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Metro Micro Offers Ride-Hailing Service For $1 In North Hollywood, Burbank

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Photo Courtesy of Metro

Metro Micro, the agency’s new ride-hailing service, launched in the North Hollywood and Burbank areas this week offering an introductory rate of $1 per ride for the first six months

The service is designed to replace short, solo trips by offering a flexible, on-demand service operated by Metro employees in vehicles that hold up to 10 passengers. 

Along with other safety measures, capacity is currently limited to five passengers to reduce risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Metro.

The ride-hailing service is set to operate in North Hollywood/Burbank Zone from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week.

The Mobility on Demand pilot began by offering shared rides to or from transit stations in those zones as a way to expand equitable, affordable and efficient access to Metro’s existing transit network. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro expanded to include essential locations such as grocery stores and hospitals and continued to offer rides at no cost. The project also began delivering food and diapers to families in need in partnership with First 5 LA as the pandemic grew.

“We’re incredibly proud of the successful conclusion of our Mobility on Demand pilot project and excited that the lessons learned will be applied to continue to provide our riders new, high-quality mobility options,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington in a statement. “Metro Micro has taken up that mantle of innovation and experimentation and we expect even more success as we expand its footprint to better help our riders get around Los Angeles County for essential trips while reducing traffic.”

Metro’s Mobility on Demand pilot was launched with private ridesharing company Via in 2019 and funded in part by a Federal Transit Administration Mobility on Demand grant and designed to offer a flexible, new option for first- and last-mile trips to and from transit. 

In its two years of operation, this pilot project provided more than 250,000 rides and met or exceeded project goals, including average wait times, ridership and average ride ratings, at 4.9 stars out of 5.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership grew by 178 percent in 2020 as compared to the previous year, demonstrating the value and importance of on-demand technology for essential trips for vulnerable communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro expanded the Mobility on Demand project to include essential locations such as grocery stores and hospitals while continuing to offer rides at no cost. The project also began delivering food and diapers to families in need in partnership with First 5 LA as the pandemic grew. Metro will continue these essential goods delivery programs for families in partnership with First 5 LA and its partner organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The addition of the three Metro Micro service zones will be accompanied by a request from the Metro Board of Directors for just under $6 million at their Jan. 28 meeting to cover the cost of operations in these new zones beyond the current fiscal year.

In February 2020, the Metro Board approved awarding a $29-million contract to private ridesharing company RideCo Inc. to partner with Metro to operate Metro Micro. Similar to other pilot projects, Metro Micro staff will be continually adjusting this service based on demand and real-time results from data collected during its operation.

For more information about Metro Micro, visit here.

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L.A. Mayor Signs Camping Ordinance Aimed At Restricting Homeless Encampments

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance on Friday aimed at restricting homeless encampments in certain areas of the city.

The ordinance, which is set to take effect 30 days from the signing date, bans camping near “sensitive” facilities including within 500 feet of schools, daycares, parks and libraries, according to the  L.A. City Council agenda.

In addition, the measure also restricts sitting, lying, or sleeping as well as storing, using, maintaining and placing personal property in any public right-of-way such as ramps, driveways or bike lanes, among others.

On Wednesday, the council voted 13-2 to approve the measure before Garcetti’s signature. 

Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman voiced opposition to the ordinance, with Bonin recalling his own struggle with housing.

“Some of those nights I slept in the car, some of those nights, when my car was in the shop, I slept on the beach. I cannot tell you how much turmoil is in your heart when the sun is setting and you don’t know where to sleep,” Bonin said. “I cannot tell you how demoralizing and dehumanizing and defeating that experience is when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep.”

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the measure helps regulate shared public spaces while “acting with compassion and purpose” to help people experiencing homelessness.

“This ordinance establishes fair and clearly defined rules for how sidewalks in Los Angeles are regulated — while linking those rules to a comprehensive, compassionate strategy for street engagement that will establish reasonable pathways to positive outcomes and, ultimately, permanent homes,” O’Farrell said.

In order to enforce the new order, the City Council has to take action through a resolution to designate a certain area for enforcement, according to the ordinance.

The city plans to send out “street engagement teams,” along with law enforcement, to assist those experiencing homelessness in the designated encampment by providing connection to services, including interim housing. 

Last month, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released a report outlining the number of shelter beds available across the county.

