2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Doug Smith

Doug Smith

Name of Host Organization: Public Counsel Law Center
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects
Sponsors: The Ottinger Family Foundation

The Project

Doug is equipping community-based organizations and low-income entrepreneurs with legal tools and strategies to capitalize on planned transit investment in order to enhance economic opportunities in Los Angeles’ low-income communities.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
An unprecedented expansion of the regional transportation system is fundamentally changing the urban landscape of Los Angeles. As planning and investment in new transit-oriented development intensifies, the impacts are being felt most acutely in the low-income neighborhoods that surround many of the city’s current and future transit corridors. This new investment could create opportunities for economic mobility in neighborhoods facing high levels of poverty and unemployment. But without meaningful input and participation, irreversible community destabilization and displacement could result instead. This project provides legal advocacy and policy support to community groups and low-income entrepreneurs working to create a sustainable framework for inclusive economic growth.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During their Fellowship, Doug has:
• Helped a coalition of community-based organizations achieve a comprehensive and precedent-setting Community Benefits Agreement providing deep affordable housing, good jobs for local low-income residents, and incubator space for low-income entrepreneurs near transit
• Drafted legislation and helped successfully advocate for new local and state laws that preserve and expand affordable housing near transit
• Helped achieve important changes to rules governing development of publicly owned land to prioritize affordable housing near transit and increase meaningful community input
• Assisted nonprofit organizations in building affordable mixed-use development and creating new programming to increase capital and technical support for low-income entrepreneurs
• Provided key legal analysis, public education, and policy strategy to support a campaign to establish a legal pathway for low-income street vendors to enter the formal economy
• Provided legal and policy support to coalition groups working to improve land use and financing tools to create and preserve opportunities in low-income neighborhoods impacted by new public investment
What's Next: 
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Doug continues to work with community based organizations and low-income entrepreneurs to advance equitable development as a Staff Attorney at Public Counsel.

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