Executive Director’s Monthly Report, May 2024


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General Assembly Elects 2024-25 Board Officers 

The General Assembly approved the nominations for the SCAG 2024-25 Board Officers as recommended by the Regional Council: Hon. Curt Hagman (County of San Bernardino) will serve as 2024-25 Regional Council president; Hon. Cindy Allen (City of Long Beach) will serve as Regional Council first vice president; and Hon. Ray Marquez (City of Chino Hills) will serve as Regional Council second vice president. Leadership also recognized Hon. Art Brown (City of Buena Park), who served as president for 2023-24 and will continue as a board officer in the role of immediate past president, and Hon. Carmen Ramirez, as Regional Council president in memorium for the past year.  

SCAG Budget for Fiscal Year 2024-25 Approved 

The General Assembly adopted the General Fund Budget and Membership Assessment Schedule for Fiscal Year 2024-25. The General Fund is the designated financial resource for the operating budget of the Regional Council and supports SCAG activities not funded by, or are not allowable charges to, federal or state grant funds. The FY 2024-25 General Fund budget is $3,089,698, nearly the same similar figure as the FY 2023-24 General Fund budget of $3,089,747. 

Year in Review and 2023-24 President’s Report Now Available 

Regional Council President Art Brown closed out his term at the 2024 Regional Conference and General Assembly by sharing a report of SCAG’s accomplishments for 2023-24. SCAG also debuted a 2023-24 Year in Review video, highlighting SCAG’s extensive work to identify and address the needs of the region and promote sustainability, prosperity and quality of life improvements for all Southern Californians. 

President Brown’s top priority for SCAG this year was the completion of the Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, which was formally adopted by the Regional Council in April. President Brown also set priorities for the Regional Council and SCAG staff to research and collaborate on transit recovery, clean technology and goods movement.  

SCAG Announces 2024 Sustainability Awards 

SCAG honored seven innovative projects across the six-county region at the 2024 Sustainability Awards ceremonies at the 2024 Regional Conference and General Assembly. The Sustainability Awards highlight SCAG’s commitment to excellence in sustainable planning and development projects. The seven winning projects are integral to the goals of the Connect SoCal Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. 

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation received the Outstanding Achievement in Sustainability, SCAG’s most prestigious Sustainability Award, for its Universal Basic Mobility Pilot Program in South Los Angeles. The Universal Basic Mobility Pilot Program demonstrates a future where transportation is equitable, accessible and sustainable for all by encompassing a variety of components designed to connect diverse and sustainable transportation options with the community. These include transportation subsidies, e-bike libraries, electric vehicle car-sharing programs, increased mobile payment options on all modes of transportation and workforce development training to empower residents with skills for an emerging green economy.   

Other 2024 Sustainability Award winners were:    

  • Active, Healthy and Safe Communities: The City of Buena Park, Silverado Trail Phase 2 
  • Carmen Ramirez Award for Equity: Inland Equity Community Land Trust, Plan Adelanto 
  • Clean Cities: Alternative Fuels and Infrastructure: Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles, Clean Truck Fund Program 
  • Green Region Initiative: Climate Action and Resource Conservation: The City of Oxnard, Climate Action and Adaptation Plan 
  • Housing Innovation: The City of Moreno Valley, Courtyards at Cottonwood 
  • Plan, Policy and Program: Riverside Community College District, Sustainability and Climate Action Plan 

For more information and to view the awards showcase videos, visit the SCAG website.  

Student Showcase at the Regional Conference and General Assembly 

Student Showcase winners were invited to attend the 2024 Regional Conference and General Assembly as SCAG conference fellows. The Student Showcase poster and StoryMap competition challenged students to think innovatively and meaningfully to tell a story, provide insight, showcase plans and projects, engage supporters and stakeholders, illustrate the possibilities of data and highlight the usefulness of open data at the regional level. 

A panel of judges selected one poster and one StoryMap for the “Jury Award.” Conference attendees will vote on their favorite poster and StoryMap for the “Audience Award.” In all, $6,000 across four prizes will be awarded. For more information on the Student Showcase projects, visit the SCAG website

12 Scholarships Awarded to Southern California Students 

SCAG announced the awardees of its 14th annual scholarship program, helping to inspire and support the next generation of public servants. SCAG received a record total of 115 applications from throughout the SCAG region.  

