Executive Director’s Monthly Report, September 2023


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Demographic Workshop Program Preview

Registration is open for the 34th annual Demographic Workshop, “The Seismic Generational Shift,” hosted by SCAG and the USC Price School of Public Policy on Sept. 20. This event will take place at the SCAG Main Office in downtown Los Angeles, with an online broadcast for virtual viewing.

Workshop panels will explore continuing trends with the latest data, the state’s new housing data infrastructure and generational change through the lens of the region’s housing and jobs. Attending in person includes access to the full workshop program, including roundtable discussions with experts, networking, Q&A with the keynote speaker and full AICP credits.

To see the full program and register, visit scag.ca.gov/demographics.

CEHD and Regional Council Approve RHNA Reform Recommendations

In September, the Regional Council approved the release of SCAG’s recommendations on the reformation of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process. These recommendations will be provided to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in a formal letter to be included in a report of recommendations to the California State Legislature.

On Aug. 16, SCAG staff presented a total of thirteen recommendations at a special meeting of the Community, Economic and Human Development (CEHD) committee, with changes to the regional determination, methodology and appeals processes. The committee acted to recommend the draft recommendations be moved to the Regional Council for further action.

Some recommendations will also require legislation to implement changes while others will be evaluated as part of the 7th RHNA cycle. The Legislative/Communications & Membership Committee will now use the recommendations to prepare multiple proposals for potential SCAG-sponsored bills and to advocate for bills containing high-priority RHNA reform concepts. SCAG will continue to monitor and report on HCD’s process and explore ways to implement the approved recommendations.

As part of its statewide RHNA reform effort, HCD is soliciting comments until Sept. 15. For more information on SCAG’s RHNA program, visit scag.ca.gov/rhna.

Connect SoCal 2024 & Stakeholder Engagement

This month, SCAG’s joint policy committee recommended the draft Connect SoCal 2024 Plan to the Regional Council for approval to release for circulation in November. The committee heard a presentation previewing the contents of the Plan, which showcased key policies and strategies to be included in the draft Plan to address existing and emerging challenges facing the region. The presentation also showed how the Plan is based on the best available information, and rooted in local planning and policy actions.

In anticipation of the draft Plan release, SCAG staff continue to engage key stakeholders and provide standing updates at SCAG’s policy committees and working groups. Further discussions, along with other necessary engagement and consultation with tribal governments, elected official briefings and public hearings, will occur during the public review period.

Following the public review and comment period, including a concurrent review and comment period for the program environmental impact report, we anticipate seeking approval for the adoption of a final Connect SoCal in April 2024. For the latest details on Connect SoCal 2024 development, visit connectsocal.org.

Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee Second Meeting

SCAG held the second meeting of the SoCal Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee on Aug. 28. The meeting included a discussion of potential draft data standards for identifying, evaluating and selecting data. This work supports the TAC’s purpose of ensuring the future SoCal Greenprint tool is aligned with policy objectives identified in the approved Regional Advanced Mitigation Planning policy framework. The final TAC meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25 and will include discussions on revisions to the draft data standards, tool functionality and beta testing. After this final meeting, SCAG will continue to integrate committee input into staff recommendations for further development of the Greenprint tool, which will be brought to the Energy and Environment Committee in November for consideration.

Regional Early Action Planning 2.0 Update

At its September meeting, the Regional Council approved updates to the Programs to Accelerate Transformative Housing (PATH) guidelines, setting up the release of the Regional Utilities Supporting Housing (RUSH) Pilot Program Call for Applications this fall. This represents $35 million from the REAP 2.0 Program that will be focused on funding utility infrastructure planning and shovel-ready capital improvements that will help meet housing production goals.

These updates incorporate input from the RUSH forum earlier this year and are part of ongoing work to distribute the $237 million awarded to SCAG from the California Department of Housing & Community Development for the Regional Early Action Plan 2.0 Program. SCAG has issued Calls for Applications for five programs to sub-allocate a significant portion of the REAP 2.0 funds to eligible entities in the SCAG region. In July, the Regional Council approved $80 million in projects under the County Transportation Commission Partnership Program. The Regional Council will consider the approval of awards for the Sustainable Communities Program, Housing Infill on Public and Private Lands Pilot Program and Notice of Funds Available for Lasting Affordability this fall.

