The internet concluded that 2016 was the “worst,” but it wasn’t all bad for Los Angeles. In looking back at the last 12 months, we found the year brought major victories and turning points.
From helping the homeless to the return of professional football to LA, here are the very moments of 2016.
LA stepped up to help get homeless people off the streets
2016 was the year Angelenos voted to pass Measure HHH, generating more than $1 billion dollars in property tax revenue that will go toward building supportive housing for the city’s homeless residents, as well as other homeless services such as temporary showers and shelters. More than 76 percent of voters supported the measure.
Housing and services are sorely needed—more than 28,000 homeless people are living in the city of LA, according to the most recent homeless count. That’s an 11 percent increase over the year before, and the fourth year in a row that the number jumped.
El Niño didn’t wash us all into the sea
Despite the sort of last-minute scramble to prepare for what was anticipated to be a potentially biblical deluge, El Niño turned out to be El No-Show. While drought-stricken LA definitely needed that rainwater, El Niño’s absence meant we avoided massive flooding.
NIMBYs didn’t win every battle
2016 was also the year that no-growth proponents mobilized to place measures on the ballot to thwart development: In the city of Los Angeles, there’s the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which would put a two-year moratorium on most major construction projects; in Santa Monica, the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) called for a popular vote on pretty much all projects taller than 32 feet.
Just when it appeared that NIMBYs were picking up steam, in late August, a poll showed only about 37 percent of Angelenos were in favor of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. By October, the measure, now called Measure S, was pushed to the March 2017 ballot. That election typically has a lower voter turnout, which could be favorable to those hoping to pass the measure.
But Measure S was dealt another blow. One of the celebrities who’d supposedly thrown his support behind the measure, Leonardo DiCaprio, said he’d never endorsed it in the first place.
The November elections rolled around and Santa Monica’s no-growth LUVE, now Measure LV, failed to secure enough votes; 56 percent of voters were against it. We’ll have to wait until the March elections for the fate of Measure S to be revealed.
Parks won big
One of Los Angeles’s most debated parks, Pershing Square, kicked off an imminent makeover this year with a redesign contest. The winner of the four-contestant final competition, Paris-based firm Agence Ter, proposed a flatter, greener Pershing with themed garden sections and a canopy covered in solar panels that will glow at night. A design was also chosen for First and Broadway Park in Downtown.
And, in a move expected to generate generate as much as $30 million, city officials agreed to charge more developers fees to build more parks.
The county’s public green spaces got a boost, too. Voters approved a countywide ballot measure—Measure A—to give parks nearly $100 million a year via a parcel tax. The measure replaced voter-approved funding that dried up last year and will be good to have once a similar funding source expires in 2019.
New trains and bike lanes gave Angelenos more transportation options
Not one, but two new light rail lines opened extensions in the spring. The Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa opened in March, and the Expo Line linking Culver City and Santa Monica opened in May. Both lines were immediately popular with riders.
The highly anticipated MyFigueroa project finally broke ground this year, and will bring pedestrian improvements such as lighting and wider sidewalks plus bike lanes and bike signals to a stretch of busy Figueroa Street between 7th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. With Metro bike share open in Downtown since the summer, more people will be able to take advantage of the major improvements.
There’s bound to be more light rail action and multi-modal improvements across the county because of Measure M, which voters passed this year, ensuring funding for a slew of public transit projects, as well as better sidewalks and bike lanes and pothole repairs.
Football returned (and another team could be on the way)
The announcement came in January that football was returning to Los Angeles in a big way: The NFL offered both the then-St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers the chance to come to LA. The Rams took the NFL up on its offer, while the Chargers made a last-ditch effort to get a new stadium in San Diego.
But the Chargers didn’t get their new stadium in San Diego, and their January deadline to accept the NFL’s invitation to come north to LA is rapidly approaching. Will the Chargers move to LA? If there’s another team in LA, will the pressure push the Rams to win games? So many questions unanswered.