Executive Director’s Monthly Report, November 2023


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Draft Connect SoCal 2024 and Draft Program Environmental Impact Report Now Available for Public Comment 

The SCAG Regional Council voted on Nov. 2, 2023, to release both the draft Connect SoCal 2024, the region’s 2024-2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) and the accompanying Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for public review and comment through Jan. 12, 2024. The comment period for the draft Connect SoCal 2024 plan begins on Nov. 23, while the comment period for the draft PEIR begins on Nov. 9. 

Updated every four years, Connect SoCal 2024 outlines a vision for the region, with integrated strategies across the areas of mobility, community, environment and economy to help us get there. The Plan meets federal transportation conformity requirements and state requirements for greenhouse gas emission reduction, enabling the region to continue to receive funding for much-needed transportation projects.  

Connect SoCal 2024 is informed by local jurisdiction plans more so than in past cycles, facilitated by SCAG staff meeting with 164 jurisdictions during the development stage, which also included input from hundreds of stakeholders and thousands of Southern Californians; and leadership from 149 policy committee and Regional Council members. The transportation investments include projects submitted by six County Transportation Commissions and supplemented by a set of regional strategic investments. 

During the draft Connect SoCal 2024 public comment period, SCAG staff will host three public hearings on Dec. 4, 5 and 8, in addition to briefings for elected officials in each county in the SCAG area. For more plan updates, including future hearing dates, please visit ConnectSoCal.org, or email ConnectSoCal@scag.ca.gov with any questions.   

As the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lead agency, SCAG’s Connect SoCal 2024 draft PEIR includes a region-wide, programmatic-level environmental assessment, and considers and discusses feasible mitigation measures and a range of reasonable alternatives to the Plan. The separate but parallel CEQA 65-day public comment period for the draft PEIR begins Nov. 9 and ends on Jan. 12, 2024, the same day as the comment period for the draft Connect SoCal 2024 plan. The draft PEIR will be available on Nov. 9. To view and submit comments please visit scag.ca.gov/peir or email ConnectSoCalPEIR@scag.ca.gov

Early Bird Registration Ends Nov. 3 for the 14th Annual Southern California Economic Summit 

Time is running out to take advantage of early bird pricing for the 14th Annual Southern California Economic Summit on Dec. 7 in Downtown Los Angeles. Every year, SCAG hosts business leaders, elected officials, economists and more to assess the state of the regional economy and plan for its long-term prosperity.  

This year, discussions at the event will relate directly to the trends that inform the Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. Register today to participate in this important event at a critical time for the region. Nov. 3 is the last day to get $75 off the general admission price! 

Deadline Approaching for the Regional Utilities Supporting Housing Program 

The Regional Early Action Planning Grants of 2021 (REAP 2.0) Call for Applications for the Regional Utilities Supporting Housing (RUSH) Pilot Program is open through Nov. 6. This competitive Call for Applications has an estimated budget of $35 million available for projects in any of the following categories and meeting the definition of infill:    

  • Planning Projects: Plans, programs and green infrastructure projects to increase utility capacity to support the residential development identified in local housing elements.   
  • Capital Projects: Projects that address current and future utility constraints for housing development through upgrading infrastructure for sewer, water, stormwater and dry utilities systems, thus enabling continued infill housing development. 

SCAG hosted a recorded workshop on Oct. 4 to explain the Call for Applications and is offering office hours to support applicants in the application process. For more information on the call for applications and technical assistance opportunities visit the SCAG website

SCAG Regional Council Approves $45 Million for the Lasting Affordability Program 

On Nov. 2, the Regional Council approved funding recommendations for the Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) for the Lasting Affordability Program, a $45 million competitive call supporting program-level investments in housing trust funds, community land trusts, catalyst funds and nonprofit organizations that secure lasting affordability.  

The NOFA is funded by the Programs to Accelerate Transformative Housing (PATH) Program under the REAP 2.0. With the NOFA, SCAG will fund 14 transformative planning and implementation projects in the region to carry out REAP 2.0 goals of accelerating infill development, affirmatively furthering fair housing and reducing vehicle miles traveled. 

