Executive Director’s Monthly Report, February 2023
CONNECT SOCAL 2024 SUBCOMMITTEES
In September 2022, SCAG launched three subcommittees to look at emerging issues for the Connect SoCal 2024 plan.
The Resilience and Conservation subcommittee, and the Racial Equity and Regional Planning subcommittee concluded last month, and members of both committees unanimously approved a set of recommendations.
The Next Generation Infrastructure subcommittee will meet on Feb. 15 to review their key findings and finalize their own recommendations.
At the next Joint Meeting of the Policy Committees on March 2 recommendations from all three subcommittees will be considered both for their immediate application to Connect SoCal 2024 and to inform ongoing policy discussion at SCAG.
COMPLIANCE ACTION PLAN
After completing a joint review and evaluation of SCAG’s metropolitan transportation planning process, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) found that SCAG meets federal requirements – with one corrective action.
This action pertains to SCAG’s role in the prioritization and selection of projects funded with Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) and Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funds.
Working closely with the County Transportation Commissions, SCAG staff have finalized a Compliance Action Plan (CAP), which is a high-level framework for how the region plans to address the federal corrective action.
This final action plan was on this month’s Regional Council agenda for approval, which authorizes SCAG to formally submit it to Caltrans and FHWA/FTA. Following this submission, we will continue developing more detailed STBG-CMAQ program guidelines.
REGIONAL COUNCIL APPROVES THE SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PROGRAM – CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, EQUITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE (SCP CEEEJ) PROGRAM GUIDELINES
On Jan. 5, SCAG’s Regional Council approved the SCP CEEEJ program guidelines and authorized staff to release the Call for Applications, upon approval of SCAG’s Regional Early Action Planning Grant (REAP 2.0) full application to the State Interagency Partners.
This competitive Call for Applications includes $5 million through a mix of two funding sources, including REAP 2.0 and Senate Bill 1 funds. SCP CEEEJ is one of the Early Action Initiatives of SCAG’s larger REAP 2.0 program, which was approved by the EAC on behalf of the RC on Nov. 30, 2022.
SCP CEEEJ funds eligible transportation and land use projects, with a focus on funding projects that provide direct benefit to Priority Populations (underserved and under-resourced areas across the region) and encourages co-applicant partnerships between community-based partners and government agencies.
SCAG anticipates opening the Call in the coming months, following the State’s approval of SCAG’s full REAP 2.0 application. SCAG expects evaluation will occur in the spring, with project recommendations in the summer.
LOCAL DATA EXCHANGE PRODUCES GROWTH-RELATED LAND USE UPDATES
In March 2022, SCAG’s Local Information Services Team began the Local Data Exchange Process for the purpose of providing and receiving planning, land use and growth-related data with our local jurisdictions in preparation for the development of SCAG’s Connect SoCal 2024 – The 2024-2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.
As of January 2023, the Local Information Services Team received inputs from 126 jurisdictions in the region, representing 64 percent of regional jurisdictions. The team has coordinated additional meetings with cities in Riverside County in collaboration with the forecasting team to ensure high-quality responses on growth projections.
TOOLBOX TUESDAY ON CURB SPACE MANAGEMENT
SCAG’s Toolbox Tuesday is a monthly workshop in which SCAG staff and institutional partners present information and instruction on new tools to aid in the planning process.
On Jan. 17, Prithvi Deore and two external presenters led a Toolbox Tuesday session on tools for curb space management. The sessions were well attended by stakeholders from across the region.
All past Toolbox Tuesday training webinar recordings are available here.
SCAG RELEASES RFP FOR INCLUSIVE CONTRACTING PROCUREMENT TOOLKITS
SCAG was awarded $3.5 million in a one-time grant funding to implement several core recommendations from our Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy. One of the recommendations was to strengthen supply chains and expand access to contracting opportunities for our local small businesses. To implement this, SCAG seeks to develop two toolkits on inclusive contracting best practices specifically for our cities, counties and anchor institutions (such as universities, hospitals, or companies that have deep ties to the regional and local economy).
Upon completion, public and private sector institutions can look to these toolkits as a roadmap that contains implementable actions with direction on how to expand economic opportunities for our diverse local businesses. The RFP for the Inclusive Procurement Toolkits project was released on Thursday, Jan. 12 and will close on Monday, Feb. 13.
FORMAL KICK-OFF OF ZERO EMISSIONS TRUCK STUDY
On Jan. 4, SCAG kicked off the Supporting Infrastructure for Medium and Heavy Duty Zero Emission Trucks Study, which will conduct modeling, outreach and policy analysis to determine a regional road map for medium and heavy duty zero emission infrastructure planning. This study will create a phased blueprint and action plan toward realizing this goal, and answer key questions about how stations in the region may operate to serve different truck markets and business functions.
