Executive Director’s Monthly Report, April 2024


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Connect SoCal 2024 Approved 


The formal adoption of Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) by SCAG’s Regional Council marks a significant milestone, putting forward a long-term vision for the future that balances mobility and housing needs with economic, environmental and public health goals over the next 25 years. 

If fully implemented, Connect SoCal 2024 would reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and improve the region’s long-term economic viability through more than $751 billion in transportation investments and a more sustainable regional development pattern. Of the investments identified in the plan, $303 billion is specific to transit projects and operations, $75 billion to state highway operations and maintenance, $62 billion to goods movement and $38 billion to active transportation. 

Unique to this plan cycle, SCAG developed a set of Regional Planning Policies to guide decision-making in the region toward integrated land use and transportation planning and other goals in the Connect SoCal 2024 vision. Twenty-two policies—in areas such as complete streets, housing the region, air quality and workforce development—are included in the plan, created with direction from SCAG’s Regional Council, policy committees and special subcommittees. The plan also includes a detailed project list, and strategic investments to bridge local plans with overarching performance targets and goals.  

The Regional Council also certified the Final Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) on April 4. SCAG, as the Lead Agency, prepares a PEIR for the RTP/SCS in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The PEIR is a first-tier, programmatic document that provides a region-wide assessment of potential environmental impacts of Connect SoCal 2024 while complying with the requirements of the CEQA. Pursuant to CEQA, the PEIR considers regional planning and implementation strategies prior to application of CEQA mitigation measures that can avoid or reduce significant adverse environmental impacts of Connect SoCal 2024 and discusses two book-end alternatives that could feasibly avoid or substantially lessen any significant adverse environmental impacts of the plan while attaining most of the basic plan objectives. To view the certified PEIR for Connect SoCal 2024, visit the PEIR website.  

Stakeholder feedback and public consultation for both documents spanned two years, involving thousands of individual comments, hundreds of meetings and dozens of formal comment letters. 

As Connect SoCal 2024 work transitions to implementation, SCAG emphasizes the importance of collaboration at all levels to realize the plan’s transformative potential. From here, SCAG will pursue implementation work through collaboration and policy leadership; federal funding administration; data collection, analysis, and research; and local technical assistance resources. Visit the Connect SoCal 2024 website to subscribe to get involved in implementation and receive progress updates.  

SCAG Responds to U.S. EPA Proposed Disapproval of AQMD Air Quality Plan 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently proposed a rejection of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (AQMD) 2019 Contingency Measure Plan for the 1997 Federal Ozone Standard. In the past month, SCAG and the county transportation commissions in the region prepared and submitted a joint letter outlining the significant regional implications of this potential disapproval. The letter recommends that the U.S. EPA approve the air plan rather than proceeding with the proposed disapproval. As an alternative, the letter proposes a conditional or partial approval that supports meaningful partnerships and provides a practical pathway to resolve the underlying issues and to avoid highway sanctions.   

If the issues raised by the U.S. EPA are not addressed within the 24-month period, a highway sanction and a federal air plan would be imposed in the South Coast Air Basin, which covers all of Orange County and the urbanized areas of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. A highway sanction would prevent impacted highway capacity projects from receiving federal approval or funding. The U.S. EPA must finalize its action by July 1. 

SCAG staff at all levels are proactively addressing the proposed disapproval, but there are no easy solutions to resolve the underlying air plan issues and lift the highway sanction once imposed. SCAG will continue to proactively monitor, evaluate and consult with regional partners and report future developments to the Regional Council.  

Panel Highlights for the Regional Conference and General Assembly 

There’s still time to register for SCAG’s 59th Annual Regional Conference and General Assembly at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert from May 2-3. 


The Regional Conference and General Assembly is a unique opportunity to gather with regional elected officials, and business and community leaders from across the region for informative discussions on work to address the region’s transportation and housing challenges and improve quality of life for everyone in Southern California.  

The full agenda for the event is now available online, including panels focused on implementing the vision in the Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy: 

  • Transit Recovery and Beyond: Means, Methods and Better Mousetraps 
  • Running on Empty: Zero Emissions Vehicles and Transportation Funding 
  • Investing in Economic Resilience 
  • Creating Complete Communities 

Online registration ends on April 26. 

