Executive Director’s Monthly Report, February 2024


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Proposed State Budget Would Cut Funding for Regional Early Action Planning Grant Program 

The proposed budget announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on Jan. 16 includes $1.2 billion in cuts to funding for housing programs, including $300 million for the Regional Early Action Planning program of 2021 (REAP 2.0). SCAG released a statement urging the governor to reconsider these funding cuts, which would severely limit cities’ and counties’ ability to address the state’s housing affordability crisis. In the past year, SCAG has awarded more than $192 million in REAP 2.0 funding across the six-county region to projects designed to thoughtfully, strategically and sustainably accelerate housing production. These projects play a critical role in increasing housing supply and providing more affordable housing options.  

Reducing or eliminating future funding will have a devastating effect for cities and counties across Southern California and the entire state. SCAG is working to assess the specific impacts of the proposed cuts and will partner with key stakeholders to use the state budget approval process to advocate for the protection of critical housing programs funded by REAP 2.0.  

Draft Connect SoCal 2024 and the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report Comment Period Closed, Upcoming Report at Joint Policy Committee 

The public comment period for the draft Connect SoCal Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) and the Connect SoCal 2024 Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) ran from Nov. 2, 2023, to Jan. 12, 2024, and Nov. 9, 2023, to Jan. 12, 2024, respectively. During the public review and comment periods, SCAG hosted 15 elected official briefings and three public hearings on the draft plan. SCAG received 47 comment letters on Connect SoCal 2024 and 32 comment letters on the Draft PEIR. SCAG staff will now review, consider and catalog all comments received. SCAG staff will present a summary of the comments received on both documents at a Joint Policy Committee meeting on March 7. A Public Participation and Consultation Technical Report will document comments and responses for the final Connect SoCal 2024.  The Final PEIR will present and respond to comments on the Draft PEIR. The Regional Council is set to consider certification of the Final PEIR and adoption of the final plan, including the associated final transportation conformity analysis, in April 2024.    

Visit the Connect SoCal website to read the draft RTP/SCS, learn more and sign up to receive updates. For more information on the PEIR, please visit the PEIR website.   

2024 Scholarship Program Call for Applications  

Applications for the 2024 SCAG Scholarship Program are now open. The program offers a $4,000 scholarship for up to 9 high school or community college students from the SCAG region interested in pursuing planning or public service‐related careers. Applications are due electronically on March 22. More information is available is available on the SCAG website.

SCAG Now Accepting Student Showcase Applications 

Applications are now open for SCAG’s annual Student Showcase poster and StoryMap competition. The Student Showcase challenges students to tell a story, provide insight, showcase plans and projects, and illustrate the possibilities of data and highlight the usefulness of open data at the regional level. SCAG is proud to invite student participants to conceptualize, create and submit posters and ArcGIS StoryMaps. The deadline is Feb. 20 for abstracts and Mar. 16 for final projects.  

Students whose projects are selected will receive cash prizes and be invited to attend SCAG’s Regional Conference & General Assembly as SCAG Conference Fellows, with complimentary hotel accommodation and conference admission on May 2-3. At the conference, student fellows will present their posters and StoryMaps to elected officials and industry leaders from across Southern California. For guidelines and additional information or to apply, visit the Student Showcase website

Call for Applications: Surface Transportation Block Grant, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, Carbon Reduction Program 

SCAG is now accepting project nominations through March 29 for the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) and Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) for the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2023 through FFY 2026. County transportation commissions are coordinating with local agencies and other eligible entities within their counties to prioritize and submit project nominations. Local agencies should confer with their respective county transportation commissions for county-specific application deadlines.  

For more information on project eligibility, visit SCAG’s STBG/CMAQ and CRP websites.   

Call for Applications: Go Human Community Streets Grants Program 

On Jan. 9, SCAG Go Human opened the Call for Applications for the 2024 Go Human Community Streets Grant Program. With funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the Community Streets Program provides grant funding to eligible community organizations to implement local traffic safety strategies through community engagement activities. The program will award approximately 12 eligible applicants up to $30,000 in grant funding to implement traffic safety projects in the SCAG region. Community-based organizations, nonprofits and social enterprises are eligible to apply. SCAG staff held office hours and an application webinar (available on YouTube) for interested applicants. The Call for Applications closes Friday, Feb. 9. To learn more about the program, review the Program Guidelines

Greenprint Data Standards Move Forward 

At its Jan. 4 meeting, the SCAG Energy and Environment Committee advanced proposed data standards for the SoCal Greenprint data and mapping tool to the Regional Council with a recommendation to adopt. The Regional Council adopted the data standards at its February 1 meeting. 

The Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee convened over the second half of 2023 to inform the creation of data standards that define parameters for identifying, evaluating, maintaining, updating and communicating the purpose of data in SoCal Greenprint data and mapping tool. Now adopted by the SCAG Regional Council, the data standards will govern the development and ongoing use of the Greenprint tool as it moves forward. 

SCAG Submits 2023 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Annual Obligation Report 

On Jan. 10, SCAG staff completed the submittal of 34 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) project obligation updates for federal fiscal year 2023 (FFY23) with information reviewed and confirmed by staff from each of the region’s county transportation commissions. Last quarter, SCAG staff coordinated a review of scopes and budgets with each of the county transportation commissions and Caltrans to ensure consistency with the Federal Transportation Improvement Program list and to provide accurate reporting to the CMAQ Project Tracking System. In the coming months, Caltrans will review the FFY23 CMAQ obligation submissions and, upon approval, route to the Federal Highway Administration for final approval. 

Toolbox Tuesday Highlights SCAG’s ‘Inclusive Contracting Toolkit’ 

The first Toolbox Tuesday session of 2024 was held on Jan. 23, highlighting SCAG’s newly published “Inclusive Contracting Toolkit.” By implementing inclusive contracting practices and considerations, public and private institutions can level the playing field and support economic mobility among historically disadvantaged businesses, ultimately generating wealth for historically marginalized populations, strengthening the region’s economic resilience and delivering cost-savings. The “Inclusive Contracting Toolkit” provides a step-by-step guide to actionable strategies and best practices from across the Southern California region (and beyond). To show how agencies can implement the “Inclusive Contracting Toolkit” to support the growth of small businesses, the session featured external speakers Jill Bengochea (HR&A), Audrey Chang (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles), Gloria Burton (Southern California Edison), Maria Agrusa (Orange County Procurement) and Jennifer Kropke (Port of Long Beach). 

Presidential Priorities Discussion: Transit Recovery in Southern California 

The Feb. 1 Regional Council meeting featured a panel discussion on the trajectory of public transit in Southern California as transit operators work to recover ridership lost during and after the pandemic. Participants included David Aguirre, executive director of the Imperial County Transportation Commission; Darren Kettle, chief executive officer for Metrolink; Michael Pimentel, executive director for the California Transit Association; and Seleta Reynolds, chief innovation officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Topics included methods for integrating transit service across systems and modes, how and where to strategically develop infrastructure to grow ridership, and which policies can also help grow and maintain ridership. The presentation will be available on the Regional Council video archive

SCAG Mobile Workshop Tours the Alameda Corridor, Long Beach Affordable Housing Projects 

SCAG Regional Council President Art Brown led a delegation for a tour in Long Beach on Jan. 19. Regional Council members Marshall Goodman, Frank Yokoyama, Cindy Allen, Suely Saro and Margaret Clark, as well as policy member Dan Kalmick, joined the delegation. 

The SCAG region includes the nation’s largest trade gateway, with the Alameda Corridor freight expressway as a critical departure point to the rest of the continent. Touring the Alameda Corridor expressway and hearing from goods movement industry stakeholders at the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority, the SCAG delegation of SCAG members learned about the ever-increasing volatility and complexity of the supply chain, as well as its role in transportation infrastructure and the larger economy. The mobile workshop concluded with a guided tour of several award-winning affordable housing projects that would benefit low-income seniors, formerly unhoused veterans and families in need of affordable housing, led by representatives from the Long Beach Housing Community Development Department. 

Call for Candidates for Officers 

SCAG is now accepting applications for officer positions for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. The SCAG clerk sent an email to Regional Council members on Jan. 16 with instructions for how to apply. If you did not receive the email, please let us know so we can send another copy. Applications are due to SCAG no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15. After reviewing applications, the Nomination Committee will forward its recommendations for consideration at the April 4 Regional Council meeting. 

The Regional Council will present its slate of incoming elected officials on May 2 at the SCAG Regional Conference & General Assembly at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert. 

Appointments to Bylaws and Resolutions Committee, Nominating Committee and Scholarship Committee 

SCAG Regional Council President Art Brown recently appointed members to the Bylaws and Resolution Committee, the Nominating Committee and the Scholarship Committee. Thank you to all these appointees for their service on these committees. 

