Executive Director’s Monthly Report, June 2024


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Regional Early Action Planning Program Update 

On May 30, the legislative leadership in the State Assembly and State Senate announced the Joint Legislative Budget Plan. Thanks to the collective advocacy efforts of SCAG and its partners, the Joint Legislative Budget Plan restores funding for several programs cut under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January Budget proposal and May Revision.  

While still making the tough choices to balance the state’s budget, the Joint Legislative Budget Plan would:  

  • Reduce proposed cuts to the Regional Early Action Planning program (REAP 2.0) from $300 million to $50 million.
  • Protect the Active Transportation Program by rejecting the proposed cuts and shifting the source of funds from the General Fund to the State Highway Account.  
  • Reject the $148 million cut from the competitive Transit and Intercity Capital Rail Program but approve delays and fund shifts.  
  • Approve delays and fund shifts to the formula Transit and Intercity Capital Rail Program and delays an additional $500 million in General Fund. 
  • Cut $350 million from the Safety Grade Separations program, which eliminates the program.  
  • Adopt a $235 million reduction to the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program. 
  • Delay $680 million for the Zero Emission Transit Capital Program.  
  • Cut $75 million from OPR’s Regional Climate Resilience program and reduce funding for OPR’s Regional Climate Collaboratives by $9.8 million.  
  • Delay $100 million from Broadband Last Mile Infrastructure Grant program from 2024-25 to 2026-27.
  • Propose $1 billion for Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Round 6 grant funding to support local governments combating the homelessness crisis, a major priority for the Big City Mayor’s Coalition.

Restoring funding to the REAP 2.0 program and protecting funding for the Active Transportation Program align with the goals of Connect SoCal 2024 and are important resources for plan implementation.

If this budget is approved, SCAG staff hope to move forward with significant REAP sub-allocations and will continue engagement to “restart” the program once the budget is finalized. Given that much is possible between now and June 15, SCAG staff recently released the REAP 2.0 Updated Program Development Framework and Phased Expenditure Plan to prioritize available funding and ensure stability amid uncertainty with the state budget. Following release of the updated framework and expenditure plan, SCAG recently conducted information sessions on the proposed updates.

Following the sessions, SCAG staff shared a FAQ and is processing input. SCAG will continue to share updates as they are available and post information on the SCAG website

SCAG will continue to focus our advocacy efforts as the Legislature and Governor’s Office negotiate the final budget, and we thank our partners for continued support and collaboration in highlighting transformative projects in the region. 

Regional Council Approves the Sustainable Communities Program – Active Transportation and Safety Call for Applications Guidelines 

On June 6, the SCAG Regional Council approved a call for application guidelines for an estimated $10.4 million in funding through the Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) – Active Transportation and Safety, comprising Active Transportation Program Cycle 7 regional funds from the state and a 2023 Safe Streets and Roads for All federal grant. 

Following the Regional Council’s adoption of Connect SoCal 2024, staff developed guidelines for the Active Transportation and Safety component of the SCP. Eligible projects include communitywide/area plans and quick-build projects. Funded projects will align with Connect SoCal 2024 goals to build and maintain an integrated multimodal transportation network.

SCAG staff conducted extensive engagement to inform the development of the 2024 SCP – Active Transportation and Safety guidelines. The call for applications is anticipated for summer 2024.

SCAG Awards $280 Million in STBG/CMAQ/CRP Funding 

In June, the SCAG Regional Council approved $280 million in funding for projects through federal fiscal year 2026 via Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), and Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) programs. Eligible project sponsors submitted nominations through their respective county transportation commissions and were scored according to criteria outlined in the STBG/CMAQ and CRP Guidelines.  

With Regional Council approval, project sponsors may now program projects into the Federal Transportation Improvement Program and begin the funding obligation process. For more information on STBG/CMAQ/CRP funding and award lists, visit SCAG’s STBG/CMAQ and CRP websites. 

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

The SCAG Regional Council approved the Draft 2025 Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP) and Draft Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 for public review. To meet state and federal submittal deadlines, the 2025 FTIP will need to be released for a 30-day public review period starting on July 12 and ending on August 12. After the public comment period, staff will present a summary of comments to the Transportation Committee in September and request Regional Council approval of the Final FTIP and Connect SoCal 2024 Amendment 1 in October.

The 2025 FTIP includes approximately 1,900 projects with a total programming of $38.5 billion over a six-year period. Amendment 1 includes project additions, deletions or changes to scope, cost and schedule for about 350 projects.

