Executive Director’s Monthly Report, July 2024


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Final State Budget Secures $480 Million for REAP 2.0 Program; Restores More Funding

The California State Legislature has approved the Budget Act of 2024, taking a major step forward in addressing the housing crisis by restoring funding to the Regional Early Action Planning Grants (REAP 2.0) program and other funding programs crucial to Southern California’s collective goals.

 The state budget approved by the legislature on Wednesday and signed by Gov. Newsom on Saturday retains $560 million for REAP 2.0, $480 million of which is dedicated to the formula component for metropolitan planning organizations, just five weeks after the governor’s May budget revision proposed $300 million funding reduction for the program

Before the budget cuts first proposed in January, SCAG had awarded more than $192 million in REAP 2.0 funds to 100 transformative projects. The restoration of REAP 2.0 funding means restarting these projects, several of which are detailed in the news release highlighting the restoration of REAP 2.0 funds in the state budget.

Transportation Conformity Analyses for Draft 2025 FTIP/Draft Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 Available for Public Comment

As authorized by the SCAG Regional Council, the transportation conformity analyses for the Draft 2025 Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP) and Draft Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 have been released as part of the Draft 2025 FTIP and Draft Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 documents for a 30-day public review period, starting on July 12 and ending on Aug. 12. After the public comment period, SCAG staff will present a summary of transportation conformity-related comments to the Energy and Environment Committee in September and request Regional Council adoption of the transportation conformity analyses and determinations for the Final 2025 FTIP and Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 in October. The transportation conformity determinations are anticipated to receive final federal approval in mid-December 2024. This federal approval is required for the approximately 2,250 projects in the 2025 FTIP and Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 to proceed toward implementation.

SCAG’s Active Transportation and Safety Call for Projects: $10.4 Million Available

SCAG is releasing the Sustainable Communities Program – Active Transportation and Safety call for projects on July 8. The call for projects will include $10.4 million, funded by state Active Transportation Program Cycle 7 regional funds and a federal Safe Streets and Roads for All grant. Funding will be available for community and area plans, and quick-build projects that encourage active transportation (e.g., walking and biking) and improve roadway safety. Funded projects will be expected to support the implementation of Connect SoCal 2024 strategies.

Details about program goals, eligibility and project types can be found in the Program Guidelines. SCAG will hold workshops on Thursday, July 25 and Wednesday, Aug. 7 and offering office hours during the application period. Online applications will be due by Sept. 27. SCAG’s Regional Council will consider the approval of application rankings in April 2025, with final award announcements anticipated in June 2025. Please contact Rachel Om at om@scag.ca.gov for more information.

SCAG Publishes ‘Equity Resources for Action Toolbox’

The “Equity Resources for Action Toolbox” (ERA Toolbox) is a compilation of practices, policies and strategies from local agencies and groups to address existing and potential inequitable outcomes for communities and census tracts with high concentrations of low-income populations and people of color. The ERA Toolbox will help local jurisdictions and community members advocate for and apply equitable methods in policies, projects, and program development and implementation. The toolbox, formerly called the Environmental Justice Toolbox, draws from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research General Plan Guidelines, the SB 1000 Implementation Toolkit developed by California Environmental Justice Alliance and PlaceWorks, and staff research on local and community-based organizations’ efforts.  

All recommendations are optional. Recommendations incorporating or referring to compliance with existing regulations are for informational purposes and do not supersede existing regulations. Please email environmentaljustice@scag.ca.gov to provide feedback or contribute to the toolbox.

Toolbox Tuesday Recap: Developing and Implementing Effective Language Access Strategies

June’s Toolbox Tuesday focused on incorporating language access strategies in local planning to empower non-English speakers to meaningfully engage with public process and access public services. This session reviewed legal obligations to provide language access and essential elements of language access programs, with emphasis on best practices for developing and implementing tailored language access plans. During this session, Laureen Laglagaron from the U.S. Department of Justice, Daniel Trejo from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, Lupita Huerta from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and Ana Vallianatos from SCAG discussed how jurisdictions can implement language access strategies.

