Executive Director’s Monthly Report, April 2023


Executive Director's Report Banner

SCAG Kicks Off Public Outreach Initiatives for Connect SoCal 2024  

Every four years, SCAG updates its visionary plan for the future of the region, Connect SoCal. This process is now underway, and we want to hear from our stakeholders.  

Please join us at a public workshop or pop-up event to learn more about the plan, ask questions and provide input. The purpose of these events is to gather input from each community to establish planning priorities for the next 20 to 30 years. 

Workshops will be held throughout SCAG’s six-county region to provide a variety of opportunities to connect with us. We expect to add more events soon, so please look out for updates. 

Find a workshop or pop-up event near you at scag.ca.gov/connect-socal-workshops

In addition to the workshops and pop-ups, you can share your thoughts on important issues affecting our region by taking a short survey

Regional Conference & General Assembly Program Preview  

SCAG’s 58th annual Regional Conference & General Assembly is just around the corner on May 4-5.  

Register by Monday, May 1 to secure your spot! The event is free for elected officials and city managers in the region.   

The event will feature a slate of high-quality presentations and panels on planning and implementing mobility hubs; accelerating clean transportation in Southern California; job growth in an inclusive economy; housing in the region; and Connect SoCal – the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. There will also be a session showcasing outstanding student work, bringing in bright minds from across the region to share innovative research and planning projects.  

The event will also feature the 2023 SCAG Sustainability Awards, the region’s highest honors for projects that promote and improve mobility, livability, prosperity and sustainability in Southern California. 

For more information about the event, visit scag.ca.gov/ga2023

Applications Now Open for SoCal Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee 

SCAG invites those interested in joining the SoCal Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to apply now through April 17. 

The Regional Council approved the Regional Advanced Mitigation Planning (RAMP) Policy Framework on Feb. 2. RAMP is a process to expedite project delivery by planning for environmental mitigation to reduce environmental impacts earlier in the planning process and at a wider scale. The RAMP Policy Framework directed the creation of the TAC to ensure the future SoCal Greenprint tool is aligned with policy objectives identified in the framework.  

Membership of the TAC is designed to represent expected primary user groups of the SoCal Greenprint tool and government agencies who may participate in RAMP. The TAC will be open to the public and seek input from the development community, non-governmental conservation groups, regional conservation agencies, researchers and other stakeholders.    

Interested applicants are encouraged to fill out the application form, by April 17.  

Regional Council Approves Expedited Programing for Carbon Reduction Program 

The Regional Council today approved the advance programming of the Fiscal Year 2022 Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) funding in response to the limited time available to spend the funds.   

The CRP is a new program established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides funding for transportation projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. For Fiscal Year 2022, the first year of available funding, the SCAG region’s share is $33.6 million. SCAG is responsible for selecting projects in the region to be funded by CRP dollars.  

SCAG worked closely with county transportation commissions in the region to propose a series of projects that reduce carbon emissions, align with regional transportation goals and objectives, and can be delivered quickly to meet federal timelines.

Regional Council Approves SCAG’s Digital Action Plan  

The Regional Council today approved the Digital Action Plan, which outlines SCAG’s actions to provide digital accessibility and foster an equitable, prosperous and resilient region for all residents. 

The growth of the SCAG region has been significantly impacted by technological advancements that revolutionized the way people access information. Despite the benefits of new technologies, a significant population in the region does not have access to these advancements. These disparities became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when impacted communities faced disadvantages accessing services, such as healthcare, food, telework and e-learning. These disparities will widen as our reliance on technology increases. 

The Digital Action Plan outlines clear goals and actions on this issue, and is driven by SCAG’s commitment to equity, innovation and resilience. With faster broadband speeds and enhanced devices becoming more critical post-COVID-19, the plan aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure all residents in the region have access to the digital world. 

Update on SCAG’s 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.  

The corrective 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 county transportation commissions, SCAG developed a Compliance Action Plan – a high-level framework for how the region plans to address this federal corrective action.  