The FTIP and Amendment 1 were prepared in coordination and consultation with county transportation commissions, including multimodal investments programmed with federal, state and local funds. The 2025 FTIP and Amendment 1 are anticipated for federal approval in mid-December 2024.

2024 Go Human Community Streets Grant Program Awardees Announced

SCAG has selected 16 community organizations to implement equity-centered, traffic safety and community engagement strategies through the 2024 Go Human Community Streets Grant Program. The Community Streets Program aims to increase the safety of people most harmed by traffic injuries and fatalities, particularly those walking and biking.  

This summer, awardees will implement a variety of safety projects: community audits that share and build local knowledge, street activations that prioritize safety for people walking and biking, community events that build momentum and support for essential safety installations and more. Congratulations to all awarded projects and community partners.

SCAG Receives Federal Approval of Conformity Determination of Connect SoCal 2024  

On May 10, SCAG received accelerated federal final approval of the transportation conformity determination, valid for four years through May 10, 2028. With this approval, important transportation projects in Connect SoCal 2024 and Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP) Amendment can now move forward.

The Regional Council adopted Connect SoCal 2024 and the 2023 FTIP Consistency Amendment No. 23-26, including the associated transportation conformity analysis, in April.

Thank you to Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for expedited review and approval of the conformity determination.  

SCAG Region Makes Progress in Addressing Regional Air Quality Issues  

Due to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) disapprovals of air plans prepared by local air districts and the California Air Resources Board or local air district’s failure to submit required air plans, the SCAG region is impacted by multiple federal Clean Air Act highway sanction clocks. If not resolved soon, resulting highway sanctions will have serious consequences on transportation projects, as well as the region’s economy and jobs. 

SCAG staff take highway sanctions clocks very seriously and have been engaging with the impacted air districts and the U.S. EPA to track progress of corrective actions, discuss solutions to turn off highway sanctions and prevent imposition of highway sanctions.  

From March through May, the U.S. EPA permanently stopped two highway sanction clocks, reducing the number of sanctions impacting the SCAG region from 15 to 13. The U.S. EPA has also approved interim actions to defer three of the remaining 13 highway sanction clocks, expected to be permanently turned off upon U.S. EPA’s conclusion of public process.

SCAG looks forward to continued coordination and efforts with impacted local air districts and the U.S. EPA to achieve permanent relief from remaining highway sanction clocks in the region. 

SCAG’s 2024 Strategic Plan Approved

The Regional Council adopted the 2024 Strategic Plan, defining key roles SCAG has in the region by establishing a fresh set of strategic priorities and objectives to guide the agency’s focus, operations and performance to deliver on its mission to improve the lives of Southern Californians and beyond.  

The development of this plan included engagement with board members, stakeholders across the region, and experts within the organization to articulate the agency’s mission, values and priorities to stakeholders while aligning policies and strategies in Connect SoCal and critical initiatives.  

Following the adoption of the 2024 Strategic Plan, SCAG will establish key results to measure progress against our strategic priorities and objectives, integrate these metrics into agency workplans, and align budget development and resource allocation with our priorities.  

Highlights From the 2024 Regional Conference and General Assembly 

Many thanks to the 800+ attendees, esteemed speakers, panelists, members, partners and sponsors who gathered in May for the 2024 Regional Conference & General Assembly.  Local and regional leaders gathered to collaborate on fundamental issues, such as mobility, housing and communities, the environment and the economy following the adoption of Connect SoCal 2024 – the long-term plan and vision for Southern California.

Outgoing SCAG Regional Council President Brown closed out his term by sharing the “2023-24 President’s Report,” a detailed report of SCAG’s accomplishments since May 2023, which were also highlighted in the 2023-24 Year in Review video.

SCAG also welcomed the new Regional Council officers for 2024-25: Hon. Curt Hagman (County of San Bernardino), 2024-25 Regional Council president; Hon. Cindy Allen (City of Long Beach), 2024-2025 Regional Council first vice president; and Hon. Ray Marquez (City of Chino Hills), 2024-2025 Regional Council second vice president.

In addition, the event also saw the rollout of SCAG’s annual awards, which include the Sustainability Awards, the Student Showcase and the Scholarship Program. SCAG announced the 115 awardees of its 14th annual Scholarship Program, supporting the next generation of public servants. SCAG received a record total of 115 applications from throughout the SCAG region. SCAG honored seven innovative projects across the six-county region at the 2024 Sustainability Awards ceremonies. SCAG announced two Jury Awards and two Audience Awards for the Student Showcase poster and StoryMap contest.

