Let's put our schools & communities first — a special live podcast

Our schools and communities face huge challenges. A major culprit is the lack of resources to ensure small class sizes and comprehensive student and community services. Thankfully we have the opportunity to change that by closing a corporate loophole on commercial property. Check out this panel discussion of the Schools & Communities First measure to learn how we can reclaim $3 billion a year for LA schools, colleges, social services, parks, libraries, health clinics, affordable housing, and infrastructure.


Panelists included:

  • Erika Alvarez, LAUSD Teacher and Founder of Huelga LA Activist

  • Bonnie Ellman of the California Alliance for Retired Americans

  • Ben Grieff, Campaign Director of Evolve

  • Cat Kim, Co-Founder of SELAH Neighborhood Homelessness Coalition

  • Joseph McKellar, Co-Director of PICO California

Listen in —>


Eviction — An American Tragedy

This is a special guest post from Alexis and Anna, LA Forward’s summer fellows —

For our fourth housing book club, we read Evicted by Matthew Desmond, a book that follows eight stories of families living in Milwaukee facing extreme poverty. The book focuses on the relationship between tenant and landlord, centered on the landlords unfair use of their power against tenants who have little to no bargaining power when it comes to eviction and rent control. The author paints a detailed picture of the lives of people trapped by the cycle of poverty and how housing policies play a huge role in keeping them there.

Our members were taken back how much profit is made by landlords who own houses in poor neighborhoods. The amount of chronic debt that residents live with was also staggering. Everyone agreed that eviction is an epidemic that we need to address and that starts by limiting the extraordinary powers that landlords have under the law.

We’re looking forward to reading about not-for-profit solutions to the housing crisis on September 9. Learn more and sign up here.


What's the deal with LA Forward's Westside Book Club?

This is a special guest post from Alexis and Anna, LA Forward’s summer fellows —

We wanted to share with you just how excited we were for the first LA Forward Westside book club meeting! It was awesome to see so many new, eager faces interested in local politics. We read The State of Resistance, a fascinating history of California politics by Dr. Manuel Pastor. Dr. Pastor highlighted the important parallel between California of the 1990s and the US today.

It was thought-provoking and inspiring to learn about how an intersectional approach to movement building has made California politics more inclusive. Our discussion went beyond the book to focus on our own experiences in California during this time period. Everyone who attended had strong opinions on how we can improve California's public education by closing corporate property tax loopholes.

With everyone in the room “clicking,” our discussion lasted for over two hours! We finished up by creating email chain to stay in touch with one another before the next meeting. This was a remarkable start to the Westside Book Club and we’re looking forward to seeing you next time.

Next meeting we will read Patrisse Khan Cullors' memoir When They Call You a Terrorist.


Defending Democracy - Redistricting, the Census, and the Future of California

We're excited to have the Advancement Project's Alejandra Ponce de León on the show to discuss crucially important issues like getting a full, accurate census in one of the nation’s hardest-to-count places (hint hint — it's Los Angeles), why it matters for our democracy and getting the resources we need to tackle our region's biggest challenges, and how people like you can prevent gerrymandering through the independent citizens redistricting commission.

Listen to this episode

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Apply to be part of the Redistricting Commission: https://shapecaliforniasfuture.auditor.ca.gov

Alejandra de Dios Ponce de León is a Policy and Research Analyst of Political Voice at Advancement Project. She leads collaborative efforts, technical support, and policy research to strengthen our democracy by advancing policy changes that eliminate racial disparities and institutional barriers to authentic public participation in decision making. Currently, her work is focused on establishing an Office of Civic Engagement in the City of Los Angeles; leading 2020 Census educational outreach and collaborative efforts with community-based organizations in various counties; and convening philanthropic groups to coordinate and support grassroots efforts to ensure hard-to-count populations are included in the Census.  Prior to joining Advancement Project, Alejandra was the Statewide Campaigns Manager at Californians for Justice, where she laid the infrastructure to engage and mobilize thousands of young voters of color across the state to vote in order to ensure greater accountability by elected officials, as well as passage of progressive ballot measures that address the needs of low income, communities of color. As Lead Organizer with Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD), she was instrumental in bringing together and leading the coalition’s initial legal strategies, organizing plans, and actions that brought about district-based elections in Anaheim. In addition, Alejandra was a union organizer with UNITE HERE! Local 11, where she co-led a successful campaign to unionize food and retail service workers at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, as well as gain higher wages and better health benefits thru contract negotiations with LAX food and retail service workers.  Alejandra received her Master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and her Bachelors in International Development Studies, including minors in Chicana/o Studies and Political Science at UCLA. She currently lives in Long Beach with her husband and baby daughter, Ameyaltzin.

Alejandra de Dios Ponce de León is a Policy and Research Analyst of Political Voice at Advancement Project. She leads collaborative efforts, technical support, and policy research to strengthen our democracy by advancing policy changes that eliminate racial disparities and institutional barriers to authentic public participation in decision making. Currently, her work is focused on establishing an Office of Civic Engagement in the City of Los Angeles; leading 2020 Census educational outreach and collaborative efforts with community-based organizations in various counties; and convening philanthropic groups to coordinate and support grassroots efforts to ensure hard-to-count populations are included in the Census.