After the Regional Council’s approval in February, SCAG formally submitted the Compliance Action Plan to Caltrans, FHWA and FTA. SCAG recently received confirmation that the Compliance Action Plan will address the corrective action from Caltrans and the federal agencies. Following today’s approval, SCAG will continue to develop more detailed STBG-CMAQ program guidelines consistent with the Compliance Action Plan. 

Call for Applications Now Open for Go Human Community Hubs Program  

Applications are open now through April 21 for the Go Human Community Hubs Program! The program awards funding to eligible community organizations to implement local traffic safety and community engagement strategies that leverage community gathering sites or networks. SCAG will award up to $40,000 to 10 selected traffic safety projects. Click here to apply!  

SCAG and Urban Land Institute of Los Angeles to Host Regional Utilities Supporting Housing Industry Forum 

On April 28, SCAG is partnering with PlaceWorks and the Urban Land Institute of Los Angeles to host the Regional Utilities Supporting Housing (RUSH) Industry Forum. The Forum brings together thought leaders from Southern California and across the country for recommendations on transformative investment and regional collaboration to overcome infrastructure obstacles and deliver accelerated housing production – while addressing climate change and historical inequities.  

Funded by REAP 2.0, this forum will guide strategies and potential projects that could be eligible for part of the $35 million in RUSH grant funds to implement basic utility infrastructure needed to support housing in Southern California. 

Click here to register for in-person attendance at the networking breakfast, keynote address, panel presentation and strategy roundtable session. In-person attendance will be limited to 100 people. 

Click here to register for virtual attendance of only the keynote address and panel presentation.   

SCAG Holds Workshops on Development Streamlining Efforts  

SCAG’s Development Streamlining efforts include user-friendly materials and workshops to support local agencies to identify appropriate streamlining tools to help expedite reviews for housing projects.  

The series of virtual workshops kicked off on March 23, with a workshop featuring an overview of Senate Bill 35 and Senate Bill 330 and best practices for each.  

Register for the next virtual workshop on April 13, which will include a brief overview of the Density Bonus Law and Assembly Bill 2345, recent amendments, the difference between incentives/concessions and waivers, and some examples of each.  

Go Human Resources Available to Support National Bike Month  

National Bike Month is recognized in May to encourage more people to bike, celebrate those who do, and help make bicycling safer and more enjoyable. Go Human works towards these goals year-round by making resources available, convening partners, sharing information and centering mobility justice across the region.  

Throughout National Bike Month, Go Human will further amplify its resources and invest in local, community-led safety strategies across the region: 

  • Community Hubs Awardees: SCAG and Go Human anticipate project awards for 10 Community Hub Partners in April and project implementation will launch in May.   
  • May 21 Go Human X CicLAvia: Go Human has partnered up with CicLAvia, and will join the open street event in Watts. Attendees will engage and share input on Connect SoCal and receive free helmets and educational resources.   
  • May 27 Go Human @ the Costa Mesa Bike Festival: Go Human will distribute safety resources including helmets and educational materials in support of the event. 
  • Traffic Safety Resource Distribution: Go Human will continue to make its message-tested and data-informed co-branded traffic safety materials and Kit of Parts Lending Library materials available at no cost to local jurisdictions and community organizations. 

SCAG Awarded $500,000 for Affordable Connectivity Program Outreach  

The Federal Communications Commission recently announced $66 million in outreach grants for projects that expand participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible households a discount on broadband service and connected devices. SCAG will be awarded a minimum of $500,000 of the ACP Outreach Grant Program funds to utilize in helping bridge the digital divide through implementing innovative strategies to reach historically underserved communities across jurisdictions. This grant is aligned with SCAG’s resolution to assist in helping bridge the digital. SCAG will be working with the state, local jurisdictions and stakeholders to boost ACP adoption across the region. 