California Department of Housing and Community Development Provides RHNA Reform Recommendations 

On April 18, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) published California’s Housing Future 2024: The Next Regional Housing Needs Allocation,” a 176-page report providing recommendations for Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) reform, required for submittal to the California Legislature by Assembly Bill (AB) 101 (2019). The report covers the regional determination process, SCAG-led processes such as allocation methodology and appeals process, and RHNA consistency with regional transportation plans and sustainable communities strategies.

While the report does not specify timing for action by HCD, AB 3093, under consideration by the legislature, would implement one of the report’s recommendations to address homelessness in the RHNA process by increasing the number of allocated income categories. SCAG staff is reviewing the report and continuing to monitor legislative activity. Staff will report updates to the Regional Council as more information becomes available.

RHNA Transparency Bill Update

Assembly Bill (AB) 2485 by Assemblymember Juan Carrillo is SCAG’s sponsored bill to increase transparency measures in the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) determination by:

  • Establishing procedures for the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to publish data sources, analyses and methodology used in the development of a given region’s RHNA determination on its website.
  • Requiring HCD to convene a panel of experts to advise HCD on those data sources, analyses and methodology used in the development of a given region’s RHNA determination.

The bill was first heard in the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development on April 17, where it passed. The bill then moved through the Assembly Local Government and Appropriations committees, then landed back on the Assembly floor on May 22, where it was passed unanimously. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where it will likely be assigned to the Senate Housing Committee.

City of Yucaipa Approves EIFD Resolution

The City Council of Yucaipa approved a resolution on April 24 to establish the Yucaipa Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) and adopt an infrastructure financing plan for the district. The Yucaipa EIFD will finance affordable housing and supportive infrastructure within the Freeway Corridor Specific Plan housing area along with other community enhancements. Funding for this project was provided through SCAG’s Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) program.

Highways to Boulevards Regional Study Project Advisory Committee Convenes

In May, SCAG hosted the second meeting of the Highways to Boulevards Regional Study Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC comprises staff from cities, counties and councils of governments to shape the study’s methodology and identify corridors for future conceptual design.  SCAG staff highlighted high-level goals and guiding principles, built out the ongoing project list, introduced draft screening criteria and solicited feedback regarding prioritization criteria.

SCAG staff will continue to engage stakeholders through the study’s anticipated completion in April 2025. More information on the project and PAC can be found on the SCAG website.

CARB-MPO SCS Target Setting Meetings 

On May 16 and 21, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) hosted two information meetings for metropolitan planning organization staff to share their planned process for updating Sustainable Communities Strategy guidelines and setting new Senate Bill 375 targets. Under their proposed timeline, CARB is planning a public kickoff of the process in July 2024, a release of a draft target report in April 2025 and adoption of new targets by July 2026. 

Toolbox Tuesday on Re-Imagine Biking While Black: A Road Map to Advocacy & Joy

Last month’s Toolbox Tuesday focused on mobility justice leader Yolanda-Davis Overstreet’s research and findings from the 2023 advocacy guide, “Re-Imagine Biking While Black: A Road Map to Advocacy & Joy Guide.” In 2021, Davis-Overstreet was awarded funding through the Go Human Mini-Grant program to film and release “Biking While Black: How Safe are Black Lives Bicycling?” an award-winning documentary film. Building on the film’s groundwork, Davis-Overstreet published “Re-Imagine Biking While Black: A Road Map to Advocacy & Joy Guide” in 2023. During the session, Davis-Overstreet discussed how to use the advocacy guide to address transportation inequities. Watch the session recording on the Toolbox Tuesday video archive.

SCAG GIS Training Services: Getting Started with GIS for Regional and Local Planning—Riverside and Imperial Counties 

SCAG’s Local Information Services Team (LIST), in partnership with Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, kicked off its first comprehensive GIS training program with local jurisdictions and partners in Riverside and Imperial counties in May.  

The training program is tailored for planning professionals, GIS technicians, engineers, management analysts and other professionals within 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 and can earn AICP Certification Maintenance credits. Register online for future GIS training sessions in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. Contact list@scag.ca.gov for additional information. 

SCAG Attends Annual California Congressional Transportation Reception

Regional Council President Curt Hagman led a delegation of SCAG leaders to Washington, D.C., for the agency’s annual federal advocacy trip earlier this month.  President Hagman was joined by First Vice President Cindy Allen (Long Beach), Second Vice President Ray Marquez (Chino Hills), and Legislative/Communications & Membership Committee Vice Chair José Luis Solache (Lynwood). The delegation held meetings with SCAG’s Congressional delegation as well as key federal agency leadership to share relevant agency updates, including the Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing grant program, the Active Transportation Infrastructure Improvement Program, the Healthy Streets Program, the Affordable Connectivity Program and the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Delegation members also attended SCAG’s annual California Congressional Transportation Reception, co-hosted with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, convening California’s transportation leaders and stakeholders to network and discuss issues of key importance to California’s transportation and infrastructure needs, drawing over 300 attendees. In attendance were members of California’s Congressional delegation as well as legislative and committee staff. Guest speakers at the event included California Senator Alex Padilla, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen, and Federal Highway Administration Administrator Shailen Bhatt. Additional special guests in attendance included representatives Judy Chu, Kevin Kiley, Linda Sanchez and Norma Torres.   