Prior to joining Advancement Project, Alejandra was the Statewide Campaigns Manager at Californians for Justice, where she laid the infrastructure to engage and mobilize thousands of young voters of color across the state to vote in order to ensure greater accountability by elected officials, as well as passage of progressive ballot measures that address the needs of low income, communities of color. As Lead Organizer with Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD), she was instrumental in bringing together and leading the coalition’s initial legal strategies, organizing plans, and actions that brought about district-based elections in Anaheim. In addition, Alejandra was a union organizer with UNITE HERE! Local 11, where she co-led a successful campaign to unionize food and retail service workers at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, as well as gain higher wages and better health benefits thru contract negotiations with LAX food and retail service workers.

Alejandra received her Master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and her Bachelors in International Development Studies, including minors in Chicana/o Studies and Political Science at UCLA. She currently lives in Long Beach with her husband and baby daughter, Ameyaltzin.

The podcast returns! With an episode on housing solutions to homelessness

We're back! Tommy Newman of the Everyone In campaign joins us to discuss one of our biggest challenges -- the 52,765 human beings who are homeless in Los Angeles County. It's cruel and immoral and fortunately Everyone In is leading efforts to make sure we actually build the affordable and supportive housing that's needed to solve the problem. We go deep into the long- and short-term causes of the crisis and what people like you can do to make a difference. This is an episode you're not going to want to miss.

Listen to this episode

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WestmorelandPSH (1).jpeg

2018 wasn't all bad

We have big plans for 2019 (stay tuned for those!), but I don’t want to let this year wrap without sharing what we’ve achieved so far.

In 18 months, we’ve grown from an idea into a trusted source of knowledge about local and state policy issues for tens of thousands of Angelenos. And we've become a valued partner in LA’s leading progressive coalitions where we activate thousands of Angelenos to contact their elected officials and give dozens of people the opportunity to step up as leaders fighting for social justice in partnership with marginalized communities.

* * * * *

A Trusted Local Voice

* Our June and Novembers voter guides reached 50,000 people, providing not only recommendations but in-depth explanations for every city, county, and state ballot proposition.

11 voter education events to make the ballot even more accessible. In beer halls and Jewish community centers. Downtown loft parties and mosque community rooms. A Highland Park restaurant and a Sherman Oaks backyard BBQ.

4 Civics classes plus 6 educational issue events, on topics ranging from defending immigrant communities through all means possible to California’s water challenges to Homeboy Electronics Recycling’ innovative green jobs program for formerly incarcerated folks.

9 episodes of the LA Forwards & Backwards Podcast featuring in depth interviews with LA’s rising progressive policy leaders, with a listenership in the thousands.

* * * * *

A Trusted Partner in Winning Progressive Policies

1. Leading ally of LA Street Vendor Coalition, which legalized street vending for the first time in Los Angeles and California this year!

WHAT WE DID: Generated hundreds of support letters to City Councilmembers, State legislators, and Governor, plus dozens of phone calls, and in-person comments at rallies, press conferences, and City Council hearings.

2. Co-led the Unrig LA campaign finance reform coalition which strengthened LA’s public matching funds program so that grassroots candidates can afford to run for office and have a real chance to win against the establishment.

WHAT WE DID: Spearheaded successful outreach to dozens of local organizations, and developed overall strategy and communications.

3. Co-led the ACT-LA coalition for equitable development, making sure that voter-approved propositions from 2016 like Measure M (transit funding) and Measure JJJ (transit-oriented development) are being implemented properly and prioritizing economic environmental, and racial justice.

WHAT WE DID: Our work on policy, strategy, and coalition building increased the availability of affordable housing and reduce displacement and homelessness. Affordable housing is rapidly being built as a result of JJJ and we’ve gotten Metro to make commitments to social justice as they undertake the largest public works program in the entire country.

* * * * *

We’ve done all of this on a shoestring, with only one full-timer (me) and dozens of dedicated grassroots leaders and members.

We rely on contributions from regular people who can donate whatever they're able to afford.

Because grassroots fundraising is what enables us to respond rapidly to emerging issues, take on powerful interests, and remain accountable to regular Angelenos — not risk-averse philanthropists.

That's why your financial support is crucial to growing our local progressive movement.

Can you make a gift today?


We have ambitious goals in 2019 (more on those soon...), and to accomplish them we need to raise $5,000 by Monday. Will you donate today to make 2019 LA Forward's biggest year yet?

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No on Prop 3 Water Bond -- A Bad Version of a Good Idea

Proposition 3 would issue $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds in order to pay for water-related infrastructure and projects. As a general matter, we need to be investing in our water infrastructure and related environmental projects. Many of the goals and programs of Prop 3 are important, especially a half billion dollars for projects that improve drinking water in disadvantaged communities. It’s not surprising that all the government agencies and nonprofit land trusts that would get funding from this initiative support it, as well as some groups representing disadvantaged communities. But the credible concerns voiced by trusted environmental groups like the Sierra Club and good government organizations like the League of Women Voters lead us to oppose it. Prop 3 is not the right answer to our water problems and deserves a NO vote.