SCAG’s Economic Roundtable Update – First Quarter, 2023 

Despite showing economic resilience, Southern California is likely to follow the nation into a recession and faces several challenges ahead, including potential new supply chain constraints, labor and equitable growth, according to the latest quarterly update from SCAG’s Economic Roundtable.    

The Roundtable, a consortium of regional economic experts, met in January to update the region’s economic outlook and discuss challenges and opportunities facing the six counties in the SCAG region. These experts’ consensus was that the region and nation continue to face significant economic uncertainty during what has been an uneven post-pandemic recovery.   

Read the First Quarter Economic Roundtable Update to learn more about the conversation on inflation, labor, housing, the logistics sector and more. 

Multiple SCAG Sustainable Communities Projects Completed This Quarter  

SCAG recently completed the Advanced Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Implementation of SCAG’s REAP 2019 grant program, through Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) Call 2, which provided $546,676 in planning assistance to Laguna Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica to develop and augment ADU implementation policies and programs to encourage housing production. The project seeks to improve the accessibility and approachability of the cities’ ADU processes by providing information to homeowners and lower costs through streamlined permitting practices. These cities will be models for best practices related to ADU policy and implementation in the SCAG region.  

SCAG recently completed the Electric Vehicle Charging Station Study partnering with 18 cities to help jurisdictions promote development and deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure to accelerate transportation electrification. The study includes policy guidance around station permitting, outreach materials and findings, EV planning guides for cities and property developers, a regionwide site suitability analysis to target areas for future EV charging infrastructure, and initial conceptual plans for site locations 

The City Council of Cathedral City recently approved their Active Transportation Plan, funded by a $195,000 grant through SCAG’s SCP. This project leveraged community insight to identify bike and pedestrian improvements, and improved wayfinding for future community events. Community engagement included walking tours, online surveys, sidewalk decals and in-person events, including a Go Human demonstration.  

Update on SCAG’s Local Data Exchange 

In March 2022 SCAG began the Local Data Exchange Process for the purposes of providing and receiving planning, land use and growth-related data with our local jurisdictions in preparation for the development Connect SoCal 2024. 

The Local Data Exchange is currently in the follow-up and data confirmation phase. SCAG staff is working to follow up with local jurisdictions to confirm inputs, request clarifying information and secure data verification signatures. To date, SCAG has received inputs from 135 jurisdictions representing more than 66 percent of jurisdictions in the SCAG region. 

Toolbox Tuesday on Planning in Rural Environments  

 SCAG hosted a Toolbox Tuesday on Planning in Rural Environments on March 28. This session covered strategies to address the unique challenges of planning in rural environments, with a discussion to hear from agencies and organizations actively working to address these challenges. 

SCAG Partners with the San Diego Association of Governments for Housing Policy Forum 

SCAG and the San Diego Association of Governments hosted a virtual Housing Policy Forum on March 15 to explore new innovative housing policies to address the California housing crisis. Presenters and panelists discussed opportunities to adapt innovative social housing policies in a context fit for California and identified steps to bring social housing to the region. The forum also highlighted how Vienna, Austria solved its housing crisis by adopting a social housing model that made the city a global leader in environmental and social sustainability, design and infrastructure. Click here for materials from the forum. 

SCAG Executive Director Presents at Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations Board Meeting 

Executive Director Kome Ajise attended the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) board meeting on March 20. In coordination with Regional Council member and Tribal Representative Andrew Masiel, he presented an update on SCAG’s outreach, housing and planning efforts. Vice Chairman of the Chemehuevi Tribe Brian McDonald also spoke at the meeting and stressed the importance of tribal participation on SCAG committees. 

SCAG Sponsors Annual California Transportation Congressional Reception  

SCAG was pleased to co-sponsor the Annual California Transportation Congressional Reception on March 28, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The annual event brought together California transportation leaders and stakeholders, including 42 transportation agencies from throughout the state, to network with Congressional members and staff.  The guest of honor this year was Former Speaker of the House and the Dean of the California Delegation, Nancy Pelosi. 