County Allotments of REAP Suballocations Now Available 

SCAG’s REAP 2.0 program aligns transportation and housing development by investing in innovative finance, land use and transportation strategies to help achieve California’s climate goals. SCAG is sub-allocating 80 percent of its $246 million REAP 2.0 grant award for partner-led projects, which can help projects be delivered efficiently while investing funding back into the region. The REAP 2.0 program also builds capacity to deliver 6th cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals. 

The REAP 2.0 program includes three major program areas for technical assistance and funding programs: the Early Program Initiatives, Programs to Accelerate Transformative Housing and the Transportation Partnership Programs. SCAG has facilitated five calls for applications for REAP funding awards—the County Transportation Commission Partnership Program, the Subregional Partnership Program 2.0, the Sustainable Communities Program Call 4, the Housing Infill on Public and Private Lands Program and, the most recent, Lasting Affordability—working to ensure that suballocations reflect the geographic diversity of infill opportunities in the Southern California region: 

  $ Award Amount % of Award Population Population Share
Los Angeles $82,044,064.00 52% 10046000 53%
Orange $21,111,226.00 13% 3191000  17%
San Bernardino $17,846,060.00 11% 2175000 12%
Ventura $11,778,425.00 7% 849000 5%
Imperial $1,274,133.00 1% 181000 1%
Riverside $23,694,084.00 15% 2386000 13%

*Totals do not reflect the RUSH program, which currently has an open call for applications. 

SCAG Tours Imperial County Transportation Projects 

On Oct. 26 and 27, a SCAG delegation, including Regional Council President Art Brown, Immediate Past President Jan Harnik and Executive Director Kome Ajise, visited Imperial County to tour important regional facilities. 

The group was recognized as “guests of honor” at the California League of Cities-Imperial County Division Annual Dinner in Brawley before visiting the Calexico East Port of Entry California Highway Patrol Heavy Truck Vehicle Inspection Facility. The group also visited several ongoing projects in downtown Calexico designed to support transit and pedestrian access, including the Calexico West Port of Entry which has received $191 million in federal funding for an upgrade, and major investments for pedestrian access. The tour concluded with a stop at the “Lotus Living Tiny Homes” project in El Centro, completed in 2021 in partnership with Imperial Valley College. 

Final SoCal Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee Meeting 

The third and final SoCal Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting was held on Oct. 30. The meeting included discussion of updated SoCal Greenprint draft data standards and potential data layers, tool functionality and user testing to continue the TAC’s work in advising staff on development of the SoCal Greenprint tool and to ensure the tool’s alignment with the approved Regional Advanced Mitigation Planning policy framework. Staff will integrate the guidance and feedback from all three meetings into recommendations presented to the Energy and Environment Committee in January 2024 and the Regional Council in February 2024. 

SCAG at the CTC, CARB, HCD Joint Meeting 

Housing Department Manager Ma’Ayn Johnson represented SCAG at a joint meeting of the California Transportation Commission, California Air Resources Board and the California Housing and Community Development Department on Nov. 2 in Riverside. The joint meeting is an important convening of state partners and an opportunity to share SCAG’s work on the Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy and SCAG’s progress in implementing almost $300 million in REAP funding across the region. 

Sustainable Communities Award Recommendations Highlight Parking Bundle Projects 

The 2020 Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) “Call 3” awards, approved by the Regional Council in July 2022, focused on Smart Cities & Mobility Innovations projects, emphasizing curb use, parking management and the integration of technology. These “parking bundle” projects tested new curb management technologies, assessing baseline and future conditions related to parking inventory, management and policy in each of the two cities, and recommended approaches for managing local parking needs into the future. Two case studies—from the City of Desert Hot Springs looking at parking management plans and City of Garden Grove assessing on-street parking issues in residential areas—were shared in a staff report to the Transportation Committee on Nov 2.  

SCAG at the California Forward Economic Summit 

SCAG Chief Planning Officer Sarah Jepson spoke on the “Accelerating Infrastructure” panel session at the California Forward Economic Summit (CAFWD) on Oct. 13, along with SCAG Regional Council Member and Indio Mayor Oscar Ortiz and representatives from the Strategic Growth Council and the Milken Institute. SCAG’s Immediate Past President Jan Harnik, of Palm Desert, was also featured in a local government panel discussion, along with Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ryan Kelly and Brawley City Councilmember and SCAG CEHD Member George Nava. Additional panels discussed energy, economic development and numerous other topics.  