Prop 3 has the potential to harm the environment. Its designers rebuffed environmentalists’ requests to prevent any money from being used to build or expand dams, which can hurt wildlife habitats and forest ecosystems. Plus, it moves all the money in the Habit Conservation Fund to water acquisition after 2020. It may also undermine California’s fight against global warming. It moves money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to State Water Project and Central Valley Project water agencies. Instead of funding these water agencies to do new projects, it may simply allow them to fund existing projects that currently are funded from other sources, meaning that there won’t be much, if any, decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

Prop 3 provides subsidies to fix the damage caused by Big Agriculture in the Central Valley and to enable continued destructive practices. According to the Sierra Club, it “provides $750 million to the Friant Water Authority for repairs to the Friant-Kern canal. This $750 million in subsidies could — and likely will — help the Friant Water Authority fund dam projects that are harmful to the environment and strongly opposed by the environmental community. The Friant-Kern Canals are units of the Federal Central Valley Project, which is funded almost entirely by 20 agricultural water agencies that collectively irrigate 879,000 acres of farmland. Purported needs for additional funding cite increased groundwater pumping that has led to subsidence, which has damaged the canals. Those who pumped the water and caused the damage should pay to repair the canals.”

Even more concerning, there is no possibility of legislative or administrative oversight, which is contrary to the normal procedures for environmental bonds. In the words of the Sierra Club, “All of the bond funds are continuously appropriated, meaning that there is no legislative appropriation, removing the public from overseeing how funds are spent or if the programs are effective. The bond programs are also exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act, providing no avenue for public input into the allocation of its funds, and no review by the Office of Administrative Law of whether the spending complies with the bond’s stated priorities.”

The reason Prop 3 is poorly constructed is because it didn’t go through the legislature and governor’s office like most water bonds do. Instead, it was hammered out in backroom deals and extra incentives were included for the wealthy business interests who had money to finance the campaign to get it on the ballot and pass it. The $4 billion water bond that was on the June 5th ballot and was approved overwhelmingly by voters went through this deliberative, legislative process.

Despite this recent bond, in this age of climate disruption, we still need more funding for water infrastructure and conversation. But Prop 3 is not the right way to do it. LA Forward recommend voters vote NO and ask their legislators to craft a better bond measure for approval in 2020.

Homeless Housing -- Yes on Prop 2

This measure would authorize $2 billion in bond funding for supportive housing for homeless Californians with mental illness, funding that would otherwise be tied up in court proceedings for an indefinite period of time. The bond funding was initially approved by the California legislature in 2016. Funding to repay the $2 billion bond measure would stem from the 1% tax increase on millionaires dedicated to treatment of mental illness, initially approved in 2014.

The bond is now held up by a legal challenge that contends that capital funding for supportive housing for homeless people with mental illness is a distinct and separate use of funding than treatment programs, and only the voters can decide to redirect funding that was initially approved via ballot measure. With this legal challenge dragging into its second year with no clear end in sight, legislators opted to place the funding on the ballot in the hopes that voters will approve the change in use.

If approved, the bond would lead to construction of supportive housing, which provides affordable homes for people transitioning out of homelessness; supportive housing is coupled with wraparound services that assists participants in retaining their housing and stabilizing their conditions. While there is strong need for mental health treatment programs statewide, it is also clear that there is not nearly enough supportive housing for people with mental illness — as of 2017, California was home to nearly 35,000 homeless people with severe mental illness.

Mental health groups are largely supportive of Prop 2, including NAMI California (which supports people with mental illness and their families), Mental Health America of California, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, and County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California.

Few mental health investments seem more prudent or pressing than stable, affordable housing with voluntary supportive services for homeless people with mental illness. Moreover, the homeless housing provided by Prop 2 would be a good complement to Prop 1, which will largely provide housing to people that are at risk but not currently lacking a roof over their heads. For these reasons, LA Forward urges a YES vote on Prop 2.


Same as Proposition 1.

Mental health groups are largely supportive, including NAMI California (which supports people with mental illness and their families), Mental Health America, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, & County Behavioral Health Directors Association of CA.


The only organized opposition comes from the Contra Costa County chapter of NAMI.

Affordable housing is a good investment -- YES on Prop 1

State lawmakers placed this $4 billion housing bond on the ballot as part of last year’s legislative push on affordable housing. If passed, the state will issue bonds to fund an array of affordable housing strategies. The largest portion of funding ($1.5 billion) would go to the state’s Multifamily Housing Program, which funds construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing targeted at low-income households, while the next largest portion of funding ($1 billion) would fund home purchase programs for veterans. Several other programs round out the remaining $1.5 billion, including affordable housing for farmworkers ($300 million), affordable homeownership programs ($300 million), and affordable transit-oriented development ($150 million).

The bond comes at a time of staggering need statewide. Last year, just over 1.6 million households were paying over half of their monthly income on rent, while another 134,000 Californians were homeless. In spite of this slowly unfolding statewide crisis, Sacramento legislators have been largely absent from the picture. California hasn’t approved a major housing bond since 2006, when voters approved Proposition 1C, which provided $2.85 billion for affordable housing. All of that was spent many years ago. Another major housing bond is tied up in litigation (see Prop 2). The State also removed the primary source of affordable housing funding statewide in 2012, when Governor Brown and the state legislature eliminated local redevelopment agencies, which provided the seed money for most new affordable housing. New funding has come along in recent years, such as the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, which uses the proceeds of carbon credit auctions, but none of these new sources has come close to replacing the loss of redevelopment agencies.