The Scholarship Committee of 13 Regional Council members and two representatives from academia, recommended that the Regional Council award nine students with a 2024 SCAG Scholarship Program Award. The California Transportation Foundation, in generous partnership with SCAG, provided funding for three additional scholarship awards. An additional scholarship was made possible by generous donations from Randall Lewis, the Building Industry Association, the City of Santa Fe Springs and incoming Regional Council Second Vice President Ray Marquez. The list of scholarship award winners is in the Scholarship Committee report in the May Regional Council agenda packet. 

Connect SoCal 2024 Post-Adoption Update  

After SCAG’s Regional Council adopted the Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) on April 4, SCAG staff submitted Connect SoCal 2024 and its adopted transportation conformity determination to the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration, which, in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will make a final transportation conformity determination by June 5.  

Later this summer, SCAG will submit Connect SoCal 2024 to the California Air Resources Board to review SCAG’s determination that the SCS would, if implemented, achieve the established greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  

Meanwhile, SCAG staff are working to advance the Implementation Strategies included in Connect SoCal 2024. In June, SCAG will launch the Sustainable Communities Program Active Transportation and Safety call for projects to fund implementation efforts in local communities across the region. SCAG is also leading work to advance regional solutions, like with the “Highways to Boulevards Study,” the Last Mile Freight Program and the Smart Cities Strategic Plan. 

REAP 2.0 Update: Program Development Framework Information Sessions 

As previously reported, Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed draft fiscal year 2025 state budget would reduce SCAG’s $246 million REAP 2.0 allocation by 50 percent. SCAG has worked expeditiously to develop the REAP 2.0 program for the region and has already suballocated $192 million of this award via formula-based and competitive programs. We continue to urge Gov. Newsom to reconsider these cuts. To stabilize the REAP 2.0 program amid budget uncertainty, SCAG staff is preparing a phased expenditure plan to prioritize available funding. Funding priority will be based on the program’s core objectives and guiding principles, as defined in an updated version of the REAP 2.0 Framework. 

SCAG staff will host two information sessions. Register online for a session on Tuesday, May 14 at 10 a.m. or Wednesday, May 15 at 1 p.m. REAP 2.0 awardees are invited to attend the information sessions and provide input. 

With Regional Council approval, the phased expenditure plan could allow some work to restart this summer while efforts continue to restore the full budget. 

Toolbox Tuesday on Environmental Justice Tools for Local Planning 

This month’s Toolbox Tuesday focused on resources to incorporate environmental justice in local planning to meet Senate Bill (SB) 1000 requirements for general plans. Video of the session is available with the series archive

This session featured the SB 1000 Equity Toolkit developed by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) and San Bernardino Council of Governments. Participants learned about the new toolkit’s free general plan tools, such as interactive maps, data dashboards and model environmental justice policy language. The toolkit’s developers, Mairany Anaya from SBCTA and Eric Yurkovich from Raimi + Associates, provided an overview of the SB 1000 Equity Toolkit and a demonstration of how jurisdictions in San Bernardino County, and beyond, can use the tools.  

SCAG also shared the region’s progress on SB 1000 and additional resources from SCAG’s Equity Resources for Action Toolbox. Contact SCAG’s Local Information Services Team at list@scag.ca.gov for additional information. 

SCAG Continues Sacramento Advocacy  

Due to the significance of SCAG’s legislative priorities this year, SCAG leadership coordinated additional advocacy meetings in Sacramento to urge protection of the REAP 2.0 programs and enlist support for SCAG-sponsored legislation, AB 2485 (Carrillo), to improve the accuracy and transparency of the Regional Housing Needs Determination process. SCAG also used these meetings to highlight how the Infill Infrastructure Grant program and Active Transportation Program are helping local cities and counties achieve emission reductions. 

On the April 10, SCAG Regional Council Member Jenny Crosswhite (Santa Paula) and Legislative Analyst Francisco Barajas met with Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Assemblymembers Greg Wallis (R-Palm Desert) and Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), as well as staff to Assembly Speaker Emeritus Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Assemblymember Bill Essayli (R-Corona).  

Immediate Past President Jan Harnik (Palm Desert) and Regional Council members Ray Marquez (Chino Hills) and Frank Yokoyama (Cerritos) participated in an April 24 trip along with Legislative Affairs Manager Kevin Gilhooley. The group met with Senate Majority Leader Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), senators Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and Bob Archuletta (D-Pico Rivera); assemblymembers Mike Gipson (D-Los Angeles) and Tri Ta (R-Westminster); and staff to assemblymembers Isaac Bryan (D-Culver City) and Phil Chen (R-Yorba Linda). 