The number of homeless shelter beds in the L.A. region has increased by over 50% in the past three years, however, demand still outpaces the capacity, according to the agency.

LAHSA found that the L.A. region’s shelter capacity on any given night was 24,616 beds — less than half of the estimated 66,000 people on the street countywide. 

The previous Homeless Count was conducted before the pandemic, with many housing experts and community members reporting an increase in the unhoused population in the past 18 months. 

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L.A. Homeless Shelter Capacity Up 57% In Three Years, Still Less Than Demand

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Tiny-Home-Village-Homeless-Shelter-North-Hollywood-Los-Angeles-1-1
Devon Miller / The Valley Post

The number of homeless shelter beds in Los Angeles has increased by over 50% in the past three years, however, demand still outpaces the capacity. 

The 2021 Housing Inventory Count and Shelter Count, released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Wednesday, shows the nightly shelter capacity in the L.A. area has grown despite challenges faced by the pandemic. 

LAHSA found that the L.A. region’s shelter capacity on any given night was 24,616 beds, a 57% increase over the last three years. The agency also reported 33,592 permanent housing options, an increase of 16% over the same period.

Through “unprecedented coordination” and a critical influx of state and federal emergency funding, the L.A. region’s rehousing system’s response to COVID-19 saved lives, according to  Heidi Marston, executive director of LAHSA.

“We must build off of that momentum as we emerge from the pandemic to build the infrastructure necessary to address our homelessness crisis and collectively confront the conditions that continue to push people into homelessness,” Marston said in a statement. 

The Los Angeles region needs to build a more balanced system with more housing options. A balanced rehousing system has five permanent housing exits for each shelter bed; the Los Angeles system is closer to one-to-one, according to the executive director. 

The Housing Inventory Count is a census of all interim and permanent housing options in the homeless rehousing system at a given point-in-time. This year, the Housing Inventory Count occurred on Jan. 27.

LAHSA reported these results despite the global pandemic causing a considerable strain on its shelter supply. 

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, all of Los Angeles County’s congregate shelters had to decrease their bed count through a process called decompression. 

However, strategic investments by the federal, state, and local governments through Project Roomkey and Project Homekey helped make up for the loss of capacity, according to the agency.

The Shelter Count revealed that there were 17,225 people in a shelter on the night of the count, which is virtually unchanged from the previous year. 

LAHSA cited that without the addition of 2,357 Project Roomkey beds and 497 Project Homekey beds, there could have been a more significant drop in the shelter count due to decompression.

Following the advice of public health officials, LAHSA did not conduct an Unsheltered Count in 2021 to protect the 8,000 volunteers needed to complete the Count each year from COVID-19. The agency is planning to resume the Unsheltered Count in 2022.

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Home Prices In San Fernando Valley Reach New High, Median Nearing $1 Million

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Los Angeles Homes

The median price of San Fernando Valley homes sold during June reached a record high while sales soared 56.9% and the number of properties listed for sale lingered at low levels.

The median price was $955,000, up 28.9% from June 2020, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors (SRAR).

June was the fourth consecutive month with the median above the $900,000 benchmark.

“Not long ago it would have been inconceivable that the San Fernando Valley would see the median home price inching toward $1 million,” said Diane Sydell, president of the association in a statement. “Now it seems inevitable, especially with today’s wealth of buyers, dearth of inventory, and heated competition over virtually every listing.”

The condominium median price for June was $519,000, up 12.8% from June 2020, but 3.9% below the record high $540,000 set this April.

A total of 554 single-family homes closed escrow during June, up 56.9% from a year ago and 11.5% ahead of May’s tally. It was the first month this year above 500 sales and the highest monthly total since June 2018.

The statistics for condominium sales were not as dramatic, in part because of the extremely limited supply of condominiums listed for sale, according to SRAR.

There were 725 active home and condominium listings at the end of June, the first month above 700 listings this year.

“The market has been overheated and buyer fatigue may be a factor going forward,” said Tim Johnson, the association’s chief executive officer. “Too many buyers are weary of competing with unseen competitors and losing to a higher bidder even when they come to the market fully prepared to buy. ”

That may translate in buyers being a bit more cautious, which when combined with the
reopening of the economy may yield a slowdown in sales and a few more listings.

Yet Johnson stressed that a “few more listings” doesn’t go far, even if some buyers are starting to take a bit longer to jump into the market.

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