SCAG Adopts Carbon Reduction Program Guidelines
The SCAG Executive/Administration Committee approved guidelines for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) on Dec. 6, 2023. SCAG will be initiating a combined solicitation for project nominations for the CRP along with the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program—all FHWA funding programs—in Jan. 2024. Eligible entities should begin discussing potential nominations with their respective county transportation commission as soon as possible.
Connect SoCal 2024 Elected Official Briefings Update
The public comment periods for the draft Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy and the Connect SoCal 2024 Draft Program Environmental Impact Report end on Jan. 12, 2024. During this time, SCAG will host three public hearings, on Dec. 4, 5 and 8, in person at SCAG offices or online through Zoom.
As part of the public comment period, SCAG has also hosted 14 elected official briefings in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. At these briefings, SCAG leadership shared and discussed the details of the draft Connect SoCal 2024 plan, focusing on how to implement the plan’s vision for a more resilient and equitable future. Following SCAG presentations, attendees asked questions about projects in their respective counties and provided feedback on the draft Connect SoCal 2024 plan.
For more plan updates, including future hearing dates, please visit ConnectSoCal.org, or email ConnectSoCal@scag.ca.gov with questions. For more information on the 2024 PEIR, including how to submit comments, please visit scag.ca.gov/peir or email ConnectSoCalPEIR@scag.ca.gov.
Toolbox Tuesdays Housing Series Continues in December
This fall, SCAG hosted a two-part Toolbox Tuesday Housing Series to introduce technology, tools and resources to simplify and accelerate demographic and site selection analysis to increase equitable housing access.
In part one, held in October, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) presented the Annual Progress Report Dashboard Tool, which allows jurisdictions to look up housing needs and trends in their area. HCD also showcased the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Data Viewer Tool to assist with fair housing analyses, site selection and program development to satisfy housing element requirements.
In November, part two focused on tools jurisdictions can use to identify suitable sites for housing development, such as SCAG’s Regional Data Platform Housing Element Parcel (HELPR). HELPR allows jurisdictions to input several variables best suited for housing development and determine how that development may qualify for streamlining under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). SCAG is also working on guidance materials for available development streamlining options, which, when combined with information about recent CEQA legislation, can assist jurisdictions in identifying opportunities to accelerate housing production.
Recordings from both sessions can be found on the Toolbox Tuesday Online Training Materials webpage.
Funding Approved for Highways to Boulevards Regional Study
On Nov. 2, the SCAG Regional Council authorized staff to accept Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending grant funds to support SCAG’s Highways to Boulevards Regional Study. The study will identify opportunities to remove, retrofit or mitigate transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, such as highways or railways.
The study furthers the vision in Connect SoCal 2024 for a more resilient and equitable future. SCAG will engage stakeholders from across the region through Apr. 2025. Through this study, SCAG will support local jurisdictions by positioning the region to compete for Federal Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant funds and developing a best practices guide. More information about the study is available on the SCAG website.
SCAG and Go Human Participate in the California Traffic Safety Summit
SCAG Go Human participated in the California Traffic Safety Summit on Nov. 7 and 8, hosted by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and American Automobile Association (AAA). The summit theme, “Responding to the Crisis Together: Prioritizing Safety and Achieving Equitable Outcomes,” affirmed the importance of prioritizing safety initiatives and working with communities to prevent crashes. SCAG’s Chief Planning Officer, Sarah Jepson, presented on the panel “Combatting the Pedestrian Safety Crisis,” highlighting SCAG’s role as a leader, convener and data hub in the state’s traffic safety efforts.
SCAG and OTS will continue to collaborate in 2024 through a new round of OTS-funded traffic safety activities as recently announced.
SCAG Awarded Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting
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 Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government agency and its management.
SCAG Executive Director Recognized by WTS-LA
The Women’s Transportation Seminar – Los Angeles Chapter (WTS-LA) recently recognized SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise with the prestigious Honorable Ray LaHood Award, named after the former secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. WTS created the Honorable Ray LaHood Award to recognize male transportation leaders who have exemplified the WTS mission by contributing to the advancement of women and minorities in the transportation sector.
The Honorable Ray LaHood award was presented to Kome Ajise during the 2023 WTS-LA Awards and Scholarship Gala on Nov. 14, which paid tribute to industry leaders and innovators and celebrated the distribution of scholarship funds to young women pursuing transportation-related careers.
SCAG Attends Local Government Roundtable Hosted by the Governor’s Office and Planning and Research and the California Association of Councils of Government
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, along with the California Association of Governments, hosted a distinguished government roundtable titled “A Perspective from the Middle” on Nov. 6. SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise represented the four major metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) at the roundtable, with remarks highlighting challenges and opportunities facing the delivery of infrastructure goals and community planning.
He also provided an overview of the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grants and SCAG’s ability to support local planning activities through the Connect SoCal Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. SCAG’s REAP 1.0 program to help jurisdictions meet their housing need through planning and other tools that supported 100 projects with $47 million. REAP 2.0 is underway, designed to reinvest 80% of SCAG’s $246 million suballocation into local communities and subregions through partner-led projects.
Kome was joined by other MPO partners, including James Corless, executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments; Alix Bockelman, chief deputy executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; and Coleen Clementson, deputy CEO for the San Diego Association of Governments.
SCAG Shares Knowledge at Cal Poly Pomona’s Geographic Information System Day
SCAG staff attended and participated in the “Cal Poly Pomona GIS Day: Bridges to the Future” event on Nov. 15, organized by the Center for Geographic Information Science Research in the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. SCAG Principal Senior Planner Tom Vo, an alumnus of Cal Poly Pomona, shared about his professional experience with GIS, including how it influenced his career and work in regional planning, and provide guidance for students interested in pursuing careers in the field. The event hosted 150 people throughout the day.