Caltrans Audit Underway 

The Caltrans Internal Audits Office (CIAO) informed SCAG that they will be performing an audit of costs on all Caltrans-administered funds. The audit will determine whether SCAG’s costs are adequately supported and incurred in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, regulations and contract provisions. At the audit’s end, CIAO will conduct an exit conference to discuss audit results. CIAO will also provide a draft audit report and request a written response from SCAG, which will be incorporated into the final audit report. The audit has been initiated, and SCAG staff is working to provide all requested information and documentation. 

Tribal Data Needs Assessment in Process 

As part of the Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy implementation grant, SCAG kicked off the Tribal Data Needs Assessment for Tribal Resilience Project in collaboration with the Brookings Institution. SCAG and Brookings will work with Tribal leaders and other Native American-serving organizations in the region to explore their unique data needs, and identify and document strategies that can inform more inclusive data collection efforts for Tribal communities. Ultimately, this research will help drive policy to provide Tribal leaders and Native American-led organizations access to more significant resources to meet their own needs as sovereign governing entities. The final report is expected to be published in December 2024. 

SCAG Participates at Esri’s 2024 Geodesign Summit  

Members of the SCAG Local Information Services Team (LIST) attended the 2024 Geodesign Conference hosted by Esri—a geographic information system (GIS) software company—on April 8 and 9 at their campus in Redlands.  

The conference highlighted innovative examples of how public and private sector entities, non-government organizations and academic institutions are leveraging the geodesign approach and GIS technologies to improve sustainability, confront complex challenges and better plan. Presentations focused on applied examples of how GIS and geodesign have been used to solve problems and develop solutions across topics, including city planning, regional planning, master planning, resiliency, natural resource conservation and environmental planning at local, regional and global scales. Presentations from Esri staff also provided a sneak peek of upcoming Esri tools and features, such as AI tools. 

The plenary session also highlighted the SCAG Regional Data Platform (RDP) along with other leading best practices around the world. LIST members networked with other industry professionals and highlighted the RDP and other SCAG projects in the GIS realm. 

Tres Hermanos Ranch Property Tour 

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise, SCAG Chief Planning Officer Sarah Jepson and SCAG planning and government affairs staff joined Regional Council Member Ray Marquez (Chino Hills) and City of Industry Assistant City Manager Sam Pedroza on a tour of the 2,445-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch property, jointly protected by the City of Industry and the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar. The SCAG tour explored the property’s potential for active transportation projects. 

Santa Ana Installs First Artistic Crosswalk with Support from SCAG’s Go Human 

The city of Santa Ana installed and showcased its first artistic crosswalk at 15th Street and Ross Street in the Willard neighborhood last month. Community feedback informed the location and safety treatment, recognizing that drivers slow down for high visibility artistic crosswalks. People of all ages can now enjoy a safer and colorfully vibrant crosswalk that reflects community character.  

This successful community planning and implementation process was supported by the Willard Safe Streets Summer Nights event in August 2023, attended by more than 150 families and funded by a 2022 SCAG Go Human Mini-Grant. At the event, Santa Ana Active Streets collected community feedback on a temporary artistic crosswalk, using the Go Human “Kit of Parts” safety materials with support from California Walks. 

Anne Mayer SCAG Proclamation 

During public comment at a recent Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) meeting, SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise presented a SCAG proclamation to retiring RCTC Executive Director Anne Mayer. Kome congratulated Anne on three decades of public service dedicated to transportation improvements in Southern California. 

SCAG Go Human 2023 Community Hubs Grant Awardee Wins APA Orange County Award 

The TWIGY Bikey Summer program, created by the Bicycle Tree and Santa Ana Active Streets, won the 2024 American Planning Association (APA) Orange County Section Award of Excellence in the Grassroots Initiative category. 

The TWIGY Bikey Summer program, funded by SCAG’s Go Human Community Hubs Grant Program in 2023, creates a supportive community for people who identify as transgender, women, intersex and gender nonconforming—all historically underrepresented and excluded in bicycling communities. The program promotes a visionary and innovative approach to inclusive community planning, demonstrating grassroots community impact by directly engaging and empowering vulnerable communities to facilitate mobility justice in Orange County. The award will be formally presented at the APA Orange Section Planning Awards event in fall 2024. More information about the Bicycle Tree and other Go Human Community Hubs awardees is available online. 

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