REGIONAL EARLY ACTION PROGRAM (REAP) 2.0 PROGRAM UPDATE
Continuing development of the REAP 2.0 program, staff have been conducting outreach to identify priorities for transformative planning and implementation. This has included engaging representatives from disadvantaged and rural communities on their participation in the program. Most recently, staff hosted virtual workshops to provide information and collect feedback from tribal entities and the public.
The County Transportation Commission Partnership Program guidelines and the Program to Accelerate Transformative Housing (PATH) guidelines were both released for public comment and have been revised based on comments received. You’ll see these guidelines will be on the agenda at the Transportation Committee, CEHD and Regional Council. Both programs plan to open the call for projects in early 2023. The SCP Call 4 guidelines are planned to go to Regional Council in January 2023. Staff will seek authorization from the Regional Council to submit the final REAP 2.0 program application to the state before the Dec. 31 deadline.
HOUSING-SUPPORTIVE GRANT UPDATES: CHANGE TO NOTICE OF FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR APPLICATIONS
We recently reached the Oct. 15 deadline for all SCAG jurisdictions to have compliant housing elements. Non-compliance triggers a number of impacts, including potential ineligibility for critical funding resources. Staff will continue to monitor funding sources and requirements to advocate on behalf of our cities and counties, and importantly, to ensure the residents of our region have the greatest access to funding resources while jurisdictions continue to finalize their Housing Elements.
In September, HCD changed guidelines for the formula-allocated Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA) program to indicate that jurisdictions without housing elements out of compliance on Oct. 15 allocation could not apply. This direction was inconsistent with prior interpretations and housing element compliance requirements in other funding programs. I reached out to the Executive Director of HCD to share our concerns and recommend allowing jurisdictions nearing compliance to maintain access to this critical funding source. On Oct. 7, HCD issued an amendment to the PLHA guidelines that extended the application deadline to Nov. 30 and clarified that a jurisdiction without compliant housing elements may apply if their housing element is compliant by the date of the funding award. HCD plans to award PLHA funds by February 2023.
SCAG will be offering PLHA application assistance, as well as technical assistance for jurisdictions and Tribal Governments to prepare and submit applications for other housing-supportive funding. HCD and other public agencies are releasing several notices of funding availability for grants. SCAG is offering expert assistance on a rolling basis to help selected recipients prepare and submit applications for these funds and grants. Applications for assistance are available on SCAG’s housing webpage and can be submitted to SCAG until program funds are expended. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONNECT SOCAL PROGRAM ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT – NOTICE OF PREPARATION
On Oct. 17, SCAG released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of a Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for Connect SoCal 2024. Release of the NOP formally kicks off the environmental review process, in accordance with the California Environment Quality Act, for the upcoming Connect SoCal 2024. The NOP is currently under the required 30-day public review and comment period — from Oct. 17 through Nov. 16, 2022 – where we will receive comments from interested parties on the scope and content of the Connect SoCal 2024 Draft PEIR. During the public review and comment period of the NOP, SCAG staff will host two virtual public scoping meetings. More information is available at scag.ca.gov/peir.
RAMP/GREENPRINT PUBLIC SECTOR STAKEHOLDER WORKSHOP
Staff held a successful workshop last month to review the draft policy framework for Regional Advanced Mitigation Planning. During this workshop, we heard from public sector agencies who lead projects and can potentially use RAMP and the planned Greenprint tool to expedite their projects and bring more certainty to their environmental review process. Their feedback was helpful as we formulate plans for the Technical Advisory Committee to advise on the development of the Greenprint tool. From here, we will be revising the draft RAMP framework according to this feedback before bringing it back to the RAMP Advisory Task Group and later the Regional Council.
LOCAL DATA EXCHANGE (LDX) UPDATE
Over the course of 2022, SCAG Local Information Services Team (LIST) plans to meet one-on-one (approximately 90 minutes) with all local jurisdictions to discuss the maps in their local context, provide background on the development of Connect SoCal 2024, and provide training on available tools in the Regional Data Platform (RDP) to local jurisdictions. To date, LIST members have met one-on-one Local Data Exchange (LDX) meetings with more than 66% (131) of jurisdictions in the region! Detailed information about the LDX process can be found in a letter that was sent via email to all City Managers and Planning Directors on May 23 from Sarah Jepson, SCAG Planning Director. This is the main opportunity for jurisdictions to provide input into the next regional plan, so staff is working hard to achieve maximum participation. Feedback is due on Dec. 2.
