April 16, 2024 - From the April, 2024 issue

Randall Winston on LA’s Opportunities to Transform Its Infrastructure

Amidst a flurry of bills, executive orders, and local measures reshaping the housing narrative in California and Los Angeles, assessing the true impact of these legislative endeavors remains a challenge. At a recent Curbivore event, Randall Winston, Deputy Mayor of Infrastructure for Los Angeles, spoke to the attendees hoping to shed light on the ongoing discourse surrounding LA’s housing landscape and the incoming Capital Infrastructure Plan. TPR shares here the full address given by Winston, in which he discusses the implications of Executive Directive 1, the supply-demand paradox facing California, and UCLA's recent acquisition of the Westside Pavilion shopping mall.

“As a city we have a responsibility to incorporate all users into our vision for the public right-of-way, and that means allocating our resources equitably.”

Randall Winston  

Thank you so much Jonah and good morning, everyone. Happy Friday to you. It's very exciting to be here this morning. My name is Randall Winston, I’m the Deputy Mayor of Infrastructure for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. I want to thank Curbivore, of course, for the invitation, and good to join you all today. This is my first time here, so I'm looking forward to getting out to each of the booths and getting some more time to speak with you all.

Now, you all know this, but the public right-of-way should benefit all Angelenos. It is the thread that connects our city. We can't access work, family, friends, the grocery store, parks, and other key destinations without the public right-of-way. Now, although in today's landscape we can have goods and services delivered to our homes, the people and the very technologies that make those deliveries still rely on safe, accessible, and well-designed streets and sidewalks. As a city we have a responsibility to incorporate all users into our vision for the public right-of-way, and that means allocating our resources equitably.  

Now, the pandemic, of course, changed the way that we interact with public space. And some of those changes are here to stay. One very popular effort we launched was the temporary Al Fresco program, which provided a lifeline for restaurants while indoor dining was prohibited. We are fortunate, of course, here in LA to have beautiful weather, which helped the program succeed, and there continues to be demand for outdoor dining options. So, in an effort to bolster the livelihood and success of our restaurants, many of whom are small businesses, Mayor Bass launched a permanent Al Fresco program that limits costs when possible and adopts guidelines that are respectful to neighboring residents. Outdoor dining not only increases foot traffic, provides more pet friendly dining options and livens our sidewalks, but overall, it makes our public right-of-way more inviting and welcoming. 

The change in demand for public services following the pandemic also had some negative effects. We saw a sharp decrease, for instance, in transit ridership, and that impacted how Angelenos interacted with the public right-of-way as you all know. However, as Chair of the Metro Board, Mayor Bass has made it a priority to improve transit service and reliability, increase safety for riders, improve comfort at transit stops and invest in Metro Ambassadors. We are so proud that transit ridership increased every month last year. We also saw nearly a 12% increase in ridership in 2022 overall, which was the highest since the pandemic, some days even exceeding pre-pandemic levels. 

We can't have reliable, comfortable transit without shade, to keep people cool and healthy, and especially for those who are dependent on buses. That's also why we're excited that the City has a new contract that will result in 3,000 new bus shelters that will not only provide shade, but also include options for scooter docks, e-lockers, kiosks and urban panels. We're using data to ensure that the shelters are deployed where they are needed most, so that 75% of transit riders in each council district can board the bus from the stop with transit shelter. The addition of digital ad panels will increase opportunities for public service announcements and real time notifications. Every shelter will also include an e-paper screen that will display real time bus arrival data. And for the first time, the City will generate sufficient revenue from the shelters to reinvest in the public right-of-way through ADA features, sidewalk enhancements, and curb extensions. And where we know our sidewalks are too narrow, there are also other challenges in accommodating transit shelters. Our new bus shelter contract will allow the City to be more responsive and adapt to the changing needs of our communities.  

And as you all know, we have an incredible opportunity to showcase transformative public right-of-way projects with the World Cup in 2026, the Super Bowl in 2027, and the Olympics in 2028. The venues for these major events are important destinations for Angelenos in general and not just during the events themselves. We will need to deliver first and last mile projects to ensure that the approaches to these venues for major transit stops enhance people's experiences. We want to focus on legacy projects that challenge the City to rethink our public right-of-way, and how we as Angelenos can improve quality of life, especially for those that walk, ride or take transit. We will need all of you to help us do that. 

While we're planning ahead for the significant investments, we're also remaining focused on our core services to improve the public right-of-way. The City has not had dedicated resources to extend the life of our sidewalks and reduce hazards. But this very fiscal year, Mayor Bass dedicated increased funding for sidewalk repairs which has been used for more rapid fixes to make our sidewalks more passable, more walkable, and allow people in wheelchairs, people of all abilities, delivery robots, and more to get to their destinations safely.  

Now, as you all know, earlier this month, voters passed Measure HLA to help make our streets safer and more efficient for pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists, and other users. We formed a task force across our city departments, in partnership with our City Council offices to begin implementation. And we're excited to accelerate delivery of the City's commitments for the 2035 Mobility Plan. I’ll also add that the mayor is excited about looking forward to creating a vision for our infrastructure city wide. And that means a long-term plan for our infrastructure that budgets our improvements on more than just a year to year basis, but instead looks ahead to our major events like the Olympics and beyond. I'm talking about the Capital Infrastructure Plan 

So as a City, we should not be afraid to try new things, including partnering with the private sector to drive innovation and test out new technologies. We've been successful in creating pilot projects ranging from solar lighting to dock-less mobility to testing micro transit in our streets. So as the needs of Angelenos change, the City must adapt to ensure the public right-of-way efficiently allows people, products, and services to get to where they need to go safely. Thank you all, and I'm looking forward to these discussions today.


© 2024 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.