State Agency Meetings
On Nov. 8 and 9, SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise and SCAG Planning Director Sarah Jepson traveled to Sacramento for a series of meetings with executive leadership at the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the California Office of Planning Research (OPR), the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
These conversations focused on challenges and opportunities for achieving housing, climate and safety goals in Southern California. There were discussions on the role SCAG can play in supporting local implementation of state policies, including through the new programs SCAG is proposing to fund in its REAP 2 application. The REAP 2 program supports transformative housing and mobility planning and implementation activities to promote infill housing, reduce VMT and affirmatively furthering fair housing.
Connect SoCal Committee Updates
SCAG’s Connect SoCal subcommittees have been diving deeper into key topic areas to develop recommendations for the next update of the plan. In November, these three policy subcommittees — Next Generation Infrastructure, Resilience & Conservation, Racial Equity & Regional Planning — met for the third time. The meetings have included level-setting presentations, panels of outside experts and facilitated discussions with the members.
The subcommittees next and final meeting will be in January, where they will review white papers and recommendations to be submitted to the SCAG Regional Council in March.
These meetings are open to the public. The agendas and meeting materials can be found on SCAG’s website.
The Draft Regional Advanced Mitigation Planning (RAMP) Framework was unanimously accepted by the RAMP-ATG during its last meeting on Nov. 16. This came after extensive outreach with public sector stakeholders, as well as the business and environmental communities. It will now be forwarded to SCAG’s Energy and Environment Committee and Regional Council for action early next year. The RAMP Framework will also be shared with the Community Economic and Human Development, and Transportation Committees.
As the RAMP policy framework is finalized, we will revisit efforts to develop a tool to help stakeholders make early and informed decisions about infrastructure, growth and conservation, and mitigate the environmental impacts of Connect SoCal.
The current contract with the Nature Conservancy has expired, and staff will initiate a competitive procurement process for a consultant to facilitate the Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee and complete the planned Greenprint tool in alignment with the RAMP Policy Framework.
Housing & Economic Empowerment Program Updates
As part of its efforts to assist jurisdictions in accelerating housing production, SCAG has prepared a series of Development Streamlining guidance materials, covering a combination of streamlining options or exemptions under CEQA and other state laws. The guidance materials are now available to view online and a series of virtual workshops and office hours are planned for Spring 2023.
In November, SCAG also hosted a housing policy forum, covering the latest information on state housing policy initiatives, including an overview of the 2022-2023 state budget, and key state bills and legislative themes. The session was attended by more than 200 people and featured information about funding and legislative opportunities that can help in meeting local and regional housing needs. A recording of the session can be found on SCAG’s housing web page.
Strategic Plan Process Update
Continuing the process to update the agency’s strategic plan, SCAG staff have kicked off the stakeholder outreach phase, connecting with partners from Federal, State, Regional and Local entities. Staff will also be meeting with representatives of the GLUE Council, COG Directors and Tribal Government chairs, as well as local non-profits and housing agencies.
Events and Appearances
Throughout the past month SCAG executive and staff have been out in the region making connections and furthering the agency’s agenda. We met with VCTC to discuss the REAP CTC Partnership Program, participated in a discussion at CoMotion LA on creating public-private partnerships to facilitate more sustainable communities, presented a SCAG-sponsored scholarship at the WTS LA annual scholarship dinner, spoke on a panel hosted by RAND on leveraging investments around the LA 28 Olympics to benefit underserved communities and attended the Ontario International State of the Airport, which focused on the continued growth of that significant sector of the SCAG Region. Housing staff shared their expertise in presentations to Leadership Today and HomeAid Orange County, we had a speaker at the Eye on DEI event hosted by the Orange County PRSA and our Planning Director presented at the annual California Transportation Association conference, hosted this year by Omnitrans and held in Ontario.