AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LOS ANGELES METRO BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
November 30, 2018
Metro Board of Directors
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90013
RE: Concerns with accountability, process transparency, and misalignment between 710-N Funding Recommendations and our shared vision of an Age Friendly Los Angeles County
Dear Chair Kuehl, Metro Board Members, and Staff,
Sixty years ago AARP was founded in California and, in the decades since, has tirelessly advocated for the health and well-being of older adults in the Golden State and across the country. Transportation independence is a key pillar of our social mission; the ability to safely, accessibly, and equitably navigate our communities is critical to comfortably age in place. For these reasons and on behalf of our over 770,000 members in Los Angeles County, AARP has been confident in standing with the Board on several initiatives, including the 2016 Measure M campaign, to affirm our support for Metro’s commitment to help make an Age-Friendly Los Angeles a reality through taxpayer investment in the future of transportation in Los Angeles County.
However, we are very concerned with a pending action regarding staff recommendations for the 710-N Funding Reallocations. Given the importance of accountability, transparency, and alignment with pro-Age Friendly Metro policy, we urge the Board of Directors to reconsider current staff recommendations for projects, and instead, set clear expectations that any list of projects that the Board approves must be based on community-driven criteria and the result of meaningful public engagement.
More than eight million Americans age 65 and older do not drive, and more than half of these non-drivers stay home on any given day. Many of those who do drive are likely to stop using their cars at some point—drivers age 70 and older are expected to outlive their driving years. As Los Angeles County ages—demographic estimates project that the 65+ population will double by 2030—Metro leadership must confront the reality that car-centric transportation planning does not adequately meet the needs of older adults.
If these needs cannot be met, older adults will lose a vital link to social activity, economic opportunity, and community services that support their independence. Community transportation systems that focus on multi-modal options—such as public transit, dial-a-ride, and active transportation—provide far more practical alternatives to private vehicles.
Over the years, this Board has demonstrated support for this Age Friendly approach. We applauded your 2017 Metro Board Motion (Fasana, Barger, Solis, Garcetti, Najarian) which encouraged Metro, Caltrans, and 710 corridor cities to:
“Pursue policies and actions that would promote smart and functional land use, reduce automobile dependency, encourage multi-modal trips, improve traffic operations, and maximize the use of the latest available technologies to enhance performance of the existing transportation system to minimize impacts of the regional traffic on the communities along the SR-710 corridor.”
AARP strongly believes that the staff 710-N recommendations are out of alignment with its Age Friendly Motion. The staff recommendations appear to have disregarded over $420 million in better-aligned, multi-modal requests. Such requests were the product of citizen input from the few 710 corridor cities that hosted multiple public forms (most cities did not). One such city, Pasadena, would benefit greatly from its proposed project funding request, as it has one of the highest fatality and injury rates between vehicles and older pedestrians in the state.
AARP stands willing and ready to support Metro in its stated commitment to make Los Angeles County more Age Friendly. We join fellow 710 corridor community partners, such as the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement, Bike San Gabriel Valley, and others, in advocating for more accountability and transparency on critically important funding decisions for the San Gabriel Valley.
Dr. Gene Wester, Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition
Scott Chan, Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement
Wes Reutimann, Bike SGV
Jazmine De La Torre, Day One
Jessica Meaney, Investing in Place
Cesar Hernandez, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Carter Rubin, Natural Resources Defense Council
Bryn Lindblad, Climate Resolve
Belinda Fastinos, Nature for All