Nearly 1,000 local and regional leaders are gathering today and tomorrow in Palm Desert for the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) 2023 Regional Conference & General Assembly, one of the largest events of its kind in the United States. As the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, SCAG represents six counties, 191 cities and a population of nearly 19 million.
This year’s conference featured discussions on each of the four main areas of SCAG’s 2024 Connect SoCal Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy update: mobility, housing, the environment and the economy. This plan update – anticipated to be adopted next year – is a compass for local projects to achieve a regional vision for meeting the mobility, environmental and quality-of-life needs for Southern California over the next 25 years.
“Each year, our General Assembly is an opportunity to have meaningful discussions on the challenges we face as a region and what we need to do to address them. As we build toward our 2024 Connect SoCal plan, the input we gather from the region’s top thought leaders will play a vital role in developing effective strategies for the future,” said Kome Ajise, SCAG Executive Director.
Today, gas prices are high, goods movement has changed after the pandemic and the region overall faces challenges in meeting state air-quality mandates. New vehicle technology, sustainable public transportation and land-use planning that better connects where people work and live are all seen as critical elements in addressing the region’s challenges.
This week’s event also included an interactive display showcasing zero-emission and near-zero emissions cars and trucks, charging infrastructure and electric-powered bicycles.
“Electric vehicles already play a bigger role than any of us could have dreamed of a decade ago. We can only imagine the possibilities moving forward, particularly in our region where the transportation challenges are as complex as they are,” said Jan Harnik, a Palm Desert City Councilmember and outgoing President of SCAG’s Regional Council.
Among the other highlights of this year’s SCAG Regional Conference & General Assembly:
- Election of SCAG’s new leadership for 2023-2024.
- Presentation of SCAG’s 2023 Sustainability Award, honoring seven innovative projects from across the region when it comes to integrating technology and creative thinking to build healthier, more vibrant communities.
- The 7th Annual Student Showcase, which recognized innovative student projects in various areas of regional planning.