Investment in affordable housing creates jobs and provides local benefits. Proposition 1 will not only provide affordable homes for Californians, it will create more than 130,000 jobs and pump $23.4 billion into California’s economy. The one-year impact of building 100 rental apartments is estimated by the authors to include $11.7 million in local income, $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 161 local jobs (or 1.62 jobs per apartment unit). The recurring annual impact of constructing 100 rental apartments reaches $2.6 million in local income, $503,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 44 local jobs or 0.44 jobs per apartment.

There are few issues more pressing in California than housing, which continues to drive inequality in stark ways. Homeowners continue to reap the benefits of sky-high land values, while low-income renters scrape by, with millions at risk of homelessness.

LA Forward supports Prop 1 to ensure the state government is part of the solution to California’s housing crisis.


California Housing Consortium
California Chamber of Commerce California Democratic Party
California Housing Partnership
California Labor Federation

California State Association of Counties 

Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) 

Downtown Women’s Center 

East Bay Housing Organizations 

East LA Community Corporation 

Enterprise Community Partners 

Inner City Law Center 

Housing California

LA Voice (PICO California)

League of California Cities

League of Women Voters California

Little Tokyo Service Center

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California

NAMI South Bay

National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter


Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission

Safe Place for Youth

San Diego Housing Federation

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California

Shelter Partnership

Skid Row Housing Trust

Southern California Association of NonProfit Housing (SCANPH) 

The South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness (LA County) 

Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS)


There’s no campaign to defeat Prop 1. However, 21 out of 25 Republican Assemblymembers voted against putting it on the ballot.

Prop 5 drains our state's budget in order to subsidize affluent homeowners


When voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, it rolled back property taxes and placed a cap on annual tax increases until the property was sold. That keeps property taxes low for people and businesses who’ve owned property for many decades. A typical long-time homeowner who sells their home and buys a new one in California often sees their property tax bill skyrocket, since the new property tax is based on current market value. The California Realtors Association (CAR) argues that this dynamic prevents seniors from downsizing and moving to smaller, more age-appropriate housing. This measure, backed by CAR, would allow aging homeowners (55 and older) to take their existing property tax level with them to the new property they buy and avoid the adjustment to market value.

LA Forward opposes this initiative, as it would give a tax break to a relatively affluent group, aging homeowners, at the expense of the rest of the state. California is already financially hamstrung as a result of the passage of Prop 13 in 1978 — while localities in most states are able to rely on property taxes to fund key programs and initiatives, California’s cities and counties cannot, as property taxes can only rise a maximum of 2% annually and cannot exceed 1% of

property’s value. Property tax revenues aren’t keeping up with our communities’ needs. As a result of Prop 13, we’re failing to leverage California’s abundance of highly valued land. There’s also considerable evidence that capping property taxes has actually boosted land values and contributed to higher housing costs. With property taxes capped when California has sought to pay for new initiatives, the state has had to navigate a labyrinth of sales taxes, income taxes, and bond measures, all of which disproportionately impact people at moderate and lower incomes. Passing Prop 5 would exacerbate these woes and leave the State even more reliant on revenue sources other than property taxes. It’s estimated that Prop 5 would cut local government’s revenue by about $1 billion annually.

The sponsors of the measure, the California Association of Realtors, argue that the measure would lead to more seniors downsizing, as low- and moderate-income seniors would be more willing to sell their property and buy a new home without fear of a ballooning property tax bill. But the measure does not target low- or moderate-income seniors at all. It creates a loophole for all aging homeowners, regardless of their net worth or income, and most aging homeowners in California are affluent. California already has to work financial wizardry just to balance the impacts of Prop 13. If voters were to approve Prop 5, it would make matters worse. We urge voters to reject Prop 5.


California Association of Realtors, California Republican Party, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Realtors, San Diego Union-Tribune


ACLU of Southern California

California Democratic Party

California Teachers Association

Congress of California Seniors

Indivisible California

Middle Class Taxpayers Association

LA Voice (PICO California)

League of Women Voters, California

Los Angeles Times

National Housing Law Project

Sacramento Bee

San Francisco Chronicle

Prop 6 will scam us out of essential transportation infrastructure while saving only pennies at the pump - Vote No on the so called Gas Tax Repeal


In 2017, the California legislature passed a bill, SB 1, that increased gas taxes and vehicle registration fees in order to raise $52 billion over the next ten years. This funding was intended to address California’s massive infrastructure and transportation deficit, including a freeway maintenance backlog of $59 billion. Although much of the funding from SB 1 is currently slated to support highway and road repair, there are allocations for massive transit and other progressive transportation programs. Another $100 million is allocated for Active Transportation, which includes improvements to walking and biking infrastructure. Of that, $25 million will bolster community-planning efforts. Additional funding is dedicated to workforce and job training strategies related to transportation. Most Democratic and a few Republican legislators voted for the measure.

Prop 6 would overturn the increases in gas taxes and vehicle fees and stop the hundreds of transportation projects that are already in the works. This initiative requires any future gas tax increase be approved directly by voters, which will make it difficult to acquire the resources our state and counties need to fund vital infrastructure. The money has to come from somewhere and we think it’s both smart and fair for the people who are using transportation — especially the heavily polluting, gas-filled automobile type of transportation — pay for the costs of associated infrastructure.