Check out the session recording and other materials on the SCAG website.

SCAG GIS Training Services: Getting Started with GIS for Regional and Local Planning – Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties

SCAG, in partnership with Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, hosted a comprehensive GIS training program with local jurisdictions and partners in Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties in June. So far, the GIS training has more than 395 registrations regionwide and beyond.

The training program is tailored for planning professionals, GIS technicians, engineers, management analysts and other professionals in the region. Developed from feedback from SCAG’s Regional Data and Services Experience Survey, this two-and-a-half-day course equips attendees with essential GIS skills, focusing on real-world planning challenges. Trainees will gain hands-on experience with ArcGIS Pro software, learning data capture, analysis, and visualization techniques. These training sessions are eligible for AICP Certification Maintenance credits. To sign up for future GIS training sessions, register online. Contact SCAG at list@scag.ca.gov for additional information.

SCAG Highlights 2028 Games Leadership and Support

The Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Los Angeles in 2028, roughly 1,500 days from now; work will intensify this summer when Paris officially passes Olympic duties to Los Angeles.

The Olympic Games will impact all of Southern California, particularly the region’s transportation networks. Transportation planning is already underway. LA28, a nonprofit organization responsible for delivering the games, is currently working with partners from across the region—e.g., SCAG, Caltrans, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Metrolink, etc.—to implement a comprehensive transportation strategy for the games. With a goal of creating a “car-free” games, partners are engaging around a variety of concepts, including mobility hubs, first/last mile treatments and transportation demand management (TDM), for freight and bus-only lanes. Priorities for 2024 include securing funding for transportation projects to support the games, such as legacy projects that will provide enduring benefits for residents for decades and engage stakeholders from across the region in preparations.

On June 7, Metro held the 2028 Games Regional Transportation Assembly, which brought together 100-plus agencies to discuss planning efforts and opportunities for partnership and engagement. Metro highlighted its Games Mobility Concept Plan, including updates on various workstream efforts (e.g., first/last mile, mobility hubs, supplemental bus system, etc.), and SCAG highlighted its efforts to provide leadership and support for the Games, including funding opportunities (e.g., Sustainable Communities Program – Active Transportation & Safety Call for Projects) and freight TDM planning. Though partners will continue meeting through the summer, Metro intends to reconvene the Regional Transportation Assembly after the Paris Games to review lessons learned and encourage even more collaboration. Please contact Annie Nam at nam@scag.ca.gov for more information.

‘Racial Equity Early Action Plan’ Update

Since adopting the “Racial Equity Early Action Plan” in May 2021, SCAG staff implemented 23 early actions, with another seven still in progress and two early actions in the planning stage.

In July 2020, the Regional Council adopted a resolution affirming its commitment to advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion throughout Southern California. SCAG staff refers to the ‘Racial Equity Early Action Plan’ to guide and sustain SCAG’s regional and organizational leadership in service of equity and social justice since its adoption. SCAG staff remain committed to advancing racial equity in the agency and the region.

As SCAG closes out the “early” phase of SCAG’s racial equity efforts, work will continue to incorporate racial equity throughout all SCAG programs.

SCAG Last Mile Freight Program Update

On June 20, the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) took action on more than $2.6 million in funding for clean freight transportation in the region as part of SCAG’s Last Mile Freight Program (LMFP). First, MSRC approved the reallocation of $1.4 million from canceled projects to New Bern Transport Corporation (a subsidiary of PepsiCo Inc.), allowing New Bern to expand their project in Buena Park from 10 class 8 electric vehicle tractors to 20.

