Propel L.A. launched its inaugural 88 Cities Summit event last week, and it was a great success!
The Summit was held on August 2, 2018 at the W Hotel Hollywood. Despite the surprise film shoot shutting down streets with fire trucks, ambulances, and an extensive crew of extras, the “show went on” without a hitch, to a sold-out crowd of over 160 city leaders, economic developers, educators, and community stakeholders.
Julián Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former Mayor of San Antonio, joined us as keynote speaker, and provided an inspirational and vision-filled speech. He discussed how economic development demands regionalism, and that sometimes, the larger cities need to take a backseat to let the smaller cities step-up and shine. With his national and regional perspective, he challenged attendees to be involved on a local level – exhorting that lasting, community change is done at the local, city level.
His keynote was followed by two energized and informative sessions led by United Way of Greater Los Angeles and BizFed Institute.
United Way presented the #EveryoneIn campaign, and its marked success since its launch in March of this year. Tommy Newman, of United Way, spoke about the initiative’s goals to activate, engage, and educate communities on the plight and true face of homelessness. He also discussed the program’s engagement strategy of: 1) Community Pop-Ups; 2) Storytelling Nights; 3) Housing Tours; and 4) the Annual Homewalk. They’ve dropped the “Permanent” from Supportive Housing – to streamline the explanation of housing development for the homeless and remove stigmas. They also highlighted the work of the cities of Whittier and Burbank, with an engaging “pop-up speaker” format.
BizFed Institute announced results of its Pulse Poll of the business community, noting that housing, taxes and fees, and the local government environment are the main issues and concerns for the business community. Represented by Elizabeth Shapiro, COO of BizFed, she also reviewed what cities are viewed as the most business friendly, and which are the least. Following the poll update, a panel of experts – including Jennifer Hernandez of West Coast Land Use and Environmental Group, Steve PonTell of National Community Renaissance, and Brent Gaisford of Abundant Housing LA – presented challenges and opportunities in affordable housing and CEQA. As Jennifer shared, 70% of CEQA lawsuits were in the Southern California Association of Government’s (SCAG) transit priority areas and 99% of lawsuits in urbanized areas (from SCAG and US Census Bureau, 2016 data). As a follow-up, Steve and Brent shared about the challenges this and other factors present to affordable housing development. But they also shared innovative solutions that cities are implementing, including the city of Monrovia’s GoMonrovia program, which could lead to reduced parking requirements for housing developments through enhanced public transportation options. Other solutions included the expansion of “granny flats” on existing home lots, and the building of four-plexes (being less expensive than multi-story developments.)
The day ended on a high-note, with Dr. Fernando Guerra of Loyola Marymount University and the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles sharing highlights of a “Leaders Survey” given earlier in the day to a smaller group of mayors, other elected officials, and business executives.
Some survey highlights:
- 100% of the survey respondents believe that residents cannot afford to buy a home in their city. A majority (67%) believe that homelessness will increase in 2019.
- In comparison to 2014, this year’s survey respondents are more optimistic about their city’s economic/business conditions: 47% believe that conditions have improved a lot in the past five years (vs. only 17% in 2014)
- The most important Propel L.A. Countywide Strategic Plan goal in 2019 for survey respondents is Goal 7, Build More Livable Communities: 67% of respondents selected this goal as one of the three most important goals for their city. Other top goals include Goal 4, Be More Business Friendly, and Goal 5, Remove Barriers to Critical Infrastructure Development (both at 56%)
The Propel L.A. team looks forward to next year’s 88 Cities Summit where we will continue to bring together city leaders and community stakeholders, to discuss important issues to propel economic growth and equity throughout our region.
Thank you to this year’s event sponsors:
- Presenting Sponsor: Bank of America
- Pre-Summit Leaders’ Exchange Sponsors: Loyola Marymount University, Wells Fargo
- Program Sponsors: United Way of Greater Los Angeles, BizFed Institute
- Summit Sponsors: California State University, Northridge; KP Public Affairs; AFL-CIO
Thank you to all who joined us for our inaugural event!
See all the event photos on Flickr.