It’s also worth noting that in June 2018, California voters approved Prop 69. This measure constitutionally guarantees that the money raised from the gas tax and vehicle fee increase will go exclusively to fund transportation repairs and improvements. So there’s no worry that the legislature will try and spend the money raised by gas taxes on anything else.

Conservative groups placed Prop 6 on the ballot because they realized an anti-tax initiative would be helpful in getting their voters to the polls. The initiative was spearheaded by Carl DeMaio, who’d previously led the recall of California State Senator Josh Newman (D-Orange County). The California Republican Party has thrown its weight behind this repeal. They have even enlisted support from national GOP leaders, including U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Although some Democratic congressional candidates in conservative areas have supported Prop 6 to neutralize it as an issue in their campaigns, the pro-Prop 6 website includes only Republicans. This initiative is clearly being used as a wedge to gain partisan advantage.

We urge everyone to vote NO on Prop 6.


California Republican Party

National Federation of Independent Businesses

House Republican Leadership including Rep. Kevin McCarthy & Speaker Paul Ryan

John Cox, Republican Candidate for CA Governor


Environmental groups: California League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Health Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club California, Nature Conservancy, and TransForm.

Civil rights, economic justice, and civic engagement groups: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), East LA Community Corporation, Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), LA Voice, League of Women Voters of California, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), and Public Advocates.

Transportation groups: Alliance for Community Transit – Los Angeles (ACT-LA), Move LA, California Bicycle Coalition, Investing in Place, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Local governments: California State Association of Counties (CSAC), League of California Cities, California Association of Councils of Governments (CALCOG), California Contract Cities Association, and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Senior groups: Congress of California Seniors and California Alliance for Retired Americans.

Union groups: California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition and California Building and Construction Trades Council

Business groups: California Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Business Council, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and most regional chambers of commerce.

California Democratic Party

The Public Can Bank on Measure B -- Why Los Angeles should vote yes on this charter amendment


LA City Measure B would enable Los Angeles to start a City-owned bank, although it would not mandate its establishment. Currently the City Charter (like the U.S. Constitution but for our city) prohibits the creation of commercial enterprises without voter approval. This initiative allows the city government to begin exploring what it would like to establish a municipal bank, how it might be designed, and ultimately whether it makes sense.

Government-owned banks are not as new as you might think. In 1919, the State of North Dakota created a public bank; it’s operated successfully for the last century, surviving every financial catastrophe since its establishment and having revenues that exceed expenses every single year since 2004, despite the Great Recession. As one reporter put, “it supports the most vibrant community bank network in the country, with more branches and higher lending totals per capita than any other state.” During the 2008 financial crisis, not a single bank in the state failed.

There are many possible benefits to a municipal bank here in Los Angeles. The City has massive cash reserves, approx- imately $10 billion at any given time, to pay its bills. That money is deposited in mega-banks, like JPMorgan Chase and Citibank, which charge the City fees and also use the money to make profits through investing it in loans and trades. With our own bank, we wouldn’t be wasting money paying fees to Wall Street firms that don’t have our public
interests at heart and aren’t investing in our communities. The $100 million currently paid in fees could do a lot of good if we kept it local.
Administrative costs would likely be much lower than the $100 million cost of fees, which are inflated by banks’ interest in making a profit.

With our own bank, we could invest in projects that align with our values, while staying away from bad actors, like the fossil fuel industry. The money sitting in the accounts could be invested in projects for housing and infrastructure that could earn a profit and help the community, as well as worthwhile projects around the world.

Indeed, Measure B got its start from the work of activists to get the City to divest from any banks that were investing in the Dakota Access Pipeline. When they succeeded in getting the city to remove its funds from Wells Fargo, they realized that banking alternatives were limited. Credit unions and small community banks were not equipped to deal with government funds. That meant the only place to put the city’s deposits was another Wall Street giant, likely not much better than Wells Fargo and likely still invested in fossil fuels and other destructive projects. That’s why the folks from the DivestLA coalition have been at the forefront of the Public Bank LA campaign.

While people can argue about the ethics and wisdom of any particular investment, a municipal bank would certainly give us more control and options for where to invest our tax dollars, including the option to keep them here at home where they can be lent to support local businesses and infrastructure project. Sounds like a great option for our City to have, right?


Social justice and community groups: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Alliance for Community Transit (ACT-LA), American Indian Movement Southern California, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Coalition for Economic Survival, Courage Campaign, Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles (DSA-LA), Indivisible Suffragists, Investing in Place, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance

Alliance (KIWA), LA Voice, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), Little Tokyo Service Center, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Thai Community Development Center, and Trust for Public Land.

Environmental groups like Climate Hawks Vote, SoCal 350, and Fossil Free California.

Los Angeles County Democratic Party and Democratic Clubs of North Valley, Pacific Palisades, San Pedro, Pasadena Foothills, and San Fernando Valley.