Second, MSRC approved a scope change request by Zeem Solutions to fund the deployment of 42 direct current fast chargers at their Long Beach depot, which will support drayage operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and 42 zero-emission trucks at the company’s depots in Inglewood and Long Beach. The Zeem project involves a reallocation of $1.2 million from canceled projects. SCAG staff worked diligently with both companies, MSRC staff and Regional Councilmember Mark Henderson, representing SCAG on the MSRC, to advocate for these changes and ensure clear environmental and economic benefits for the SCAG region.

The LMFP is implemented by SCAG and funded through a partnership with MSRC. To date, SCAG has awarded $16.5 million under the LMFP to projects focused on the commercial deployment of zero-emission or near-zero emission heavy- and/or medium-duty on-road trucks. Twenty-one of 22 active projects are in various stages of implementation and must be completed before June 2026.

SCAG Advances Regional Transit Priorities

Senate Bill 125 established the Transit Transformation Task Force, led by the California State Transportation Agency, to develop statewide recommendations to grow transit ridership, improve the transit customer experience, and address long-term operational needs. The task force includes 25 members, including a cohort from Southern California –SCAG, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Move LA, Riverside County Transportation Commission, and UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies.

At the June 17 meeting, the task force discussed fare and scheduling coordination between agencies, service improvements to support increasing frequency and reliability, and safety and cleanliness on and around transit. The task force is developing related policy recommendations for a report to the legislature’s appropriate policy and fiscal committees on or before Oct. 31, 2025.

 The task force’s work aligns with Connect SoCal 2024’s vision of a future in which public transit functions as the backbone of the mobility ecosystem, enabling seamless and efficient travel without owning an automobile. Frequent, reliable and convenient transit is vital for advancing the state and region’s vision of more livable and equitable communities. The task force will next meet at the SCAG offices on Aug. 29.  Please contact Priscilla Freduah-Agyemang at agyemang@scag.ca.gov for more information.

Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva Attends the June LCMC

SCAG’s Legislative/Communications and Membership Committee hosted Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) at its June 18, 2024, meeting Assemblymember Quirk-Silva is chair of the Budget Subcommittee No. 5 on State Administration, which has jurisdiction over budget and fiscal policies affecting housing and shared an update on the state budget with the committee. Assemblymember Quirk-Silva is a skilled budget negotiator and key in the legislature’s budget proposal that protected the Regional Early Action Planning program (REAP 2.0). SCAG looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the assemblymember on REAP 2.0 and other priority housing programs.

SCAG Advocates for Planning on the June 2024 Mobility 21 D.C. Trip

SCAG Chief Operating Officer Darin Chidsey attended Mobility 21’s annual Washington, D.C. trip from June 3 to June 5, where a coalition of public and private partners advocated for regional transportation solutions in Southern California. The delegation met with U.S. Senate Banking Committee staff and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Washington) to advocate for various priorities, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Contingency Measure Plan, increased funding for goods movement, and streamlining/providing additional flexibility for successful implementation of “Build America, Buy America” provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The delegation also advocated for the federal government to prioritize investments and support for the regional projects and programs related to the 2028 Olympics, especially regarding infrastructure and transit.

SCAG Attends the Western Riverside Council of Governments General Assembly

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise, along with SCAG staff and Regional Council members, recently attended the Western Riverside Council of Governments General Assembly & Leadership Conference. This year’s keynote speaker was Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay, who discussed the importance of relationships when working for the greater good. Regional Council members Jan Harnik (Palm Desert), Andrew Masiel (Tribal Representative), Karen Spiegel (Riverside) and Damon Alexander (San Bernardino) attended the event, along with policy committee members Crystal Ruiz (San Jacinto), Valerie Vandever (San Jacinto), Linda Molina (Calimesa), Joseph Morabito (Wildomar) and Dale Welty (Canyon Lake).

South African Delegation Visit

SCAG was honored to host a delegation of local government leaders representing South Africa’s Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority. Attendees toured SCAG offices and received a presentation on SCAG’s governing structure and an overview of SCAG programs and priorities.

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