TOOLBOX TUESDAY: CEQA 101
On Oct. 18, SCAG hosted a Toolbox Tuesday session titled “CEQA 101 and the Connect SoCal PEIR”. SCAG staff provided attendees with a basic understanding of the California Environmental Policy Act (CEQA) fundamentals, including the context and legislative intent of the CEQA statute and guidelines, guiding principles, environmental review process, and types of CEQA notices and documents. A recording and materials for the sessions are available on the Toolbox Tuesday website where you can also register for the next training on Baseline Conditions scheduled for Nov. 8. Please reach out to LIST at email@example.com if you have any questions or suggestions.
MULTIPLE SCAG PROGRAMS RECOGNIZED AT THE AMERICAN PLANNING ASSOCIATION (APA) CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE
SCAG’s Disadvantaged Communities Active Transportation Planning Initiative received the Opportunity and Empowerment Award of Excellence from the APA California Chapter at their conference last week. The initiative significantly changes active transportation planning and mobility justice in Southern California by aspiring to make active transportation plans—and their implementation —accessible to all communities in the region. The project developed an Active Transportation Plan Toolkit based on best practices, practitioner input, and most importantly, actual piloting and use in seven communities within the SCAG region.
Additionally, Biking While Black, a 2021 and 2022 SCAG Go Human Mini-Grant Awardee project, received the Communications Initiative Award of Merit from the APA California Chapter. The documentary film is a project from mobility strategist Yolanda Davis-Overstreet and centers racial justice as a planning issue, uplifts Black bicyclists and thoughtfully addresses local experiences. Congratulations as well to the Go Human partner projects that received APA awards at the section levels, such as the Artlands Crosswalk Mural, San Pablo Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project and Muscoy Sidewalks for Safety Coalition. Learn more about these projects on the Go Human blog.
GO HUMAN MINI GRANTS
In September 2022, the implementation period concluded for the SCAG Go Human Mini-Grants Program. This program funds community-based organizations, non-profits, and social enterprises to implement innovative traffic safety and community engagement projects. SCAG awarded over $350,000 to 26 projects representing all six counties of the region. Projects included demonstrations of safety infrastructure, public art to encourage safe driving, walk audits, community bike rides, and other outreach events.
GO HUMAN TEMPORARY SAFETY DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS
Throughout October 2022, SCAG, in partnership with agencies across the region, supported three temporary safety demonstration projects to showcase potential and planned traffic safety improvements in the following jurisdictions:
- Oct. 5: The City of Glendora hosted a crosswalk and median refuge island demonstration and curb extensions for Walk to School Day at Washington Elementary. More than 100 students, parents, and residents participated and provided feedback.
- Oct. 12: The Imperial County Office of Education and Imperial County Public Health partnered with the Westmorland School District to demonstrate an artistic crosswalk in alignment with Walk to School efforts.
- Oct. 27: The Imperial County Office of Education and Imperial County Public Health partnered with Heber Elementary School to demonstrate an artistic crosswalk for their Walk to School event.
PEDESTRIAN SAFETY MONTH AND “WALKTOBER”
Throughout September and October, SCAG and its community partners recognized National Pedestrian Safety Month and Walktober by distributing co-branded safety messaging materials across the region. SCAG developed more than 11,000 safety messaging materials for more than 25 schools, cities, community organizations, and regional agencies. Partners distributed materials to raise public awareness of traffic safety messaging in their communities. Partner organizations customized messaging to reflect unique community needs. SCAG’s Go Human program also partnered with Omnitrans to create and place 18 full-side ads on nine near-zero emission buses using Go Human branded art and messages, generating more than nine million impressions.
GO HUMAN & DIGITAL EQUITY: EXPANDING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES
On Sept. 1, 2022, the SCAG Regional Council adopted Resolution Number 22-646-6, in support of a “Digital Equity Call for Action” to initiate work to promote the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) campaign. The ACP provides access to affordable internet to unserved and underserved areas via broadband subsidies available through the Federal Communications Commission. SCAG is partnering with the California Emerging Technology Fund to bolster the existing ACP campaign to support promotion in alignment with SCAG’s vehicle miles traveled reduction goals and equity commitments, as established in SCAG’s commitment to racial equity in its July 2020 Resolution and the adopted Racial Equity Early Action Plan. SCAG is leveraging successful Go Human strategies to expand and deepen local engagement and increase sign-up rates for the ACP. The program includes Go Human models such as Community Ambassadors, local demonstrations, and technical assistance via resource distribution. SCAG is procuring consultant support for this work and aims to kick-off in early 2023.