Los Angeles Times

We're Wild for Measure W -- Safe, Clean Water For All


Water is hot these days. Blame global warming. We’ve voted on several ballot props recently about water, including Prop 3 discussed in this guide. Measure W has a unique contribution to make. It would fund projects to grow our local water supply and keep it safe and clean by imposing a small tax on the square footage of a property owner’s land which is impermeable, i.e. paved driveways and concrete patios that storm water can’t seep through.

It’s no secret that California faces a growing water crisis. Climate change is decreasing the average annual amount of precipitation California receives while creating huge swings in precipitation from one year to the next and altering its geographic distribution. Los Angeles, for example, can expect to receive less water from the Sierras’ melting snow- pack, but the amount of rain locally is projected to remain the same. The bad news is that almost none of that rain is currently captured for use. Instead, 90% of it flows into the ocean via street sewer drains and concrete-lined river channels. That’s more than 100 billion gallons of storm water annually, which brings with it 4,200 tons of trash and pol- lutants. This is not acceptable.

By imposing a tax of 2.5 cents each year for every square foot of impermeable land, Los Angeles County will incentivize the use of permeable materials on residential and commercial prosperity, including both artificial materials and organic solutions like mulch and plant-based covering.

Even more important, the tax would raise approximately $300 million, which the County and all of our local cities will spend on infrastructure to capture, clean, and store stormwater. It is projected to double the amount of water that’s captured from local precipitation, reducing our dependence on imports from Northern California, the Eastern Sierras, and the distant Colorado River.

Cities can make their sidewalks and other hard surfaces out of permeable materials rather than concrete. It’s also possible to add “bioswales” by the side of roads – dips in the ground where shrubs, trees, and grass are planted so storm water flows into the ground after being filtered by the vegetation, and winds up in underground aquifers. This measure also presents an opportunity to bring more green space and trees to poorer parts of the county that have lacked these vital amenities. Side effects of implementing bioswales will improve air quality and mitigate extreme heat.

There’s also a new legal reality that requires us to support Measure W. California’s legislature now requires cities and counties to bear the cost of complying with the federal Clean Water Act. Existing funding sources only cover sewers, drinking water, and flood control. Capturing storm water is the missing piece of the puzzle and it’s legally necessary.

With a cost of 2.5 cents per square foot, officials estimate that the tax for a median property (7,500-square-foot lot and 2,100-square-foot house) would be approximately $83 a year. Properties owned by nonprofits and governments are ex- empt. Low-income seniors can apply for an exemption, and the County Board of Supervisors has the option to include exemption for low-income homeowners going forward. Property owners can reduce their tax liability by showing they have less hard surfaces than assessed by the County or if they’ve created infrastructure to reuse rainwater on site.

There is widespread support for this measure among environmentalists, social justice groups, and unions. While the LA Chamber of Commerce is formally neutral on the measure, there is organized opposition from some parts of the business and real estate sector.

Our region can’t survive and thrive without capturing and storing more of the rain we receive locally. Investments in this infrastructure have to be paid somehow, and we think it makes sense to pay for it by taxing the source of the problem—impermeable surfaces. LA Forward strongly recommends a YES vote on LA County Measure W.


Environmental groups: Amigos de los Rios, Communities for a
Better Environment, Friends of the Los Angeles River, Heal the Bay, Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), LA League of Conservation Voters, LA Waterkeeper, Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust, Mujeres de la Tierra, Nature for All, NRDC, Pacoima Beautiful, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Surfrider Foundation LA Chapter, 350.org, TreePeople, & Trust for Public Land.

Social justice groups Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Housing Long Beach, Long Beach Grey Panthers, ACT-LA, Investing in Place, and Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the City of Los Angeles

Business groups like the Central City Association.

Political groups like the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.


LA BizFed
Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA)

For detailed analysis and recommendations on all the propositions, download our ballot guide at LosAngelesForward.org/ballot

Why We Support Proposition 10 — it's crucial for fighting the affordable housing & homeless crises


This measure would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (passed by the state legislature in 1995) and as a result, make it possible for California cities to strengthen rent control. Rent control laws determine when, why, and by how much a landlord can increase rent, in order to prevent displacement of tenants and to prevent housing costs from leading to financial crisis and even homelessness. These policies also provide protections from arbitrary eviction and large payments if a tenant is evicted in order for the building to be torn down or converted to condos.

In the City of Los Angeles, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) limits annual rent increases to the approximately the amount of inflation (usually around 3%) for renters in multi-unit buildings constructed before 1979.

The problem with Costa Hawkins is that it severely restricts cities and counties’ authority to enact, amend, and expand rent control laws. Currently, the law:

  • Makes it impossible for cities and counties to control rents on anything built after 1995 or the date in which a city’s rent control was initially put into effect.

  • Mandates “vacancy de-control,” which means that landlords have the right to raise the rent to whatever they want once a tenant leaves, something that encourages harassment against tenants in “hot” neighborhoods.

  • Bars any form of rent control on single family properties.

This last point is is especially significant in Los Angeles, where working-class families rent out tens of thousands of single-family homes, many of which have been acquired by Wall Street giants like Blackstone (aka “Invitation Homes”) in the wake of the 2008 foreclosure that Wall Street caused in the first place.

There’s been a housing crisis for poor and working people for decades, but it’s accelerated over the last several years and is impacting people higher and higher up the income scale. Repealing Costa-Hawkins will give cities and counties a powerful tool to keep people in their homes as rental prices skyrocket. Repealing Costa Hawkins would not create rent control. But it enables cities to consider enacting and expanding rent control and go through their own, local legislative process.

