January 3, 2012
Chairman Ken Alex
Strategic Growth Council
1400 Tenth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Comments on the Strategic Growth Council’s Strategic Plan
Dear Chairman Alex and Members of the Council:
Policy in Motion and Fehr and Peers would like to recognize and appreciate the efforts of the strategic planning process undertaken by the Strategic Growth Council. The draft Strategic Plan reflects a statewide shift toward planning and crafting policies which support sustainable communities in California. As firms whose mission is to improve and grow efficient, prosperous and beautiful communities, the Principals of Policy in Motion and Fehr & Peers offer encouragement that the draft Plan support the Council’s priorities as stated in SB 732 (2008) and AB 857 (2001).
“Quality of Life” has become a key principle at federal, state, regional and local levels of government; however, efforts to define and measure “livability” are still highly variable and the need for performance based planning frameworks in conjunction with developing consistent quantification tools and modeling to capture policy impacts across the economic, environmental and equitable aspects of sustainability planning is greatly needed. Additionally, the possible MAP-21 federal redesignation of Metropolitan Planning Organization size from 50,000 to 200,000 would greatly increase the need for resources and guidance on performance based and cost-effective infrastructure planning among California’s smaller MPOs – given the redesignation would impact 10 of California’s 18 MPOs which would no longer be subject to SB 375 (2008). These regions would include four of the eight San Joaquin Valley MPOs, and the regions of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Shasta, Butte and Tahoe.
In light of the limited staff resources and diversity of important issues facing the Council, Policy in Motion and Fehr & Peers would like to recommend focus the draft Strategic Plan on initiatives which are cross-cutting and supportive in sustainability objectives by leveraging recent State investments with staff and technical resources across agencies and stakeholder groups. Please consider the following comments pertaining to the development of the Five-Year Infrastructure Plan and coordinated investment strategies:
Strategy 1.4: Promote incorporation of SB 732’s objectives into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan.
“A work group created by the Executive Director and Key Staff will. . . make recommendations on how planning priorities and sustainability objectives can be more fully integrated into the development of the Five-Year Infrastructure Plan administered by the Department of Finance. Council Members will provide leadership to encourage their agencies’ cooperation, and may request an assessment of how infrastructure investments within their agencies and departments support state planning priorities.”
- The Council and member agency involvement in developing the Five-Year Infrastructure Plan should include a transportation element oriented toward the implementation of the short term elements of the California Transportation Plan and coordinated across member agencies to integrate water, energy, public health, and other related infrastructure.
- In facilitating the process for the Five-Year Infrastructure Plan and long range planning objectives under SB375, the Council should provide guidance, support and capacity building for MPOs and RTPAs on tools and resources, including the California Statewide Integrated Model (CalSIM) and other consistent tools for use across regions in Regional Transportation Plan development and evaluation.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. We look forward to working with you as the Council works toward adoption of a final Strategic Plan.
Policy in Motion
Principal, Chief Technical Officer
FEHR & PEERS
Jerry Walters is Fehr & Peers Chief Technical Officer and leader of the firm’s Cool Connections initiative on transportation strategies for sustainable climate, energy and health. He has over thirty years experience in transportation planning and engineering, and has participated on committees responsible for defining best practices for integrated land use, transportation and climate change methods for the California Transportation Commission, Air Resources Board, Department of Housing and Community Development, Caltrans, and the American Public Transit Association. He has also directed development of project evaluation methods and metrics for the US EPA and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Mr. Walters is a co-author of the 2008 book Growing Cooler – the Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change published by the ULI. He also led development of smart growth travel analysis methods for Sacramento Regional Blueprint study, San Joaquin Valley Growth Response study, and smart growth planning for the San Diego and San Luis Obispo regions, and sustainable development plan throughout the US.
Lauren Michele is the Principal and Founder of Policy in Motion, a Woman/ Disadvantaged Business Enterprise highlighting how transportation policy impacts community sustainability and “people-oriented development” — access to affordable living near quality jobs, food, schools and health services through livability planning. Ms. Michele’s combined knowledge as a practicing transportation planning consultant, climate policy analyst, and University of California researcher has given her a foundation to build a business and author a book connecting federal and state legislative priorities with local and regional implementation. She has worked on issues from local transportation planning to federal climate policy. Her recent book, “Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32” was released August 10, 2011.
“People-oriented development is a concept that goes beyond traditional planning concepts of promoting high density development near transit stations; rather, POD focuses on what makes people happy and how to offer existing neighborhoods job growth, community schools, places of gathering, quality travel, resource management, and housing diversity. In a state that drives 800 million miles a day and spends ten percent of household income on cars, planning for PODs today will blossom beautiful communities tomorrow.”
– Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32