SCAG is proud to collaborate across the region to plan for a brighter future for Southern California. Here are a few highlights from the fiscal year so far!
Connect SoCal 2024
Last November’s Regional Council meeting marked a major milestone, with approval to release the draft Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy—a long-term vision for the Southern California region. The ensuing 60-day public review and comment period runs through Jan. 12, 2024. During the comment period, SCAG conducted 14 elected official briefings and three public hearings online and around the SCAG region. SCAG staff will incorporate feedback and revise the plan for an expected final adoption of the Connect SoCal 2024 plan in April 2024. For more on Connect SoCal 2024, watch the following short video.
Regional Early Action Planning for Housing and Communities
SCAG’s work with local jurisdictions toward regional goals received a boost in 2023 when the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) awarded $237 million in Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) 2.0 funding. SCAG has facilitated five calls for applications for REAP 2 funding awards, several of which are highlighted below.
SCAG has deployed REAP 2.0 grant awards for local housing programs through PATH, including the Lasting Affordability Program, which awarded $45 million awarded in November; the Housing Infill on Public and Private Lands Pilot Program, which awarded $8 million in October; and the Regional Utilities Supporting Housing program, which wrapped up a call for applications in November and will announce $35 million in grant funding in January.
The earlier REAP 1.0 program, funded with $46 million from HCD in 2021, has funded more than 100 projects. All REAP 1.0-funded projects must be completed by 2024 according to the terms of grant awards.
Mobility and Transportation
SCAG’s work in mobility so far this year has included numerous funding awards and multiple forward-thinking research publications. The County Transportation Commission Partnership Program awarded $80 million last July, made possible by REAP 2.0. In the same month, SCAG also awarded $360,000 to 11 community organizations for local projects that leverage community gathering and resource sites to implement equity-centered traffic safety and community engagement as part of its Go Human program. There’s more to come from Go Human in 2024: The California Office of Traffic Safety awarded $1.3 million in October, including funding for traffic safety demonstrations in local communities through the Community Streets Grant Program.
Reflecting new understandings of transportation planning’s legacy and moving to correct some of the errors of the past, SCAG in November accepted federal funds to support a forthcoming “Highways to Boulevards Regional Study.” The study will collaborate with local and community partners to identify opportunities to remove, retrofit or mitigate transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, such as highways or railways.
Environmental quality is foundational to the region’s future, which includes implementing federal and state requirements to reduce air pollution and vehicle miles traveled. SCAG’s commitment to environmental goals was further exemplified so far this year by two deeply researched reports, published in October. The first, the “Climate Equity Compendium,” provides resources for local planners in the SCAG region to advocate for equitable and actionable policies and implement effective climate adaptation solutions. The second, the “Clean Tech Compendium,” responds to the imminent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in the region, specifically the emissions and pollution generated by the transportation sector.
The Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy has been guiding SCAG’s approach to equitable economic growth since its adoption in 2021. In 2023, grant funding awarded by the California Workforce Development Board supported the creation of the “Inclusive Contracting Toolkit,” a roadmap with actionable recommendations for procurement professionals in public agencies and private anchor institutions to support a shift to inclusive contracting policies, programs and practices. For more on the Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy, watch the video:
In December, SCAG also published the “Digital Equity Toolkit” as a resource for communities and local jurisdictions to plan and implement federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) promotion campaigns and programs.
SCAG’s constant attention to the future prosperity of the region includes regular convening of the Economic Roundtable to monitor the latest economic data and trends, producing reports every quarter (view reports for Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 on the SCAG website). The Economic Roundtable’s work throughout the calendar year culminated at the 14th Annual Southern California Economic Summit, which attracted more than 500 attendees. Publication of a “Regional Briefing Book” coincided with the event and provides an overview of the Southern California economy and county-by-county analysis of trends and what to look for in the year ahead.
Tools and Resources
Sharing information is an essential part of SCAG’s role in supporting planning throughout the region. So far this fiscal year, SCAG hosted 12 Toolbox Tuesday sessions—webinars providing tools and insights to improve planning practices in areas like traffic safety, youth empowerment and housing. Videos from every Toolbox Tuesday session are available on YouTube. SCAG’s Go Human program and local partners conducted six safety demonstration events over the summer, for example, providing community members with temporary, real-world examples of traffic safety improvements, and space to test the changes and provide feedback. To watch SCAG Go Human safety demonstrations and learn how to use the “Kit of Parts” and other Go Human resources, check out the Go Human playlist on SCAG’s YouTube channel.
SCAG also hosted its 34th Annual Demographic Workshop, which gathered the region’s leading demographers and population experts, as well as more than 400 attendees from the public and private sectors, to discuss Southern California’s shifting demographics and their implications for housing, transportation and sustainability. The day’s events include the publication of SCAG’s report assessing American Community Survey data from 2022.
SCAG’s work to support local jurisdictions in meeting state and regional housing goals also includes advocacy with the California State Legislature. In September, the SCAG Regional Council approved the release of SCAG’s recommended reforms for the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process. Some of these recommendations will require legislation to implement, while others will be evaluated for the 7th RHNA cycle. The Legislative/Communications and Membership Committee is preparing multiple proposals for potential SCAG-sponsored bills and to advocate for bills advancing high-priority RHNA reforms; these proposals will be considered by the Regional Council in early 2024.
SCAG’s advocacy work also helped to secure a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program. This funding will support three comprehensive initiatives to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries in Southern California, including Go Human.
SCAG’s work advancing innovative planning concepts has been recognized several times so far this year:
- The “Other-to-Residential Toolkit,” published in 2022, received an Award of Excellence in Best Practices from the American Planning Association (APA) Los Angeles Chapter as well as a Merit Award for Best Practices from the APA California Chapter.
- SCAG’s Go Human program received multiple awards from various local APA chapters.
- The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to SCAG for its annual comprehensive financial report for the 2022 fiscal year.
- The Women’s Transportation Seminar – Los Angeles Chapter (WTS-LA) awarded SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise with the Honorable Ray LaHood Award, which recognizes male transportation leaders who have exemplified the WTS mission by contributing to the advancement of women and minorities in the transportation sector.