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Health Matters Los Angeles December 2014

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In this issue:
CicLAvia South Los Angeles
LAUSD’s Update to the 2012 Good Food Purchasing Resolution
Planning Department Hearing on Drilling Wells at Urban Oil Field
Planning Commission Delays Consideration of Large Development Ordinance
Mobility Plan 2035 Presented to City Planning Commission
CHC and LAHealth4All Coalition Host MHLA Consumer Forums
Los Angeles County moves AB-551 Forward
8.3 Mile Rail-to-River Would Support Active Transportation
Hospitals and Community Clinics Collaborate to Improve Care Coordination in South LA
Air Quality Management District May Cut Oil Field Emissions

CicLAvia South Los Angeles

After four years and 10 events, South Los Angeles finally had its own CicLAvia on Sunday, December 7. What is CicLAvia? This free open street event transforms select Los Angeles streets into car-free routes for joggers, cyclists, walkers, skaters, and any other non-motorized form of transportation. It is a rare opportunity for Angelenos of all ages to be physically active on miles of major Los Angeles streets without any conflicts with automobiles. With very few safe, accessible resources for physical activity in South Los Angeles, CicLAvia provides an open, albeit temporary, space for residents to experience their neighborhood like never before.

The South Los Angeles route connected two iconic neighborhoods of via Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard: Leimert Park and Historic South Central Avenue. Community Health Councils (CHC) hosted several activities during the day, including a Health Expo co-hosted by Council District 9 featuring dance and exercise classes, a farmers market, cooking demonstrations, and free health screenings. Neighborhood Healthy Kids Zone schools also joined in by riding to the Expo in feeder rides. And CHC along with Free Lots Angeles partners had a successful vacant lot activation along the route, featuring live music, a pop-up soccer field and arts and crafts.

The event drew tens of thousands of attendees of all ages, by foot, bike, skateboard and even other more imaginative non-motorized vehicles. Community members who had never heard of the event when it was hosted in other neighborhoods came out to be physically active and interact with each other and Angelenos from across the city. Even though the event lasted only one day, South LA got its day in the sun to host and showcase its community strength and culture.

For more information on the event, hub, route, hub locations and through-streets, see the CicLAvia website: ciclavia.org

LAUSD’s Update to the 2012 Good Food Purchasing Resolution

On Tuesday, November 18th the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education was presented a resolution to include Good Food values as part of their purchasing practices.  The current resolution further solidifies the commitment the District made in 2012 on assuring they are procuring the highest quality food possible for its meal programs, with the adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program Pledge. The Good Food Purchasing Pledge (GFPP) is a commitment from food service institutions to improving our region’s food system. The program, which targets food service institutions with food budgets over one million dollars, emphasizes five key values:

  1. Local Economies
  2. Environmental Sustainability
  3. Valued Workforce
  4. Animal Welfare
  5. Nutrition

On December 9, 2014 the Board of Education voted to support the resolution calling for the governing board of LAUSD to reaffirm its commitment to the Good Food Procurement resolution (2012) and to support good food. The resolution directs the Superintendent to commit to the following actions:

  • Incorporate Good Food Guidelines into Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and contracts for food services
  • Request that bidders include a plan to meet the Good Purchasing Pledge standard at a five star level in their RFPs
  • Initiative an assessment of food procurement practices for all approved vendors within six months of the contract award
  • Develop and adopt a multi-year action plan with benchmarks to comply with the Good Food Procurement Resolution
  • Provide student and community nutrition education about the resolution and the Good Food Purchasing Pledge through extensive marketing and awareness campaign
  • Direct the District’s Office of Government Relations to advocate Congress to reduce programmatic waste
  • Report to the Board annually on implementation progress of the Good Food Procurement resolution

For more information, please see the LAUSD File #: Res-035-14/15 or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Hector Gutierrez at hector@chc-inc.org.

Planning Department Hearing on Drilling Wells at Urban Oil Field

The Planning Department’s Zoning Administrator is reviewing a proposal by oil producer Freeport-McMoRan to drill and redrill three wells at a West Adams oil production site on Jefferson Boulevard at Budlong Street. With wells only 60 feet from homes, this site is closer to homes than almost any other LA City oil drilling site and sits in one of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods. The Los Angeles Department of City Planning sets terms and conditions for proposals to drill wells and held a hearing on the matter on November 25th. Attendees, including Community Health Councils, requested a full environmental review on the drilling proposal to allow informed decision making. The operations have never undergone environmental review and Department of City Planning recently reported that the city’s regulations on oil production have not adapted to the changing industry or urban environment. The Planning Department also stated they do not have the issue expertise necessary to update the city’s regulations. This lack of expertise is disconcerting since the Department is responsible for setting the terms and conditions of oil drilling. The Zoning Administrator continued the hearing until January 5 at the request of the local Council District Office. Councilmember Bernard Parks promised to convene a meeting between Freeport-McMoRan and community representatives in order to iron out differences and agree on a set of measures to mitigate the impacts of the operation.  