Development Streamlining Information Session  

SCAG hosted a virtual information session for member agencies and councils of governments as part of its Development Streamlining work on Feb. 29. The information session offered guidance and resources to support local jurisdictions in streamlining their CEQA and general administrative review processes. The session provided an overview of the Development Streamlining efforts to date, including topics such as Senate Bills 35 and 330 and CEQA streamlining. Access to the guidance materials, recorded workshops and additional details about the Development Streamlining project are available on the SCAG website

Regional Council Adopts Southern California Clean Cities Coalition Strategic Plan  

The completion of SCAG’s inaugural Clean Cities Coalition Strategic Plan marks a pivotal step in the SCAG Clean Cities Coalition’s mission to foster the transition toward cleaner fuels and vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. Introduced in fiscal year 2024 as part of the coalition’s annual work with the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE), this strategic plan leverages current and ongoing SCAG initiatives and aligns regional, state and federal objectives. The strategic plan also addresses the barriers to electrification of the transportation sector, such as cost and infrastructure, and outlines activities to shift the region to cleaner transportation. The strategic plan is intended to integrate with Connect SoCal 2024 regional priorities and strategies.  

By approving the strategic plan on April 4, the SCAG Regional Council provides the SCAG region continued eligibility for exclusive U.S. DOE funding. For the next update to this plan, SCAG staff are planning to enhance stakeholder engagement through expanded participation and strengthened partnerships, reinforcing the coalition’s commitment to dynamic growth and sustainable progress. 

Regional Council Approves Regional Guidelines for the 2025 Active Transportation Program 

At its April 2024 meeting, SCAG’s Regional Council approved Regional Guidelines for the 2025 Regional Active Transportation Program (ATP). The guidelines outline the process by which SCAG, in collaboration with the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and the six county transportation commissions within the SCAG region, will recommend funding awards for the 2025 Regional ATP, which will have an estimated $118 million in available funding.  

In addition to considering applications not funded in the statewide competition, SCAG’s Regional ATP includes more than $10 million for a supplemental call for projects administered through SCAG’s Sustainable Communities Program – Active Transportation & Safety component (SCP-ATS). The SCP-ATS aims to align technical assistance with regional planning priorities and opportunities outlined in Connect SoCal 2024. SCAG staff anticipate releasing the SCP-ATS call for projects this summer.  

SCAG staff will continue to work with the region’s county transportation commissions, the CTC, Caltrans and other partners to provide outreach to ensure eligible applicants are aware of ATP funding opportunities and offer technical assistance, resources and support to facilitate regional competitiveness. More details will be shared on the SCAG website as it becomes available. 

Advocating for Southern California in Sacramento 

Regional Council President Art Brown led a delegation of SCAG leaders to Sacramento for the agency’s annual Sacramento Summit on March 19-20. The trip focused on three important goals: 1) protecting the Regional Early Action Planning 2.0 grant program from proposed budget cuts; 2) supporting Assembly Bill 2485, authored by Assemblymember Juan Carrillo (D-Palmdale) that would increase transparency and accuracy Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) determination process; and 3) honoring promises made to the Active Transportation Program and Infill Infrastructure Grant program that fund local infrastructure needs that support regional goals related to climate, housing and roadway safety. 

Also part of the delegation were First Vice President Curt Hagman (County of San Bernardino); Second Vice President Cindy Allen (Long Beach); Immediate Past President Jan Harnik (Riverside County Transportation Commission); Legislative/Communications and Membership Committee Chair Patricia Lock Dawson (Riverside) and Vice Chair Jose Luis Solache (Lynwood); Community, Economic, and Human Development Committee Chair Frank Yokoyama (Cerritos); and Regional Council members Wendy Bucknum (Mission Viejo), Jenny Crosswhite (Santa Paula), Clint Lorimore (Eastvale) and Ray Marquez (Chino Hills). Tracy Hernandez, founding chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, represented the GLUE Council. SCAG staff—including Executive Director Kome Ajise, Chief Operating Officer Darin Chidsey, Chief Planning Officer Sarah Jepson and Chief Government and Public Affairs Officer Javiera Cartagena—also attended the summit. 

Federal Communications Commission to End the Affordable Connectivity Program 

In March 2023, SCAG received a $500,000 grant from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promote the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) across the region. The ACP provided a discount of up to $30 per month toward the cost of internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. In March 2024, The FCC issued a public notice stating that, due to the lack of additional funding for the ACP, April 2024 will be the last fully funded month of the benefit. Partial reimbursements will be available in May 2024. SCAG staff have begun the process of closing out the outreach grant with guidance from FCC staff. The FCC’s March 4 notice announcing the wind-down is available online

Annual Regional Early Action Planning Report Submitted   

On April 1, SCAG submitted its annual report detailing the use of Regional Early Action Planning (REAP 1.0) funds to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The report includes project updates, associated accomplishments and best practices, the status of activities and a summary of housing production indicators.  

SCAG was awarded $47 million in REAP 1.0 funding in 2019 to increase housing supply, accelerate housing production and support local jurisdictions during the 6th cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment process. All REAP 1.0 programs and projects are expected to conclude by June 30 and a final report will be submitted to HCD. SCAG will also share project tools and resources along with outcomes with its members and the public after June 30. 

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