SCAG staff continue work to launch funding programs focused on accelerating infill development, connecting infill housing to daily services and increasing travel options, and building capacity for planning innovation through data-driven decision-making tools. For more information, visit scag.ca.gov/reap2021.

Multiple Toolbox Tuesday Sessions Available Online

SCAG hosted the Empowering Southern California with Big Data Analytics Toolbox Tuesday session on Aug. 8, describing powerful new planning and policy tools that allow users to gather and interpret large volumes of data.

Through the state’s REAP 2.0 program, SCAG, via the Regional Data Platform, is providing member agencies free access to StreetLight’s Insight Web App big data platform for the six-county region. This session also included information on StreetLight’s Insight Web App, which provides insights into travel behavior trends in an easy-to-use interface. A recording of the Empowering Southern California with Big Data Analytics Toolbox Tuesday session is also available.

SCAG hosted the Planners as Therapists, Cities as Clients Toolbox Tuesday session on Aug. 22. Urban planner, activist, social worker and artist Jose Richard Aviles led participants through the intersections of social work and urban planning practices. This training session covered how city design can contribute to reconciling the trauma of past racist urban policies and prioritizing access to a dignified quality of life for all people. A recording of the Planners as Therapists, Cities as Clients Toolbox Tuesday session is also available.

For more information on Toolbox Tuesday, visit scag.ca.gov/toolbox-tuesday.

SCAG Presents to the Assembly Select Committee on Regional Transportation Solutions

On Aug. 25, SCAG Deputy Director of Planning, Annie Nam, presented an overview of key transportation funding issues impacting the SCAG region. The presentation was part of the panel on regional transportation solutions focusing on planning and funding. The panel was one of three heard by the Assembly Select Committee on Regional Transportation Solutions held at the Antelope Valley Transit Authority City of Lancaster offices. The presentation highlighted the importance of state action furthering the establishment of a user fee-based system that better reflects the true cost of transportation for an equitable distribution of costs and benefits.

Assembly Bill 1335 Moves to the Next Legislative Session

SCAG is pleased to share that Assembly Bill (AB) 1335 was held as a two-year bill for further study and debate. This highly technical bill by Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur would have required SCAG to accept HCD’s RHNA goal as the only data source to inform household growth for the first eight years of the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy’s 30-year time horizon. AB 1335 would have impacted SCAG’s ability to demonstrate air quality conformity and access to transportation funding for the region.

SCAG will continue to work with Assemblymember Zbur on a collaborative solution that best supports the extensive work our region does to forecast population, jobs and household growth. To learn more about SCAG’s legislation and advocacy program, visit scag.ca.gov/legislation.

SCAG Meets with Assembly Leadership

SCAG representatives met with California State Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and the newly appointed chair of the Assembly Local Government Committee and former SCAG Regional Council member Assemblymember Juan Carillo. Representing SCAG on the call were Regional Council President Art Brown, Second Vice President Cindy Allen, Immediate Past President Jan Harnik and Legislative/Communications and Membership Committee Vice Chair Jose Luis Solache, accompanied by Executive Director Kome Ajise.

SCAG leadership was pleased to share longstanding legislative and budgetary priorities, including support for ongoing statewide investments in active transportation and infill infrastructure grant programs, as well as the funding and implementation of the Regional Early Action Planning 2.0 program, which SCAG is using to fund implementation of pro-housing and greenhouse gas emissions reducing infrastructure programs. SCAG looks forward to working with Speaker Rivas and Assemblymember Carrillo to further these and other vital programs.

SCAG Advocates with BizFed in Sacramento

SCAG representatives joined the Los Angeles County Business Federation on a one-day trip to Sacramento to advocate for regional priorities. SCAG met with eight legislative offices, including Assembly Local Government Committee Chair Juan Carrillo, Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, Assemblymember Luis Rivas and Senator Susan Rubio

SCAG Clean Cities Redesignation

SCAG Leadership met remotely last month with leadership from the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalition redesignation committee. SCAG Regional Council Second Vice President Cindy Allen, Immediate Past President Jan Harnik and Regional Council member Oscar Ortiz attended and shared their support for the program along with members of the SCAG Executive team who shared the importance of this work, as well as the California regulatory drivers and the need for more funding in this area.