CAFWD took place in Indian Wells and highlighted the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. The program included tours of the Salton Sea, Agua Caliente Tribal Conservation Lands and other critical projects in the region. CAFWD’s bipartisan network of business, equity, environmental and civic organizations is unique in championing solutions that meet the triple bottom line—equity, environmental sustainability and economic growth. 

SCAG Publishes Clean Technology Compendium 

SCAG published the “Clean Technology Compendium” on Oct. 30 in response to the imminent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in the region. Because the transportation sector directly contributes to these environmental risks, the SCAG Regional Council adopted the “Clean Transportation Technology Policy and Resolution” earlier this year, defining clean transportation technology as zero- and near-zero emission vehicles and the infrastructure needed for their operation, along with other products that reduce the environmental impact of the transportation sector.  

The “Clean Technology Compendium” contributes to the work of cleaning the environment by providing an in-depth overview of zero and near-zero emission transportation technologies, including charging and fueling infrastructure and other supporting products. The compendium also offers a suite of recommendations and strategies to help overcome obstacles and accelerate widespread clean technology adoption. With clean transportation technology, Southern California can improve livelihoods, health and equity, concurrently delivering economic advantages for business and industry. 

SCAG Publishes Climate Equity Compendium 

In October, SCAG published the “Climate Equity Compendium” in partnership with CivicSparks fellows, The “Climate Equity Compendium” provides resources for local planners in the SCAG region to advocate for equitable and actionable policies and implement effective climate adaptation solutions. SCAG and CivicSparks reached out to more than 60 local jurisdictions to identify and assess major obstacles to climate equity at the local level, including lack of funding, resources and staff capacity, as well as difficulties finding relevant data and conducting outreach. 

Temporary Traffic Safety Demonstration Projects and National Pedestrian Safety Month 

In celebration of National Pedestrian Safety Month in October, Go Human partnered with the following communities to deploy the “Kit of Parts” and showcase potential street improvements: 

  • On Oct. 4, LADOT hosted a temporary demonstration project for their Walk to School Day event at Young Oak Kim Academy in Koreatown.  
  • On Oct. 7, the City of Menifee hosted a temporary demonstration project for their Clean Air Day Expo at Mt. San Jacinto College. 
  • On Oct. 19, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority showcased the Go Human program’s Kit of Parts at their “lunch and learn” event. 

Recently released Go Human final report summaries and project videos are available on the SCAG website

Toolbox Tuesday: Training for the HCD’s Annual Progress Report Dashboard Tool 

As part 1 of a new Housing Series, SCAG partnered with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to host a Toolbox Tuesday session on “Tools and Resources for Increasing Equitable Housing Access and Exploring Development Trends.” 

In this session, SCAG presented and demonstrated HCD’s Annual Progress Report Dashboard Tool, which allows jurisdictions to research housing needs and trends in their area. In addition, HCD also presented and demonstrated the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Data Viewer Tool to assist with fair housing analyses, site selection and program development housing element requirements. The interactive AFFH Data Viewer tool provides data on issues related to fair housing, including segregation and integration, disparities in access to opportunity, disproportionate housing needs, racially and ethnically concentrated areas poverty and more. 

Recording of the session is posted in the Toolbox Tuesday library.  

Sustainable Communities Program Staff Report Highlights Impact 

The Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) provides resources and direct technical assistance to jurisdictions to complete local planning efforts that implement Connect SoCal 2020. Projects funded under this program demonstrate a comprehensive approach to planning, integrating transportation planning with active transportation, housing production, safety, smart cities, mobility innovation, transportation demand management and sustainability. Through SCP, SCAG seeks to strengthen partnerships with local agencies responsible for land use and transportation decisions.  

The Regional Council approved the current SCP Guidelines in 2020, and since then, SCAG has issued four calls for applications and awarded $11.8 million to 56 projects. The 2024 SCP Guidelines will follow the release of the draft Connect SoCal 2024 plan. The staff report shared with the Regional Council this month includes a summary of the projects funded to date. 

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