Rent control policies have been shown to be very effective at reducing displacement and helping tenants remain in their homes in the face of cost pressures from booming rental costs citywide as well as gentrification of previously poor and working class areas. It would be an especially valuable tool to cities that are rapidly gentrifying and have no rent control, such as Inglewood, Long Beach, and Pasadena.

Some cities with rent control ordinances badly need to update their policies — in Los Angeles County, the cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica have rent control on some properties, but not on properties built in the last three decades or single family homes. In the City of Los Angeles, single family properties have been a boom for corporate and Wall Street landlords, but are increasingly unaffordable for long-time residents of gentrifying parts of South LA, Boyle Heights, and Highland Park. Yet, the city cannot extend any form of rent control to these properties because of the Costa Hawkins Act.

Opponents of rent control policies typically argue that rent control increases housing costs by raising rents and curtailing housing production. These arguments are overblown. Empirical findings on these questions are mixed. Some studies have found rent control policies that slow down housing production, but others have found little effect. A Stanford economics study made big headlines early this year for its finding that rent control in San Francisco led to higher rents for residents of non-rent controlled housing. But the increase in rent that the study attributed to rent control only accounted for a very small fraction of San Francisco’s astronomical rise in rents, with other factors accounting for the vast bulk of the increase in rents. Moreover, the study also found that San Francisco’s policy created very notable benefits for tenants of rent-controlled units and made them much less vulnerable to displacement.

 There’s little doubt that a badly designed rent control ordinance can have ill effects in reducing private investment in housing construction or maintenance — but a well-designed one can hugely benefit vulnerable renters who are struggling to survive in a housing market that radically tilts the scales of power towards homeowners and landlords. Repealing Costa Hawkins would be a small but crucial step to giving renters a greater voice in local housing policy debates and allowing cities to tailor policies to their own local conditions.

The other main argument against Prop 10 is that this kind of change should be done through the legislature. That would make sense if powerful interests like the California Apartment Association and corporate developers hadn’t given so much money to legislators that a bill to repeal even parts of Costa Hawkins can’t get passed though a single committee. When opponents say Prop 10 is a bad idea because the repeal of Costa Hawkins needs to be fined tuned, it is unlikely they supported or put much work into repealing it through the legislature.

The initiative’s biggest opponents are the California GOP, the California Apartment Association, and the California Rental Housing Association. Private equity firms such as Blackstone, which own rental properties across California, have contributed handsomely to the No on 10 effort. The California NAACP is opposing it, but its president, Alice Huffman, is being paid $25,000 a month by the campaign. Likewise, the president of California Community Builders, John Gamboa, is vocally opposing Prop 10, but his organization is heavily funded by big banks like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

Supporters include dozens of community, tenants rights, and social justice groups, as well as the California Democratic Party, LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin, and other local elected officials.

We encourage voters to support Prop 10 and give local communities one more tool to address the housing and homelessness crises.


Affordable housing developers such as East LA Community Corporation, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), Thai Community Development Center, TRUST South LA, Venice Community Housing Corporation, Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services (WORKS), and Affordable Housing Alliance.

Tenants organizations like Tenants Together, Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, California Coalitionfor Rural Housing, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, Coalition for Economic Survival, Hunger Action Coalition Los Angeles, Inquilinos Unidos, Los Angeles Tenants Union, San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition, San Francisco Tenants Union, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD), Uplift Inglewood.

Legal and policy advocates like the ACLU of California, ACLU of Southern California, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice, Eviction Defense Network, Inner City Law Center (LA), LA Center for Community Law & Action, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, National Lawyers Guild – LA, Public Advocates, Public Counsel, Public Interest Law Project, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and Housing California.

Social justice groups like the Alliance for Community Transit – Los Angeles (ACT-LA), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE Action), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), California Partnership, Consumer Watchdog, Courage Campaign, DSA, League of Women Voters of California, Liberty Hill Foundation, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress, PolicyLink, Richmond Progressive Alliance, and Silicon Valley De-Bug.

Racial justice groups like API Equality – LA, American Indian Movement Southern California, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Dellums Institute for Social Justice, Fannie Lou Hammer Institute, Latino Equality Alliance, Los Angeles Urban League, MLK Coalition of Greater LA, Black Women for Wellness, and Latino Health Access.

Labor groups like California Labor Federation, AFSCME, California Nurses Association, California Teachers Association, Central Coast Alliance United For A Sustainable Economy, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, Oakland Education Association (OEA), National Union of Healthcare Workers, SEIU California, UFCW Local 770, Unite HERE Local 11, Warehouse Worker Resource Center.

Political groups like Indivisible California, League of Women Voters, California Democratic Party, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and dozens of Democratic Clubs across the state.

Senior groups like California Alliance for Retired Americans Senior and Disability Action.

Religious/faith groups like Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), LA Voice, PICO California, Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church, and Unitarian Universalist Faith in Action Committee.

Education groups like InnerCity Struggle and University of California Student Association. Newspapers like Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee.


Blackstone, Wall Street firm that is also largest landlord of single-family homes, through its subsidiary “Invitation Homes.”

