Executive Director’s Monthly Report, October 2023


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Economic Summit Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for SCAG’s 14th annual Southern California Economic Summit on Dec. 7 at the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles. Mark your calendars and register now to join leaders in business, planning and public policy to assess the state of the region’s economy. 

The program will explore the major economic factors that inform Connect SoCal 2024, SCAG’s draft Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. From generating new jobs to creating efficiency gains for commuters, shipping and travel, a strong regional transportation system has economic benefits for all of the nearly 19 million people in the region.  

Register today to join leading voices for conversations on strategies to promote the long-term health of Southern California’s economy. Elected officials and city managers of SCAG’s member jurisdictions may attend for free. Learn more and register to attend at scag.ca.gov/economicsummit

Regional Utilities Supporting Housing Grant Program Call Now Open  

The Call for Applications for the Regional Utilities Supporting Housing (RUSH) Pilot Program is now open through Nov. 6. This competitive call will award an estimated $35 million to projects in any of the following categories meeting the definition of infill:    

  • Planning Projects: Plans, programs and green infrastructure plans to support increased utility capacity to support residential development identified in housing elements.   
  • Capital Projects: Projects that address current and future utility restrictions for housing development and enable continued infill housing development by upgrading infrastructure for sewer, water, stormwater and dry utilities systems. 

Recordings of an Oct. 4 information session will be available soon, and office hours with SCAG staff are available to support applicants. More information on the call for applications and technical assistance opportunities are also available on SCAG’s website.  

SCAG Regional Council Approves $8 Million for Housing Infill on Public and Private Lands Program 

In October, the Regional Council also approved funding recommendations for the Housing Infill on Public and Private Lands (HIPP) Pilot Program, an $8 million competitive program to support scaling up the development of available land and implementing corridor-wide or area-wide infill housing policies and initiatives. The 11 awarded projects include site assessments, site inventories, inclusionary housing programs and specific plans that unlock lands for housing with diverse housing types. 

The HIPP Pilot Program is part of Programs to Accelerate Transformative Housing, funded by the Regional Early Action Planning program (REAP 2.0), which supports planning and implementation to accelerate infill development, affirmatively furthering fair housing and reduce vehicle miles traveled. 

Read more about the HIPP projects here.

SCAG Regional Council Approves $4 Million in Sustainable Communities Program Funding 

The SCAG Regional Council approved $4 million in October to support 11 projects advancing multimodal communities, and sustainable housing and land use strategies across Southern California. The Sustainable Communities Program – Civic Engagement, Equity and Environmental Justice (SCP CEEEJ), under which these awards are issued, is funded through Senate Bill 1 for multimodal communities projects and Regional Early Action Planning 2.0 program (REAP 2.0) for housing and land use strategies projects. The SCP CEEEJ prioritizes strategies that close the racial equity gap and include partnerships with community-based organizations, and fund or provide direct benefit to historically disadvantaged, underserved, underrepresented and under-resourced communities.

Read more about the SCP CEEEJ projects here.

SCAG Awarded $1.3 Million from California Office of Traffic Safety  

SCAG’s Regional Council, at its October meeting, approved a resolution authorizing SCAG to accept $1.35 million in grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). This funding will be used to continue the Go Human program, with plans in 2023-2024 to support localized traffic safety engagement, temporary safety demonstration projects and the distribution of Community Streets Grants across the region, as well as a research and analysis effort to assess existing strategies and inform new ones.

Learn more about the Go Human program here. 

In addition, the Regional Council approved a second resolution authorizing SCAG to accept a $886 thousand OTS grant award to fund development of a regional transportation safety predictive modeling platform. This award will facilitate SCAG’s efforts to take a more proactive approach toward the analysis and mitigation of safety risks on our regional multimodal transportation system, with the objective of reducing the incidence of collision-related fatalities and serious injuries. 

Inclusive Contracting Toolkit Coming Soon 

In July 2021, the Regional Council adopted the Inclusive Economic Recovery Strategy (IERS) to implement SCAG Resolution No. 20-623-2, which puts forward strategies for SCAG’s role in advancing equitable regional economic recovery and growth. With support from Senator Susan Rubio, SCAG received one-time grant funding of $3.5 million from the California Workforce Development Board to implement several core recommendations developed in the IERS. One such project is the Inclusive Contracting Toolkit. 

The toolkit will include actionable recommendations for procurement professionals in public agencies and private anchor institutions to support inclusive contracting policies, programs and practices. To ground this project in an understanding of the unique procurement approaches in each organization, SCAG staff convened a technical advisory committee and a series of industry focus groups made up of small businesses and contracting professionals from government agencies and anchor institutions. 

The toolkit will feature a library of best practices and recommendations, as well as summarize relevant context for inclusive contracting and recommend immediate actions organizations can take. The toolkit will be finalized and released by the end of October. 

Sign up for updates from SCAG to get notified when the Inclusive Contracting Toolkit is available. 

34th Annual Demographic Workshops Spotlights Slower Population Growth and High Housing Costs 

SCAG hosted the 34th annual Demographic Workshop on Sept. 20. The event, “The Seismic Generational Shift,” brought together the region’s leading demographers and population experts, as well as more than 400 attendees from the public and private sectors, to discuss the implications of Southern California’s shifting demographics for housing, transportation and sustainability.  

Workshop highlights include the release of SCAG’s assessment of the American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2022. This report looks at the shifts and constants of post-COVID Southern California, providing insights into the demographic, economic and housing trends between 2019 and 2022. Event speakers discussed this analysis, emphasizing the potential consequences of slower population growth and high housing costs across the region. Another major focus of the workshop was how the ongoing generational shift stands to redefine politics, culture, technology and the economy of the region. Program materials, photos and videos from the event can be found here.   

