CALCOG News: California Interregional Blueprint Workshops; CEQA Bills; Policy in Motion Highlighted

Federal News

Senate Committee Adopts “Clean” Reauthorization. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a four month “clean” extension of the surface transportation reauthorization last week. Full Senate will consider next. The House of Representatives has yet to pass a “clean” authorization extension, but signals are that the four month extension should not run into too much trouble.

House Marks Up Transporation-HUD Bill. The House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Bill (summary table) is consistent with the Ryan budget and funds Highway Trust Fund programs at “sustainable” levels as estimated by the CBO, meaning that federal-aid highways is set at $27.0 billion, a reduction of $14.1 billion (or 34%). The bill cuts Amtrak subsidies from $563 to $227 million; eliminates funding for high speed, TIGER grant programs, and intercity passenger rail capital grants. It funds mass transit new/small starts at $1.554 billion.

Fun Federal Fact: Beginning in 1955 with Eisenhower, every administration but one has transmitted a Highway/Transportation bill to Congress. The exception? The Obama administration. While signaling strong support for infrastructure and transportation investments, the Obama administration stands out as the only one not to have transmitted a proposal to Congress (source Transportation Weekly).

NADO Federal Legislative Report Materials. A well done report with graphs, charts, and just enough words. It covers the latest news from Capitol Hill and the federal agencies. There is an overview of the policy and budget outlook for the remainder of this year, including an update on the Debt Deal, the Congressional Super Committee, the FY2012 appropriations process, and a transportation update.

CEQA Bills

There were a lot of rumors of potential back room CEQA reform deals this year. Many ideas finally found the light of day in the form of late-session amendments. Three made it to the governor’s desk, one will have to wait for next year. Making the cut are SB 292 (Padilla) (the LA stadium bill), AB 900 (Buchanon) (giving governor discretion to grant streamlining for “environmental leadership development projects”); and SB 226 (Simitian) (solar projects, but also allowing new streamlining for projects that meet performance standards developed by OPR in a number of areas, including greenhouse gases and public health).  The odd bill out was SB 931 (Dickinson) that would have allowed streamlining for employment centers and transit proximity projects.  But that is why they have two year bills.

California Interregional Blueprint November Workshops

Save the Date! CalTrans will hold two California Intraregional Blueprint (CIB) workshops in November.  The CIB provides a baseline for the California Transportation Plan and helps meet the requirements of SB 391 (requiring a state long range transportation plan to meet climate change goals). The CIB also complements RTPs. One session will seek input on the methodology that will be used to estimate GhGs for the 2015 California Transportation Plan. 

Dates & Places: November 4 (9:00 to 11:30 am) at the Sacramento Convention Center; November 8 at the CalTrans District 7 Headquarters (100 Main Street) in Los Angeles (9:30 am to Noon).  Both workshops will be webcast.

Quick Hits

  • Policy In Motion. Not every book is so tailored to our line of work. Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California After AB 32 explores the current land use-transportation-GHG framework in great detail and with a fresh perspective.  The forward by Air Resources Board member Dan Sperling calls out author Lauren Michele’s “nuanced eye” for implementation. At the very least this work will give you a fresh look at our new world of transportation and land use planning. (Cost: $55; which is nothing when compared to that new activity-based model you have your eye on).
  • Critique of Tea Party Reaction to SB 375. Not that this will make the Tea Party do an about=face on regional planning, but a recent opinion piece in Public CEO should give TP thought-leaders pause to consider a response.
  • America’s Next Top Model(er): Workshop Delayed. Last issue, we said CalTrans would offer a modeling workshop on September 22. But the date conflicted with the ARB hearing on SB 375 implementation. Rather than compete (which would be like giving a speech opposite a NFL football game), its been rescheduled for October 18, from 2 to 4 pm at the SACOG offices. The workshop is designed for executive directors and other policy makers (read: less math and more policy) and conveniently timed to coincide with the next COG Directors meeting. But we are doubtful that CalTrans will adopt our title (above) for the workshop.
  • 2 Million Californians Commute More than 45 Minutes One Way. This according to Census estimates are from 2005 to 2009.  “It used to be when you looked at Census data and saw that someone lived in Los Angeles and worked in San Francisco you assumed it was a mistake,” said Alan Pisarski, author of Commuting in America, “These days you cannot be sure.”
  • CalTrans on Proposed Stormwater Regs CalTrans has submitted a statement of concerns related to the costs of the proposed state regulations for the NPDES permit.
  • Emergency Communications. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is hosting a competition for Communicating Concepts with John and Jane Q. Public: Transportation During Emergency Situations. TRB is looking for innovative practices in emergency preparedness.

 

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