Billionaire conservative developers & Trump supporters Geoffrey Palmer and Sam Zell

Developers like AMCAL Multi-Housing, BRIDGE Housing, GTM Holdings, Highridge Costa Housing Partners, JH Stark Companies, TELACU, The Pacific Companies, and USA Properties Fund, Inc.

Labor groups like State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council

Business groups like California Chamber of Commerce, California Building Industry Association, National Association of Home Builders, Central City Association of Los Angeles, California Apartment Association (landlords), regional and ethnic chambers of commerce

California State Conference of the NAACP.

Newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle.

For detailed analysis and recommendations all the other California and Los Angeles propositions, download our voter guide at https://LosAngelesForward.org/ballot/

Want to take action to support Prop 10?

There are tons of opportunities to talk with voters on the phone and door-to-door.

Check ‘em out at https://www.prop10fortenants.com/greater_los_angeles

You can also make a difference by texting renters and getting them to mark their ballots for Prop 10! It's super easy, it's anonymous, and you can do it whenever you have a few minutes to spare on your computer.

Learn more and sign up at https://resistancelabs.com/prop10/#text

"Defending Immigrant Communities," a live podcast

Check this out — a special episode of LA Forwards & Backwards, recorded live at the SIJCC and features our first ever panel discussion. We bring together leaders from four of California's leading immigrant rights organizations to discuss how to effectively fight back the Trump administration's attack on immigrant communities — through sanctuary policy campaigns, political organizing, lawsuits, legal representation for individuals, guerrilla post-it-noting, and more.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher


Sandra Fluke joins the LA Forwards & Backwards Podcast

Season 2 of the LA Forwards & Backwards podcast is here—thanks to the generosity of listeners like you! To kick things off, we welcome Sandra Fluke, California Director of Voices for Progress who gives us the inside scoop on how politics works in our state. From gerrymandering and term limits to corporate capture of certain Democratic legislators, we get real talk about who wields power in Sacramento and how they do it. Then we discuss the fight for a strong "net neutrality" law and the abolition of "money bail," plus how you can get involved.

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Listen to this episode



Damn it. Let's do something about it.

Every day when I read the news, I get angry and upset. The last few weeks have been especially heartbreaking and infuriating.

What keeps me going is taking action. I'm motivated that people are using LA Forward to get involved for the first time beyond marching and donating money. (Both of which are super important!)

Join in as we gather on Sunday, July 22 to learn about the housing crisis and kickstart our campaign to Get Out The Vote for the November elections!

LA Forward Take Action Meeting — Housing & the November Elections  

Sunday, July 22, 3:00 - 5:00 PM

Looking to get involved with LA's most pressing issues? Want to fight like hell to win some elections in November?

Join us for a meeting we'll focus on housing issues, with a deep dive into how the housing system works (and doesn't) and discuss one of this November's most important ballot initiatives — Prop 10 which would repeal the "Costa-Hawkins" restrictions that limit cities' abilities to enact strong rent control.

Then we'll further develop plans for voter registration, education, and mobilization and start phone-banking and meme-making to make it happen.

RSVP at https://actionnetwork.org/events/july-campaign-meeting-housing-and-the-november-elections


We're re-starting our monthly meetings with a new format. To keep it easy to remember and put on your calendar in advance, they will always be every Second Sunday of the month from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.

August 12, September 9, October 14, November 11, December 9, etc. You get the idea.


The Busy Person's Guide to Making a Difference in the November Elections
Saturday, August 4, 10:00 AM  12:00 PM

Super busy with young kids or even just a demanding job BUT know you need to get involved with the elections? We'll cover the basics of phone-banking and canvassing, plus tips for making time to do it all from experienced campaigners and trainers.

Panel Discussion: The Criminalization of Immigrants + What We Can Do to Fight Back
Wednesday, August 15, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Hosted with the Silverlake Independent JCC. More details soon.

The Other Blue Wave — An Abbot Kinney Political Pop Up Event

Saturday, August 18, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Hang out with us at on Abbot Kinney and learn about California's water issues and solutions from some of your favorite young experts and elected officials.

STAND-LA's Fight Against Urban Oil Drilling

The 11th episode of the LA Forwards & Backwards podcast has arrived! Martha Dina Argüello talks with us about the STAND-LA coalition’s work to phase out the silent but deadly oil drilling that still exists near homes, schools, and hospitals across Los Angeles. Martha shares her story and highlights the need to push for a just transition where disadvantaged communities and workers all benefit from the move from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Listen to this episode:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | GooglePlay


Our Live Podcast with Homeboy Recycling is Now Available!

Get ready -- we're offering a bunch of new  episodes this month!

Kabira Stokes of Homeboy Electronics Recycling joins the podcast for our first live show which took place at the beautiful, historic Pico Union Project building. Kabira shares the fascinating story of she came to establish and lead a social enterprise that employs formerly incarcerated folks, boosting the local economy, and fighting both toxic pollution and climate change in the process. 

Apple Podcasts / iTunes: 

Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=54534785

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4yCKl4lm19PXwYJk4gH8Kx

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/D5wbujp5dvctfip2ik2xylupznm?t=Homeboy_Electronics_Recycling_with_Kabira_Stokes-LA_Forwards__Backwards

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