$215 Million Awarded to Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Projects in Southern California  

The California Strategic Growth Council recently announced the 7th cycle of its Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program, which advances building affordable housing in walkable neighborhoods with access to jobs. As part of this funding cycle, $215 million was awarded to six projects in the SCAG region that are projected to develop more than 997 new units of affordable housing in disadvantaged communities.  

Overall, this cycle of the AHSC program funded a total of $757 million for 16 projects in California.  

Every year, SCAG writes letters of support for affordable housing projects applying to the AHSC program and will continue to work with local partners to bring funding to projects in Southern California. 

Other-to-Residential Toolkit Wins APA Award 

SCAG’s innovative Other-to-Residential (OTR) Toolkit was honored with the American Planning Association’s (APA) California Chapter’s Merit Award for Best Practices. This toolkit offers planners and policymakers a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to promote residential development in local jurisdictions by transforming underutilized non-residential land into vibrant residential areas. 

The OTR Toolkit empowers jurisdictions to boost housing availability by identifying and prioritizing sites for land-use conversion, turning ‘other’ into ‘residential.’ The recognition by the California Chapter of the APA underscores SCAG’s commitment to advancing sustainable, inclusive urban planning practices that benefit our communities. 

The OTR Toolkit was made possible by funding from California’s Regional Early Action Planning grant program. 

SCAG Collaborates with Office of Transportation Safety and Caltrans to Launch Street Safety Campaign 

On Sept. 12 the OTS and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in collaboration with the California Highway Patrol, Automobile Club of Southern California, SCAG and the City of Long Beach held a news conference to announce a new statewide media campaign, “Safety is Sharing. Safety is Caring,” to promote bike and pedestrian safety and reduce injuries and fatal crashes. The campaign coincides with California’s Pedestrian Safety Month. 

By focusing on education, awareness and collaborative efforts, the campaign seeks to create a safer environment for everyone who uses California’s roadways. Based on data projections from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 7,508 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2022, the highest number since 1981. From 2011-2020, pedestrians and bicyclists constituted approximately one-third of all traffic deaths in the six-county SCAG region, despite accounting for less than three percent of all road users.  

Go Human Program Completes Summer Traffic Safety Demonstrations 

For California Pedestrian Safety Month in September, SCAG’s Go Human program completed 11 grant-funded community-based traffic safety Hubs; 25 traffic safety campaigns utilizing co-branded advertisements; six oral history videos centering community-led voices and narratives; 11 new Traffic Safety Pledge commitments from jurisdictions across the region; eight Kit of Parts demonstration projects; and four sponsorships to support local traffic safety events. In total, SCAG’s Go Human activities provided approximately $500,000 in direct support to more than 40 local partners in the region across more than 30 jurisdictions.  

Go Human Deploys Temporary Safety Demonstrations and Open Streets Events Around Southern California 

Go Human recently partnered with the following communities to deploy the Kit of Parts for the Go Human program: 

  • On Aug. 31, Santa Ana Active Streets (SAAS), in the City of Santa Ana hosted a temporary demonstration project in the Willard Neighborhood using the artistic crosswalk from the Go Human program’s Kit of Parts. The demonstration allowed SAAS to collect community feedback that will inform the future installation of permanent artistic crosswalks. 
  • On Sept. 8, the Township of Altadena hosted a temporary demonstration project using the Go Human program’s Kit of Parts as part of the weekly Neighborhood Market event series at Loma Alta Park. Community members were able to test out a curb extension, separated bike lane and parklet, providing feedback that supported potential traffic safety improvements.  
  • On Sept. 16, the City of Lancaster hosted a temporary demonstration project using Go Human’s Kit of Parts, in partnership with the Antelope Valley Partners for Health. Hosted at Lancaster’s Walk N Roll open streets event, the demonstration featured parklets, bike lanes, and curb extensions.  

Recently released Final Report Summaries and project videos will be available soon on the SCAG website. 

SCAG Showcases Go Human Best Practices at the APA California 2023 Conference  

SCAG’s Go Human program shared planning best practices and strategic collaborations on two key panels at the APA California 2023 Conference, “Planning at the Crossroads,” from Sept. 16-19.  

Staff and partners presented during two panels, including, “Go Human x Fresno: A Local Spotlight from a Statewide Pilot Program – Using SCAG’s Kit of Parts Lending Library for Pop Up Safety Projects,” as well as “Planning for Mobility Hubs: Experiences from Northern and Southern California.” SCAG staff joined speakers from the Fresno County Department of Public Health and the Association of Bay Area Governments. 

SCAG Represents at Mobility 21 Event 

SCAG was a sponsor of this year’s Mobility 21 Summit in Anaheim, Calif., themed “Challenge of Change,” exploring the direction and future of transportation policy and funding. SCAG Chief Operating Officer Darin Chidsey spoke on a panel to share ideas for tackling state and federal disruptions facing the transportation industry. Regional Council President and Buena Park Mayor Art Brown, Regional Council First Vice President and San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman, Regional Council Second Vice President and Vice Mayor of Long Beach Cindy Allen were also in attendance. 

Executive Director Kome Ajise Headlines Student Speaker Series 

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise took part in a speaker series held by the University of Southern California Institute of Transportation Engineers student chapter, dedicated to broadening student perspectives in the transportation field.  

Director Ajise shared about his career journey in the transportation field, providing insight into SCAG’s role and major initiatives in the Southern California region. In all, more than 50 aspiring transportation and urban planning students took part in a dialogue on the future of transportation. 

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