SCAG Senior Planner and Clean Cities Coalition Director, Alison Linder, provided a detailed presentation outlining SCAG’s coalition structure, recent accomplishments, and activities and future work plan, highlighting the Passenger Electric Vehicle Atlas, the Zero Emission Truck Infrastructure Study and the Last Mile Freight Program.

To learn more about SCAG’s Clean Cities Coalition, visit scag.ca.gov/clean-cities.

SCAG Participates in the 2023 Climate Adaptation Forum

SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise participated as a panelist in the opening plenary session of the 2023 California Adaptation Forum. The session highlighted priorities and initiatives related to climate adaptation and community resilience. Panelists demonstrated the importance of working across sectors and jurisdictions to create an enabling policy environment, build social infrastructure and develop projects for equitable, community-driven climate resilience efforts.

SCAG Presents at the 2023 Esri User Conference

SCAG staff attended the 2023 Esri User Conference in early July. Principal Regional Planner, Tom Vo, presented SCAG’s Data/Map Books, which have become instrumental tools for informed decision-making. Vo also presented on the Regional Data Platform as an example of our collaborative partnership with Esri. These comprehensive resources are emblematic of SCAG’s commitment to democratizing data, creating resources that are both insightful and accessible to regional stakeholders.

Go Human Program Highlighted in New Report on Behavioral Traffic Safety

In August, the Transportation Research Board and Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program released a report and guide titled, “Improving MPO and SHSO Coordination on Behavioral Traffic Safety.” The guide highlights metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and state highway safety office (SHSO) coordination activities through SHSO support of innovative projects and programs, like SCAG’s Go Human community engagement program. Read the full report and guide here.

Temporary Safety Demonstration Projects & Open Streets Events

Go Human partnered with five communities to deploy the Kit of Parts in July and August.

On July 12, Go Human Hubs awardee Reach Out, showcased a protected bike lane and artistic crosswalk at their Skate Thru Summer event in the City of Jurupa Valley, reaching 400 attendees.

On July 29, the City of Montebello, supported by Circulate San Diego, hosted a bike lane and artistic crosswalk at the Montebello Downtown Street Fest.

On July 31, the City of Duarte hosted the Kit of Parts at their Summer Concert: Anything for Selenas! reaching more than 200 attendees as part of their Safe Routes to School efforts potential infrastructure treatments such as an artistic crosswalk, a pedestrian refuge island, a separated bike lane and a parklet.

On Aug. 7, the City of Port Hueneme, supported by California Walks, showcased temporary curb extensions and artistic crosswalks at their Health and Wellness Fair.

On Aug. 26, the City of Irvine showcased the separated bike lane as part of their Re-envision South Yale Avenue effort, allowing residents to test out the first potential improvement of its kind in the city.

The Go Human Kit of Parts will be featured in upcoming demonstrations through the rest of the summer in Santa Ana, Altadena, Lancaster, Menifee and more.

SCAG Meetings Across the Region

In July, SCAG met with the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Joint Powers Authority to discuss interest in streamlining processes for grant executions, vehicle miles traveled regional model threshold and interagency communication.

Executive Director Kome Ajise met with Los Angeles City Councilmember Heather Hutt on July 17. The conversation included the council member’s interest in transportation funding, planning grants for affordable housing and reducing vehicle miles traveled.

Executive Director Kome Ajise met with Los Angeles City Councilmember Katy Yaroslavksy on Aug. 8. The councilmember expressed interest in affordable housing funding near future Metro stations in her district.

Executive Director Kome Ajise met with LA City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez on Aug. 16. The councilmember expressed interest in programming to reconnect McArthur Park, open Metro grants and further tribal engagement in urban areas within the SCAG region.

Executive Director Kome Ajise met with West Hollywood Councilmember Lauren Meister on Aug. 30. The councilmember expressed interest in a study of the effect of short-term rentals on the state’s housing supply, and funding for installing solar on existing publicly funded housing projects including electrification conversion.

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