions within Los Angeles County for Complete Streets project and initiatives
  • All divisions of Metro should include Complete Streets elements in the planning phases of all projects, unless exceptions are recommended by lead project staff and approved by the Metro Board of Directors.
  • Calls for the formation of a Complete Streets working group to provide technical assistance and input for development.

In response to public comments, the Ad-Hoc Sustainability Committee requested that Metro staff return to the Committee in several months to propose specific performance measures for the policy’s existing implementation plan.


For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Naomi Iwasaki at naomi@chc-inc.org.


Metro Rail Regional Connector
Starting in 2020, transit riders from South Los Angeles, Compton, and Long Beach will be able to travel to Union Station—and even all the way to Azusa—without having to change trains. On September 30th, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking in Little Tokyo to celebrate the start of the Metro Regional Connector construction. The long-anticipated $1.43 billion project includes construction of new train tunnels and three new stations in Downtown and Little Tokyo (2nd Place/Hope Street; 2nd Street/Broadway; 1st Street/Central Avenue). These improvements will connect the seams of the Metro Rail system, eliminating the need for sometimes multiple transfers at some Downtown stations. Metro has further information on the project  here.


For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Naomi Iwasaki at naomi@chc-inc.org.



On the Ballot: Proposition P
In August, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors placed Proposition P on the November 4th election ballot. Proposition P (“P for Parks”) would fund safe neighborhood parks, gang prevention programs, youth and senior recreation opportunities, and beach and wildlife protection efforts.


Proposition P would set a $23 per parcel tax for businesses and homes in LA County and approval of the measure would authorize the County to levy funding for 30 years beginning July 1, 2015 to provide $54 million annually.


Proposition P’s inclusion on the November 4th ballot is in response to the upcoming expiration of Proposition A, a voter-approved1992 Los Angeles County benefit assessment measure which has raised approximately $52 million annually for development, acquisition, improvement, restoration, and maintenance of parks, recreation facilities, and open space lands within the County.  Proposition P seeks to replace that source of funding.


Although property owners will see a $10 a year increase in their taxes related to park funding, Proposition P will support parks and open spaces across LA County and  projects that address: water quality and water supply, parks in park-poor areas, and employing local youth.


To learn more about how Proposition P and how funding is allocated please visit osd.lacounty.gov. You can also follow the campaign on twitter #LACountyPropP @lacountyparks and/or Facebook: facebook.com/parks.lacounty.gov

For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Heather Davis at heather@chc-inc.org.



City of Los Angeles Moves to Support Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act
On October 8th, 2014 Councilmember Felipe Fuentes and Councilmember Curren Price introduced a motion calling on the City of Los Angeles to implement the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act, or AB 551.  The Act incentivizes private land owners who convert their vacant property into urban farms by making them eligible for a property tax adjustment reassessed at the average statewide irrigated agriculture lands rate. AB 551 aims to support the development of vacant unproductive land for growing food.

The motion instructs the Los Angeles Department of City Planning and the Department of Building and Safety— in consultation with the City Attorney— to prepare and present an ordinance to establish Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones.  It also instructs the departments to accomplish the following:

  • Clarify where food growing will be allowed in the City.
  • Establish an application process to determine eligibility for private property owners interested in taking advantage of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone.
  • Develop enforcement mechanism to ensure all laws related to Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones are followed.Coordinate with the County to support the implementation of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones.

To take advantage of AB 551, private property owners who lease their land to a commercial or non-commercial agriculture enterprise must enter into a contract of at least 5 years and abide by all zoning laws. Parcels used for urban agriculture must also be between 0.10 and 3 acres, be dedicated to agriculture or animal husbandry, and be free of dwellings not intended for agriculture or educational purposes. An estimated 8,600 parcels in Los Angeles are eligible.

For more information, please visit the City Clerk Connect website and view Council File 14-1378 or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Hector Gutierrez at hector@chc-inc.org.



Community Events

The City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation is offering Free Fitness Classes for adults and seniors of all fitness levels at twelve parks around the City.

Participating Parks

  • Algin Sutton, 8800 S. Hoover St. Los Angeles CA 90044, 9/2014-02/2015
  • Denker, 1550 W. 35th Place Los Angeles CA 90018, 07/2014-12/2014
  • El Sereno, 4721 Klamath St. Los Angeles CA 90032, 07/2014-12/2014
  • Elysian Valley, 1811 Ripple St. Los Angeles CA 90039, 9/2014-02/2015
  • Evergreen, 2844 E. 2nd St. Los Angeles CA 90033, 9/2014-02/2015
  • Harvard, 1535 West 62nd Street Los Angeles CA 90047, 9/2014-02/2015
  • Hollywood,1122 Cole Ave. Los Angeles CA 90038, 9/2014-02/2015
  • Normandie,1550 S. Normandie Ave. Los Angeles CA 90006, 07/2014-12/2014
  • Poinsettia , 7341 Willoughby Ave. Los Angeles CA 90046, 07/2014-12/2014
  • Ross Snyder, 1501 E. 41st St. Los Angeles CA 90011, 9/2014-02/2015
  • South Park, 345 E. 51st St Los Angeles CA 90011, 07/2014-12/2014
  • Wilmington, 325 Neptune Ave. Wilmington CA 90744, 07/2014-12/2014


Call 323-226-1402 or stop by a participating park for more information!