Members of the SCAG delegation also participated in the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors Annual Meeting, with the nation’s foremost freight policy leaders, to discuss the next iteration of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, planning supply chain issues and understanding current and future funding cycles.

WTS International Presents Honorable Ray LaHood Award to SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise

WTS International honored SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise with the 2024 WTS Recognition Award–Honorable Ray LaHood Award at the Awards Gala during the 2024 WTS Annual Conference in New Orleans on May 8. This award honors male leaders in transportation for outstanding commitments to the advancement of women and diversity in the field and elevating the reputation of professionals in transportation. WTS International specifically recognized Kome’s leadership and vision during SCAG’s Connect SoCal 2024 planning process.

Kome received the WTS-Los Angeles (WTS-LA) chapter’s Honorable Ray LaHood Award in November 2023. WTS-LA then nominated Kome for the international award alongside transportation leaders nominated by WTS chapters all over the United States and Canada. Read more about this prestigious award on the SCAG website.  

SCAG to Participate in 2024 Paris Olympic Games Observation Program and Study Tour

The Regional Council approved up to two Regional Council members and four SCAG staff to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games Observation Program and Study Tour and to meet with the Paris delegation in preparation for the LA28 Olympic Games. 

Sarah Jepson, SCAG chief planning officer, and Annie Nam, SCAG deputy director of planning for transportation, will be participating in the LA28-led 2024 Paris Olympics Observation Program. Program participants from Southern California, in addition to state and federal representatives. will learn from and engage with experts from Paris to gain firsthand knowledge about preparations and operations for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

SCAG Joins Goods Movement Summit

SCAG Regional Council President Curt Hagman and Deputy Planning Director Annie Nam participated in the Inland Empire Economic Partnership’s Logistics and E-Commerce Summit last month. Annie presented a SCAG white paper on the state of goods movement in the region. Following the presentation, President Hagman spoke on a panel discussing data on truck routes, the role technology will play in improving the industry and how SCAG can support collaboration in this space.

Go Human Kit of Parts Supports Santa Monica Safety Demonstration 

On May 18, the city of Santa Monica hosted a one-day temporary traffic safety demonstration event using SCAG’s Go Human Kit of Parts. Residents provided input on temporary, colorful and durable street designs at the intersection of Pico Boulevard and Urban Avenue for the East Pico Safety Project. Community members experienced temporary street designs, including a parklet, an artistic crosswalk and curb extensions, offering feedback for improvements in their community. 

This project is a part of Santa Monica’s commitment to promote sustainable transportation and make walking safe and convenient for all ages and abilities. For more information about the East Pico Safety Project, visit the East Pico Safety Project Website. 

SCAG Executive Director Presents on Regional Planning at CoMotion Miami

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise attended the 5th annual CoMotion Miami conference, joining regional executives across the nation to discuss long-range regional plans and emerging mobility. The conversation included how metropolitan planning organizations are incorporating new ideas about mobility into regional plans, while preserving local autonomy and using artificial intelligence to create a clear picture of future regional plans for residents.

Go Human Partner Projects Win APA LA and IES Section Awards 

Last month, the American Planning Association (APA) Inland Empire and Los Angeles sections awarded four SCAG Go Human Community Streets Grant Program projects.  

The Jurupa Valley Community Hub by Reach Out Jurupa Valley received the 2024 APA Inland Empire Section (IES) Award of Excellence in the Public Outreach category.

The “Washington Neighborhood Community Corners: A Neighborhood-Led Intersection Transformation” by Arts Council Long Beach won the 2024 APA Los Angeles Section Award of Merit in the Grassroots Initiative category.

Yolanda Davis-Overstreet Consulting won the 2024 APA Los Angeles Section Award of Excellence in the Communications Initiative category.

People for Mobility Justice won the 2024 APA Los Angeles Section Award of Merit in the Public Outreach category for “South Los Angeles Quick Build Community Planning: An Equity-Centered Outreach Model.”

Congratulations to these award-winning Go Human partner projects and to all APA award winners!

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