The study will assist with planning for investment and infrastructural needs with respect to the quantity, distribution and placement of charging and fueling stations. Up to ten sites will be selected to provide a closer look at the needs of deploying an individual station.
Ultimately, SCAG’s study will feed into a larger study led by the California Energy Commission Research Hub for Electric Technologies in Truck Applications, which seeks to demonstrate and evaluate corridor-based charging strategies for zero emission truck solutions.
CONGRATULATIONS GATEWAY CITIES HOUSING TRUST FUND
The Gateway Cities Council of Governments approved the formation of a new Gateway Cities Affordable Housing Trust last month – a REAP 1.0 success story!
This trust will fund housing projects for all affordable income categories and help the Gateway Cities meet their housing needs identified in the 6th cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).
Cities that join the Trust receive help in collaborating to leverage local housing dollars and combine them with other funding sources. The COG is currently soliciting member cities to join the Trust and will its Board by May 2023.
The program to develop the Trust was funded by SCAG’s Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) 1.0 grant, which provided funding to create plans and programs to increase housing supply and accelerate housing production.
Congratulations to the Gateway Cities Council of Governments on taking advantage of these important dollars that we are providing to help increase housing production in the region.
SAFE STREETS & ROADS FOR ALL GRANT AWARDS
The Safe Streets & Roads For All Grant Program was created in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and provides $1 billion each year for cities, counties and tribal governments to develop vision zero plans in their communities, and implement safety projects in their jurisdictions to prevent death and injury on their local streets and roads.
SCAG was pleased to support numerous applications from our region seeking this important funding, which can help us achieve the safety targets reviewed at our February 2023 Regional Council meeting.
Congratulations to cities of Colton, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Indian Wells, Irwindale, La Habra, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Moreno Valley, Palm Desert, Pasadena, Rialto, Seal Beach as well as LA Metro, County of Riverside, County of Orange and Town of Apple Valley for their planning awards. Special congratulations to City of Los Angeles for its implementation grant.
There are four more opportunities to apply, and the next round of Safe Streets & Roads For All grants will be open in April 2023. If you haven’t already, please sign up for our Money Monday newsletter for updates on this and other funding opportunities.
MOBILITY 21 LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT
SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise and Chief Operating Officer Darin Chidsey were pleased to participate in Mobility 21’s annual Sacramento Delegation Trip at the end of January.
Mobility 21 is a coalition that brings together the public sector, private sector and labor to pursue transportation solutions for Southern California. The purpose of the trip is to advocate for the group’s state legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative year.
This year, priorities included: protecting transportation investments in the state budget, strengthening the collaborative spirit between state and locals, increased funding for transit operations, and support for a more regional approach to national goods movement impacts.
During the trip, the coalition met with dozens of legislators from all over the state, including the offices of Assemblymembers Steve Bennett of Ventura and Phil Ting of San Francisco who are the Chair of the Budget Sub-Committee for climate and transportation programs and the Chair for the full Assembly Budget Committee, respectively.
OTHER EVENTS AND APPEARANCES
Over the past month, SCAG staff have also been out sharing updates on the agency’s work and making connections with key stakeholders.
At the 2023 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting last month, several staff members participated in various workshops and sessions alongside transportation administrators, policymakers and researchers from around the world. These sessions helped to advance our understanding of transportation planning and modeling from recent research into pandemic impacts, and emerging modes of efficient transportation.
SCAG staff also recently participated on a panel on regional governance at The Association of California Cities, Orange County. This event welcomed newly elected council members and was a packed day with representatives from all the major public agencies and utility agencies in the area.
JOE STEPHENSHAW SPEAKS AT THE JANUARY LCMC
SCAG’s Legislative/Communication & Membership Committee (LCMC) had the pleasure of hosting Joe Stephenshaw, Director of the California Department of Finance, at its January meeting. Governor Newsom appointed Director Stephenshaw to this position in July 2022, where he serves as his Chief Fiscal Policy Advisor.
Director Stephenshaw gave an overview of the Governor’s $297 billion January Budget proposal for 2023-2024, with a projected deficit of $22.5 billion. Director Stephenshaw informed the committee of the proposed funding delays, reductions/pullbacks, shifts and trigger reductions meant to bridge the gap caused by the deficit. During the meeting, committee members had an opportunity to ask the Director questions about specific cuts and other facets of the budget. Ultimately, the Director noted that there is much negotiation to be done as we get a clearer picture of the State’s fiscal situation as we approach the June deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget bill.