Bylaws and Resolutions Committee 

  • Hon. Cindy Allen, Chair (Long Beach/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Hon. Frank Yokoyama (Cerritos/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Hon. Gil Rebollar (Brawley/ Imperial County) 
  • Sup. Luis Plancarte (Imperial County) 
  • Hon. Marty Simonoff (Brea/ Orange County) 
  • Hon. Art Brown (Buena Park/ Orange County) 
  • Hon. Rocky Rhodes (Simi Valley/ Ventura County) 
  • Hon. Jenny Crosswhite (Santa Paula/ Ventura County) 
  • Hon. Damon L. Alexander (City of San Bernardino/ San Bernardino County) 
  • Sup. Curt Hagman (San Bernardino County) 
  • Hon. Jan C. Harnik (RCTC/ Riverside County) 
  • Hon. Maricela Nava (Perris/ Riverside County) 

Nominating Committee 

  • Hon. Jan C. Harnik, Chair (RCTC/ Riverside County) 
  • Sup. Luis Plancarte (Imperial County) 
  • Hon. Ali Saleh (Bell/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Hon. Larry McCallon (Air District Representative/ San Bernardino County) 
  • Hon. Jose Luis Solache (Lynwood/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Hon. Marshall Goodman (La Palma/ Orange County) 
  • Sup. Vianey Lopez (Ventura County) 

Scholarship Committee 

  • Hon. Ray Marquez, Chair (Chino Hills/ San Bernardino) 
  • Sup. Luis Plancarte (Imperial County) 
  • Hon. David J. Shapiro (Calabasas/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Hon. Margaret Finlay (Duarte/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Sup. Vianey Lopez (Ventura County) 
  • Hon. Keith Eich (La Cañada Flintridge/ Los Angeles County) 
  • Hon. Kathleen Kelly (Palm Desert/ Riverside County) 
  • Hon. Jan C. Harnik (RCTC/ Riverside County) 
  • Hon. Steve Manos (Lake Elsinore/ Riverside County) 
  • Hon. Andrew Masiel (Tribal Representation) 
  • Hon. Valerie Amezcua (Santa Ana/ Orange County) 

Inland Empire Economic Partnership Recognizes SCAG With ‘2023 Public Agency Award’ 

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise was honored with the 2023 Public Agency Award at the Inland Empire Economic Partnership’s Annual Dinner and Awards Reception earlier this month. SCAG Chief Operating Officer Darin Chidsey, Regional Council Member Karen Spiegel, and policy committee members Thomas Wong and Aquanetta Warren were also in attendance at the reception. 

SCAG Shares Knowledge at the 2024 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting 

Multiple SCAG staff members participated in the 2024 Transportation Research Board 103rd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in early January. The conference gathered national and international attendees to learn and share knowledge on developments in transportation research, innovation, policy and practice. The event featured 6,400 presentations during 650 sessions, workshops and meetings, and more than 400 committee and subcommittee meetings. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg delivered closing remarks for the “Chair’s Plenary Session” and participated in a session titled “New Materials for Infrastructure: Reinventing the Roadway, Runway, and Railway.” 

Annie Nam, SCAG deputy director for transportation planning, presented the draft Connect SoCal 2024 during a session titled “Developing Sustainable Community Strategies for Achieving Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets in California.” Bayarmaa Aleksandr, SCAG principal modeler, spoke on a panel for the “Remote/Hybrid Work, Activity and Travel Patterns, and the Future of Society” session. Sunghi An, SCAG assistant modeler, presented a poster titled “Re-Envisioning the Park-and-Ride Concept for the Automated Vehicle Era with Private-to-Shared Automated Vehicle Transfer Stations.” Tom Vo, SCAG principal regional planner, participated as an appointed member of the “Urban Transportation Data and Information Systems” committee, contributing to a research paper-reviewing process and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group. 

Go Human Partners on Coachella Valley Traffic Safety Demonstration 

On Jan. 27, Alianza Coachella Valley along with the Desert Recreation District used the Go Human “Kit of Parts” to demonstrate temporary traffic safety improvements for the Pathways to a Resilient Salton Sea event at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club in Mecca. More than 100 attendees participated and gave feedback on the improvements showcased at the event. More information about borrowing the Kit of Parts can be found on the SCAG Go Human website.   

March Joint Policy Meetings to Replace Regular Policy Committee Meetings 

SCAG staff will present proposed approaches to revisions for Connect SoCal 2024 and the Draft PEIR to a Joint Policy Committee meeting on March 7. The Joint Policy Committee meeting will be conducted from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., before the Regional Council meeting, replacing the regularly scheduled March policy committee meetings. 

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