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

Planning Commission Delays Consideration of Large Development Ordinance

The City Planning Commission delayed consideration of a proposed zoning code amendment that would create a new land use designation for large development projects, following testimony from concerned stakeholders at an October 9 hearing.  Master Planned Development (MPD) zones would allow regulations to be customized to campus-like development projects that contain at least three structures on properties of three or more acres.  In proposing the new zone, the City Planning Department cited costly delays and permit fees that often hinder large, transformative development projects when the city’s outdated zoning code requires the filing of numerous exceptions.  More flexible zoning in these situations could shift attention towards the broader merits of a development project rather than technicalities that may discourage investment and innovative design.  Each MPD zone would be adopted with specialized requirements, but would obligate project applicants to submit detailed proposals on active uses, building mass, circulation, landscaping and urban design. 

The proposed zone was sternly challenged, however, in a letter signed by 19 organizations that have engaged significantly in recent community planning processes.  Criticism centered on a lack of meaningful outreach to stakeholder organizations about the proposed zone, a lack of safeguard provisions to ensure projects are genuinely beneficial to their communities, and the potential for MPD zones to override the extensive policy and standards contained in Community Plan updates and overlay zones, which are being forged through ongoing collaborative planning initiatives.  Although the proposed zone would require affordable housing units for developments that exceed the city’s conventional density limits, the letter challenged whether housing set-asides would properly compensate communities for the value of large expansions in zoning capacity, while also calling attention to the strong gentrification pressures that large developments sometimes catalyze.  According to City Planning, the proposed SOLA Village development (located next to the current LA Mart) would qualify for an MPD zone designation.

For more information, please read the City Planning staff report or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Robert Baird at robert@chc-inc.org.

Mobility Plan 2035 Presented to City Planning Commission

The City of Los Angeles is on its way to adopting the first Transportation Element of the General Plan that focuses on active and public modes of transportation. However on November 20, in a unanimous vote, the City Planning Commission (CPC) voted to postpone approval of the Mobility Plan 2035 until further amendments are made. CPC asked City Planning staff to return in April 2015 with a 5-year implementation strategy and present results from the pending Environmental Impact Report.

Mobility Plan 2035, also called “the Mobility Element”, contains policies and implementation programs that apply to all city agencies and relevant projects and initiatives impacting the transportation network of Los Angeles. The new plan prioritizes safety, vulnerable road users (such as pedestrians, bicyclists, children and seniors) and sustainability—a vastly different departure from the car-centric policy document last updated in 1999. The new emphasis on increasing transportation options for residents and visitors recognizes the nationwide focus trending towards a healthier, more active and less car-dependent system. The Mobility Element includes a Vision Zero policy, which has also been adopted into the Los Angeles Department of Transportation Strategic Plan and refers to the citywide goal of zero traffic fatalities.

The most updated Mobility Plan 2035 draft and Department of City Planning Staff Report can be found at the Mobility Plan 2035 website: la2b.org

CHC and LAHealth4All Coalition Host MHLA Consumer Forums

Community Health Councils (CHC) and other LAHealth4All coalition agencies hosted four My Health LA (MHLA) consumer engagement forums between September and November. MHLA is a health care program for low-income Los Angeles county residents who do not qualify for any other source of affordable health insurance because of their immigration status. The first three forums were held in Spanish and English in the San Fernando Valley, South LA, and East LA. The fourth was a bilingual Korean-English forum held near Koreatown. Representatives from the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC) were present and provided consumers and advocates with clarification on various issues, including the following:

  • The requirement that members be LA county residents pertains to their place of residence, not their immigration status.
  • Applicants who lack identification documentation issued by a US government agency and/or paper verifications of their income or LA county residency can provide sworn statements, or affidavits, instead.
  • MHLA members must receive primary care services at a contracted community clinic. Consumers who want to get their primary care at county facilities should not enroll in MHLA.
  • The MHLA program does not include dental services as a guaranteed benefit but members can obtain free dental care at participating community clinics that offer those services.

