Executive Director’s Monthly Report, March 2022
REGISTRATION FOR THE 57TH ANNUAL REGIONAL CONFERENCE & GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS NOW OPEN!
Join Southern California’s most influential elected officials and policymakers on May 5–6, 2022 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, CA. This two-day event will focus on solution-oriented discussions to address the most pressing problems facing communities, businesses, and families throughout the SCAG region. General admission tickets for the event are $350, but registrations done in advance by Thursday, March 31 using the code EARLYBIRD will receive $100 off the general admission price. The event is free for elected officials and city managers in the region. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please contact Houston Laney at email@example.com. To register and for more information about the event, including COVID-19 protocols, please visit scag.ca.gov/ga2022.
SCAG’S REGIONAL DATA PLATFORM LAUNCHED
On Feb. 23, SCAG launched the Regional Data Platform (RDP), a revolutionary system for collaborative data sharing and planning designed to facilitate better planning at all levels – from cities and counties of all sizes up to the region as a whole. As one of SCAG’s largest and most transformative initiatives to date, the RDP places data and technology in the hands of local jurisdictions to support more robust, transparent, and collaborative community planning. Since July 2021, SCAG and Esri have been working closely with eight pilot jurisdictions to design a system that can potentially enhance their planning activities and allow for greater collaboration. The launch of the RDP includes publicly available resources and tools, as well as the Local Data Exchange (LDX) system, which is accessible to local jurisdictions only. These tools are built using the latest technologies from Esri to allow two-way data exchange between SCAG and local jurisdictions using the LDX process. If you would like to get credentials and one-on-one technical assistance, please submit your request by visiting the RDP Regional Hub at hub.scag.ca.gov or contact the Local Information Services Team (LIST) at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the RDP launch, please read the launch announcement or visit the RDP webpage at scag.ca.gov/RDP.
SCAG HOSTS ‘TOOLBOX TUESDAY’ TECHNICAL WORKSHOP ON SB 379 COMPLIANCE
SCAG’s Toolbox Tuesday trainings provide a range of practical skills and knowledge for local planners, including training in the use of computer-based tools and education in practical approaches to timely planning issues. On Feb. 15, SCAG presented on the Senate Bill (SB) 379 Safety Element Technical Assistance Program, a one-on-one technical assistance series to guide local cities and counties on how to achieve SB 379 compliance. This training session showcased resources from the SCAG Compliance Curriculum for Local Jurisdictions and Regional Climate Adaptation Framework and gave a first look at SCAG’s newest resource, the Climate Risk & Vulnerability Assessment Tool for SB 379 Safety Element Updates. Materials from the training session, as well as for past trainings, are available on the Toolbox Tuesday Online Training Materials webpage. The next Toolbox Tuesday training on the recently launched Regional Data Platform and the LDX process is scheduled for Mar. 15. Please visit the Toolbox Tuesday webpage for more information and to register for future trainings.
HOUSING POLICY LEADERSHIP ACADEMY AND FORUM SERIES
SCAG’s Housing Policy Leadership Academy kicked off in early February 2022 with the first session of the 10-month, 10-session training program, engaging an estimated 270 participants through eight cohorts. Participants learned about the evolution of housing policy frameworks and the fundamentals of systems change and adaptive leadership. Regional Councilmembers provided welcome remarks at each session and staff presented on the Regional Housing Needs Assessment and Housing Element updates. Future sessions will cover topics including: the housing affordability crisis, history of racism and exclusionary zoning, strategies to increase housing production, advocacy and coalition building, state and local housing laws and ordinances, and housing finance.
As part of the Housing Leadership Academy program, SCAG will host the second convening of the Housing Policy Forum Series entitled, “Scaling Housing Production: Strategies and Funding Sources,” on Tuesday, April 19. This forum will offer case studies that highlight strategies and programs that accelerate housing production while also affirmatively furthering fair housing and meeting climate and sustainability goals on a regional scale. Attendees will gain insights into how SCAG’s Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) program was structured to achieve results and lessons learned. Attendees will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on SCAG’s REAP 2.0 program framework. Please visit the Housing Policy Forum Series webpage for updates.
HOUSING ELEMENT STATUS UPDATE AT HOUSING WORKING GROUP MEETING
On Feb. 22, SCAG hosted the second Housing Working Group meeting, which was attended by over 100 participants. As part of the agenda, staff from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) provided an update on the barriers to housing element compliance and addressed issues concerning non-compliance, including eligibility for grants such as the over-the-counter Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA) grant. As of mid-February, only six SCAG jurisdictions have adopted a compliant housing element. SCAG will continue to facilitate conversations with the state and develop technical assistance to support jurisdictions in achieving compliance. The full meeting presentation can be found here.
SCAG PARTICIPATES IN COMTO SOCAL ANNUAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION
On Feb. 25, I participated in a panel organized by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) to discuss their work in removing barriers to increase the number of African Americans in transportation and promoting racial equity in their respective fields. On the panel, I explained SCAG’s recruitment process that reflects inclusive and equitable hiring practices and discussed the agency’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness (IDEA) Team that focuses on developing awareness of diversity principles, leading with shared language, and highlighted prioritizing equity in the implementation of the agency’s new hybrid work model called “Work@SCAG.” The panel shed light on current implemented practices that put equity at the forefront of their agencies, but also with a message that there is more to do.
SWISSCAL CONFERENCE BRINGING TOGETHER SWISS TRANSIT EXPERTS AND CALIFORNIA TRANSPORTATION POLICYMAKERS
SCAG, in partnership with Seamless Bay Area, Metro, and Caltrans, sponsored a conference of four educational sessions to share insight on best practices from the Swiss integrated public transportation ecosystem. The conference provided participants with a real-world example of how another region has successfully integrated and created a seamless transit system. The conference featured expert testimony from Swiss officials through three facilitated, interactive workshops held throughout February 2022. A fourth and final workshop focused specifically on applicability to the SCAG region was held on March 1. This conference supports SCAG’s Connect SoCal transit strategy, including its key connection for shared mobility and mobility as a service (MaaS). Together with SCAG’s ongoing MaaS Feasibility White Paper, the lessons learned from the Swiss experience will inform forthcoming Transportation Committee policy discussions as part of the Connect SoCal 2024 update. Additional information on the conference can be found on the SwissCal Conference on the Swiss Public Transportation Ecosystem event webpage on the Seamless Bay Area website.
INFRASTRUCTURE, EQUITABLE RECOVERY HIGHLIGHTED IN LAEDC ECONOMIC FORECAST PANEL DISCUSSION
On Feb. 16, I moderated a panel on infrastructure at this year’s Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC) Economic Forecast, which was focused on “An Economy in Transition” and the effects on the regional, state, and national economy. The panel discussion explored how partners can collaboratively utilize new federal funding via land, air, and sea projects to create a more equitable recovery in Southern California.