How tomorrow’s election could affect your built-environment

Bruins, are you aware that there is an election tomorrow?

It is a local election conducted by the County of Los Angeles. Los Angeles voters will be electing a new mayor, city council, and school board, along with a number of county-wide and city-wide measures. Read on to find out what role you could play in shaping the built-environment of Westwood and city of Los Angeles through your vote.

City Measure S — This is a measure that aims to increase regulation of general planning and development of housing in Los Angeles. Passing of Measure S would impose moratorium on constructions of many development projects and increase restrictions on getting new projects approved in the city of Los Angeles. Proponents argue that this will strengthen the integrity of the process in which development projects are approved. Opponents of Measure S, on the other hand, argue that moratorium and greater restrictions on development projects will result in housing shortages, exacerbating homelessness and decreasing tax revenues for public services.

While development projects – both for business and housing – may seem solely like a social issue, it is an important factor for the built-environment and consequently for the well-being of our city. For example, a study has shown that housing insecurity is associated with poor health, lower weight, and greater developmental risk for young children. The study further recommends that policymakers should prioritize policies that promote greater housing security.

In another study, researchers surveyed 68,111 adults in twelve different states, and found that housing insecurity significantly increases the risk of frequent insufficient sleep and frequent mental distress.

Thus, whether or not Measure S passes could have a long-term consequence for the well-being of Angelinos. Make sure to read more about this initiative and vote mindfully.

Another issue that is particularly relevant for Westwood residents is election of a council member for District 5, which includes Westwood. There are three candidates running for this position: Paul Koretz, Jesse Creed, and Mark Herd. While each candidate has a number of campaign agendas, this post focuses on each candidate’s position on bike lanes, public transit, and pedestrian safety.

Paul Coretz — Coretz has been a council member for District 5 since 2009. His response to the survey conducted by Bike the Vote indicates his efforts to promote biking for District 5 as well as his support for biking, more efficient transit, and pedestrian safety. However, it appears that his position on supporting Vision Zero seems inconsistent. Vision Zero aims to eliminate traffic-related death in Los Angeles in the next 20 years. Coretz states that he will continue to advocate for the safety of walkers and bikers. However, he is opposed to installing bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard, a project supported by UCLA and the Westwood Village Improvement Association. Westwood Boulevard has been identified as one of most dangerous streets by the L.A. Department of Transportation’s High Injury Network. Coretz’s proposed alternative is to put a bike lane on Gayley Avenue instead.

Jesse Creed — Like Coretz, Creed is also in support of safety. However, his concrete plans are different. First, he has expressed his commitment to continuing the study for bike safety, which has been abandoned by Coretz. On the survey conducted by Bike The Vote, he stated, “The City’s job is to make it not dangerous” regarding the current status of Westwood Boulevard. In addition, Creed also highlights ensuring safety for all people regardless of their age, ability, and mode of transportation.

Mark Herd — Based on the Bike The Vote survey, Herd appears to support “the community’s needs.” However, compared to Coretz and Creed, his stance does not seem clear and knowledge on the issue limited.

While bike lane, public transit, and pedestrian safety reflect only partial vision of each candidates, these are issues that can influence our daily commute and long-term health and safety. Ensuring that we elect a council member who advocates for and prioritizes the mobility of their constituents is a vital step to making our community healthier. If you’re unsure of your polling place, you can find it here.

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.

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