Over 150 consumers participated in all four forums and a more detailed synopsis of the forums, themes and recommendations is forthcoming. CHC has been working with the LAHealth4All coalition to engage with DHS, CCALAC, other stakeholders, and consumers in order to advocate for transparent communication and a robust health care program for LA County’s remaining uninsured. For more information on MHLA, please see the website or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at anulkah@chc-inc.org.

Los Angeles County moves AB-551 Forward

On November 5, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced a motion to determine the feasibility of establishing AB551, the California Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) act. AB551 allows local jurisdictions with populations greater than 250,000 to offer a reduced tax incentive to private owners of vacant land who commit to commercial or non-commercial agricultural uses of their property.  Eligible properties would be assessed based on the statewide average irrigated agricultural rate of $12,500 per acre.  The establishment of a UAIZ program could significantly increase the amount of land available for urban agriculture and food production across Los Angeles.   

The motion directs the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the acting Assessor, the Director of Regional Planning, and County Counsel to report back in writing to the Board of Supervisors within 90 days on the feasibility of implementing an Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones program. The report will include an assessment of the number of eligible properties in the County of Los Angeles, recommended budget and schedule for implementation of the Program, and the anticipated impact on property tax revenue and the countywide budget.

For more information, please see the County Motion File 14-4975 or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Hector Gutierrez at hector@chc-inc.org.

8.3 Mile Rail-to-River Would Support Active Transportation

The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently approved $2.8 million for a Rail-to-River Active Transportation Corridor (ATC) along Slauson Avenue from the Los Angeles River to the Crenshaw Metro line. Championed by County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the proposed ATC would transform  a currently blighted and underutilized right-of-way to a public active space for community use by providing 8.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, including a dedicated urban walking and biking trail, access improvements to adjacent Metro light rail stations, and potential for drainage and stormwater treatments.

Rail-to-River is part of a larger plan by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to revitalize the neighborhoods and businesses surrounding Slauson Avenue. Residents who live around the proposed Rail-to-River project have long waited to give the area a facelift. Responding to the concerns, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spearheaded the Slauson Corridor Revitalization Project—an undertaking aimed at making the area more pedestrian friendly and an attractive destination for local merchants and community residents. Other cities have seen similar projects improve economic development and boost retail sales.

To get the wheels in motion, Supervisor Thomas convened the Metro Board of Directors to approve initial plans for the project and identified and secured funding for the full implementation of the project. The Board will report back in May of 2015 to discuss the status of fundraising and the proposed plan for implementation.

For an in-depth overview of the project visit Streets Blog Los Angeles!

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

Hospitals and Community Clinics Collaborate to Improve Care Coordination in South LA

As the first year of the Affordable Care Act comes to a close, many hospitals have experienced an uptick in emergency department visits. Some hospitals across California have begun experimenting with innovative collaborations aimed at reducing the inappropriate use of emergency rooms as a usual source of care and reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions. The Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers (SCCHC), a network of eight Federally Qualified Health Centers in South Los Angeles, and St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, CA are concluding a post-discharge care coordination pilot at the end of December. The ten-month pilot, which was funded by Anthem, was designed to connect patients being discharged from the hospital with a community health center to receive their appropriate follow-up care, and educate them on the best use of the health care system. The coordination and education are done by a team of well-qualified patient navigators who receive a list of patients from each participating clinic to compare to the list of patients being discharged from St. Francis. The navigators have proved very effective in scheduling patient appointments and following up with no-shows. One of the greatest challenges, however, has been the process of setting up the information exchange between St. Francis and the clinics. More details will come to light as SCCHC writes its final report.

California Hospital, UMMA Clinic, T.H.E Clinic, and Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center are in the planning stages of launching a similar collaboration.

For questions or comments, please e-mail June Levine june@southsidecoalition.org or contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Ine Collins at ine@chc-inc.org.

Air Quality Management District May Cut Oil Field Emissions

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is proposing new measures aimed at reducing odors and exposure to potentially hazardous emissions from oil fields. The agency is updating Rule 1148.1 to limit the release of volatile organic compounds from oil operations because of growing awareness of oil drilling’s emissions and proximity of oil drilling sites to residential areas. The update may include enhancing protections at sites within 1,500 feet of sensitive receptors (i.e. homes and schools), easing the burden of confirming that a site is problematic, and increasing transparency around monitoring results. A workshop was held on the proposed update on November 13th. People requested continuous emissions monitoring and disclosure of monitoring results, complaints, and violations. The agency plans on holding another workshop in January of 2015 and finalizing language by April 2015. You can view the workshop presentation and find additional information on the update process here.

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


October Issue of Health Matters Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles Moves to Support Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act

Los Angeles County Launches New Program for Remaining Uninsured