Happy Holidays! As we celebrate the season and look forward to the year ahead, I'd like to take this special "Year in Review" edition of Our Valley News to look back at what made 2016 such a special year in the San Fernando Valley.
This year was particularly important to me as it marked my 10th anniversary as a full time elected public servant. A decade ago, in December 2006, I took office as a freshman State Assemblymember in Sacramento, representing the San Fernando Valley. After two decades working in the private sector, I was enthusiastic to put pen to paper on some of the policy ideas that I'd thought long and hard about before I was elected, issues that I knew would matter to the people of the San Fernando Valley.
Some of the things I spent countless hours fighting for in Sacramento a decade ago have had a significant impact on our region and California as a whole. I took tough votes to keep our state fiscally stable during the Great Recession, worked to hasten California's shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, passed a law to prevent predatory profiteers from scamming up-and-coming actors, authored the first successful film incentive tax credit to stop runaway production and save jobs; and was intimately involved in efforts to revitalize Laurel and Valley plazas, once the shopping and entertainment hubs of the East Valley.
With the support of my colleagues and constituents, I made substantial progress for our Valley in Sacramento. Little did I know then that just three years later, I would be back in Los Angeles representing the San Fernando Valley once again and working on the policies I first tackled at the state level.
Many of those policies have not only remained relevant, but in my time as your City Councilmember, I have had the opportunity to implement and expand them. In 2016 alone, I led the LA City Council to put our city on the path to 100 percent renewable energy, worked with the City Attorney's office to step up prosecutions of talent scammers under the state law I wrote, made sure the City of Los Angeles was ready for the influx of local production from the revamped version of my initial film and TV tax credit; and worked with the community to secure a transformative redevelopment project at Laurel Plaza, called NOHO West.
This year was also notable for the forward movement we made on a number of additional issues that directly impact our communities.
One of our biggest victories this year was the passage of Measure M, the initiative that will pump more than $120 billion into our county's public transit infrastructure. Valley voters overwhelmingly stated their wish for more rail, bus, bike and pedestrian travel options. My advocacy on the Metro Board will ensure that the Valley's priority projects are done on budget and on time.
As chair of the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, I know how to set a budget and stick to it. I'm proud to say that this year we passed an $8.76 billion balanced city budget that restored funding for vital neighborhood services, like street and sidewalk repair, improved public safety and the biggest investment in homeless services that the city has ever made.
That investment was compounded tenfold at the ballot when LA voters passed a plan to tackle homelessness in the City of Los Angeles. With Measure HHH, voters approved $1.2 billion to build housing and provide services to the people who need them most. I enhanced that investment with a new pilot program in the Valley to combine housing and job training services for homeless individuals.
We continued to expand other city services as well. As I launched the city's first sidewalk repair program in 40 years, my office put in a new 1,700 foot sidewalk near Bellingham Elementary School, and repaired broken sidewalks in front of parks, libraries and fire stations across Council District 2. With my help, the city repaired 2,400 lane miles of streets citywide, including 58,560 feet in the East Valley.
My office cleaned more than one million square feet of graffiti from 11,354 locations. We also removed 136 tons of bulky items from neighborhood sidewalks and streets as part of the Clean Streets program.
To preserve our urban greenery, I authored a motion to create a citywide management plan that will preserve street trees, while also creating parks, sprucing up playgrounds and planting hundreds of trees in North Hollywood, Sun Valley and elsewhere. Throughout the district, we trimmed 3,489 overgrown trees and removed 197 dead stumps and trunks to keep residents and property safe.
Another central focus of my work in 2016 was drafting and approving the city's new Job Creation Plan, the result of a 15-month collaboration with small business owners and advocates. The plan overhauls and streamlines the way Los Angeles serves the business community, creates better avenues of communication between businesses and the city, and puts Los Angeles in a more proactive, pro-business and pro-jobs role. Los Angeles has seen a net growth in businesses for more than 20 years, has cut unemployment in half over the last decade and has added 135,000 jobs in the last three years. These are all positive trends that I believe we can continue to build on in the year ahead.
We also improved public safety in our city and in our neighborhoods. The budgets for both the Fire Department and the Police Department were increased and they were able to hire and train new personnel to serve our communities.
In addition, Los Angeles continued to lead the nation with creative, common-sense efforts to prevent gun violence. I worked with the Ad Council and the National Crime Prevention Council to launch the citywide "Lock It Up" public awareness campaign, which educated Angelenos about the new law that I authored mandating safe storage and locks for handguns at home. My motion to trace crime guns to the dealers who sell them got support from violence prevention groups nationwide.
The most basic safety we cherish is the ability to feel safe walking around in our communities. That's why I led the charge to install four new traffic signals, 10 all-way stop intersections, two partial stop intersections, six crosswalks and rapid flashing beacons to help people get safely across a dangerous street.
This is just a snapshot of everything that we've done together over the past year, more of which is highlighted below. Above all, I want to thank you for your support and engagement in 2016. I look forward to serving you and working with you to make our community even better in the year ahead.