SCAG Meets with Senator Susan Rubio 

SCAG met with Senator Susan Rubio on March 8 to give an update on the $3.5 million grant SCAG received in 2021 to implement the Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy, which she championed. 

SCAG staff updated Senator Rubio on progress implementing the Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy. The presentation outlined work SCAG completed and is planning, and several core recommendations in the strategy centered around: supporting expansion of the quantity, and access to, middle-wage jobs; strengthening supply chains and access to contracting opportunities; construction apprenticeships and training; providing regional data; and addressing human capital needs. 

Senator Rubio was pleased with SCAG’s progress and expressed her desire to continue supporting SCAG’s continued work on the Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy.  

SCAG Participates in Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee Broadband Oversight Hearing 

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise participated in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee broadband oversight hearing on March 7. He provided updates on SCAG’s broadband efforts and priorities, including ensuring equitable distribution of funding, and difficulties smaller jurisdictions have competing for funds. Additional speakers included representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California Department of Technology, California Public Utilities Commission, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and Rural County Representatives of California. 

Regional Council and Policy Committee Members Tour Palm Desert and Orange County 

SCAG hosted Regional Council members in Coachella Valley for a mobile tour on March 10.  

The group met with Cal State San Bernardino’s (CSU-SB) Vice President Robert Nava and CSU-SB Palm Desert Campus Dean Jake Zhu. They also toured the CV-Link and San Pablo Avenue active transportation improvement projects in Palm Desert, which originated from a Go Human demonstration project. Additionally, SunLine Transit hosted the delegation at their hydrogen fuel processing facility to highlight the agency’s industry leading advancements in clean fleet deployments. The day concluded with a tour of Coachella Valley Water District Water Control Room as well as some of their water recycling and storage facilities. 

On April 3, SCAG Regional Council and Policy Committee members took a tour of Impact Housing’s modular manufacturing site in Yorba Linda. SCAG’s Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy recommends expanding homeownership to lower income communities through nontraditional approaches, such as modular housing. The tour showed members the process of modular housing and its potential for increasing housing supply. 

SCAG Attends California Transportation Commission Meeting in Los Angeles  

Executive Director Kome Ajise presented at the California Transportation Commission meeting in Los Angeles on March 22. He talked about SCAG’s work, regional equity initiatives and efforts to improve the everyday lives of Southern Californians. Several commissioners asked follow-up questions regarding equity in transportation, housing and across diverse communities. Following the meeting, Mobility 21 hosted a reception honoring the California Transportation Commission, where Director Ajise gave the welcoming remarks. 

SCAG Attends League of California Cities Riverside County Division Training  

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise, along with leadership from the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, Riverside Transit Agency, Sunline Transit, Riverside County Transportation Commission, Western Riverside Council of Governments and the Local Agency Formation Commission – Riverside County, presented on their organizational role and purpose to newly elected officials in Riverside County on March 3. SCAG Policy Committee member Michael Vargas was moderator for the training. Regional Council member Linda Krupa and Policy Committee member Joseph Morabito participated in the training.  

SCAG Participates in the California Association of Councils of Governments Regional Leadership Forum 

On March 5 -7, SCAG leadership participated in the California Association of Councils of Governments (CALCOG) Regional Leadership Forum. To kick-off the forum, SCAG Regional Council President Jan Harnik and Executive Director Kome Ajise attended a special session led by Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Freidman. The next day, President Harnik participated on a panel about regional collaboration for change and Director Ajise spoke on a panel to discuss REAP funds. On the third and final day, President Harnik and SCAG Planning Director Sarah Jepson presented on a panel centered around broadband. The CALCOG forum facilitated discussions among SCAG and other regional and policy leaders on how California can remain resilient and adaptable to change, and regional governments’ critical role in driving solutions to regional challenges. 

Executive Director's Report Footer Banner