TransForm's first Transportation Choices Summit powers a new movement

Joshua Stark Headshot

Bike lane by oceanAdvocates from Across California Visit Every Legislative Office!

View all the photos from the Summit.image

A Powerful Movement is Born

Across California regions are adopting Sustainable Communities Strategies to combat climate change and create healthy walkable communities.  But these amazing plans won’t ever become real without state funding and policies that support public transit and affordable homes. 

150 people gathered for TransForm’s first statewide Transportation Choices Summit and Advocacy Day focused on making sure Sacramento is behind us.image

"These two days were great,” said Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA.  “This is exactly what we need to be doing.  All of us, from all these different places and interests, banding together to make sure our state leaders finally prioritize transportation choices.” 

The room was packed with leaders from labor, disability rights groups, youth as well as the social justice, health and environmental advocates that have been a major force recently in regional planning.

“Real transportation choices,” said Stuart Cohen, TransForm’s executive director, “address so many of our most urgent problems – the climate crisis, obesity epidemic, affordability, access for seniors and people with disabilities.  The list goes on and on.  It was incredibly exciting to see us all join together to fight for change in Sacramento.”

Real Opportunities for Reform

The Summit steering committee (see members below) had selected three priority bills and two regional bills to support – and Wednesday at noon 32 teams were unleashed to meet with legislators and their staff at all of the Capitol’s 120 offices! 

The teams led off with the biggest current opportunity to expand transportation choices; the upcoming Cap and Trade Program developed by the Air Resources Board under AB 32 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Initial estimates are that the program could bring in over $1 billion the first year and then ultimately up to $10 billion each year.image

TransForm and Housing California have been circulating a proposal to spend a significant portion of that funding on public transit, vanpools, walking and bicycling infrastructure, and affordable homes near transit.  With transportation accounting for 38% of all GHG emissions in the State, it needs to be a priority.

Teams were given regional maps that show the powerful correlation between  strong public transit access, and reduced households spending on transportation and climate benefits.  These fact sheets, based on TransForm’s Windfall for All report, show that Bay Area residents with the best transit access arespending $5,450 less per year, on average, while emitting 42% fewer CO2 emissions. 

Download the fact sheets on the connection between public transportation, climate, and cost savings for four of California's major regions: Greater Los AngelesSan Diego CountySacramento Region, and the Bay Area.

Also on the radar were four other bills:

  • AB 441 (Monning) would require the state’s Regional Transportation Guidelines to highlight the programs and plans that could promote better health and address health inequities. 
  • AB 485 (Ma) would give a desperately needed shot-in-the-arm to affordable housing by making it easier to create Infrastructure Financing Districts.
  • AB 1446 (Feuer) would allow voters to extend Measure R, a tax measure in LA County, in perpetuity in order to accelerate a massive expansion of the County’s rail and bus system.
  • SB 1339 (Yee) would expand public transportation commuter benefits programs in the Bay Area.

First-Time Citizen Lobbyists Learn What an Impact These Visits Make

Rachel Donovan had never lobbied – or even set foot in the state capitol – until yesterday.

“I loved it,” gushed Rachel. “I went to seven legislators’ offices.  It was so easy to be passionate about these issues.”

When Rachel told one legislative aide it was her first time lobbying, the aide told her that all offices keep a detailed log of every single visit: who came, what they care about, and the bills they lobbied on.  This information is then used when a legislator is considering how to vote on a bill.  “If you care about an issue, this is exactly what you should be doing,” said the aide.  “Who walks in these doors shapes how decisions are made.”

“When I learned this,” said Rachel, “I felt like, gee, we ought to come bimageack here to lobby every month!”

Rachel’s right – and we’re excited to keep growing and building the momentum of the Transportation Choices campaign so our legislators hear from us a lot.  

That’s why TransForm decided to convene the first-ever Transportation Choices Summit in the first place.  

“I really feel part of a movement,” said Rachel.

"I found my first lobbying experience invigorating!” said Miroo Desai, a city planner. “Working locally, one forgets the critical role that Sacramento plays when it comes to land use and transportation."

What’s Next in the Movement for Transportation Choices

Like State Senator Mark DeSaulnier said at the Summit, "We can change California in a meaningful way, and indeed we are."  This week was an incredibly successful start to building a strong, consistent movement that pushes our legislators to think differently about transportation.  

And we need to keep the momentum.  Here’s some ways you can help:

  • Sign up as an individual or organization on our Invest in Transit campaign.
  • Get involved in your region – if you are outside the Bay Area check out www.ClimatePlan.org to see who is leading efforts in your region and sign up for ClimatePlan’s newsletter.
  • Support our state advocacy work by becoming a TransForm supporter.  Your generosity allows us to do direct lobbying that most foundations don’t fund.

Big Thanks

The Advocacy Day was made possible by TransForm’s major donors and supporters – thank you!

The Summit Day was made possible with support from the Ford Foundation, Irvine Foundation, and Surdna Foundation.  The California Endowment and Resources Legacy fund not only support TransForm’s state efforts, but gave critical support for Summit scholarships – allowing more diverse participation from across the State.

And last but not least, we had an awesome steering committee that guided the effort:

• Bonnie Holmes-Gen, American Lung Association of CA

• Jim Brown, California Bicycle Coalition 

• Jeff Thom, California Council for the Blind

• Rebecca Saltzman, California League of Conservation Voters

• Ruben Cantu, California Pan Ethnic Health Network

• Josh Shaw, California Transit Association 

• Chanell Fletcher, ClimatePlan

• Stuart Baker, Edenred

• Denny Zane, Move LA

• Elyse Lowe, Move San Diego

• Justin Horner, NRDC 

• Chione Flegal, PolicyLink

• Marty Martinez, Safe Routes To School National Partnership

• Ryan Wiggins, Transportation for America

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.