Introducing three new words: Integrated Connectivity Projects.
Kudos to the Strategic Growth Council for coming up with a new acronym in their Draft Program Guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC).
The concept of the ICP is to expand the definition of TOD to include areas that have the potential to improve transit by improving other transportation infrastructure that provide access to existing or new public transit or shuttle stops. An ICP would include at least one of the following infrastructure-related capital uses of funds:
- Housing Developments (e.g. construction of green/vegetated roofs)
- Housing-Related Infrastructure (e.g. water, sewer or other utility service improvements and relocation)
- Transportation- or Transit-Related Infrastructure (e.g. the reconstruction or resurfacing of sidewalks and streets; bicycle paths; traffic calming projects like roundabouts)
- Green Infrastructure (e.g. easements and rights of way)
- Or Planning Implementation if combined with any of the above (e.g. analysis to update adopted General/Specific Plans, zoning ordinances which are required to implement a capital project)
- Note: Policy in Motion strongly recommends that commercial-related infrastructure development be eligible given that commercial use near transit reduces VMT even more than housing development near transit
There would also be a variety of eligible applicants that could apply for grant funding for an ICP in their community. The Public Agency that has jurisdiction over the Project Area would be a required applicant, either by itself or jointly (co-applicant) with any of the following: Joint Powers Authority, Public Housing Authority, Transit Agency/Operators, School District, facilities district or other special district, developers (profit and/or non-profit).
The guideline’s 81 pages of flow charts and matrices are far from simple to understand at first glance (or second), but the reality is integrating land use and transportation projects are not simple problems with simple solutions. I don’t think any of us fully understand the SGC’s guidelines at this point, but I would say that’s actually an excellent indication that we are on track to a meaningful program with real-world implementation that works. I’d also like to give kudos to SGC for taking on an extremely complicated approach to integration of infrastructure and programs that will be difficult — but certainly not impossible — to quantify GHG emissions and co-benefits. Leveraging the incredible work done by California’s regional and local governments will be not just important, but essential, in achieving a flexible and durable program that maximizes our goals under this program.
The purpose of the AHSC Program is to reduce GHG emissions through projects that implement land use, housing, transportation, and agricultural land preservation practices to support infill and compact development. The AHSC Program is supported by auction proceeds derived from the California Air Resources Board’s Cap and Trade Program, and appropriated in the annual State Budget to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. $130 million has been allocated to this program for this fiscal year. The guidelines recommend that no less than 30 percent of these funds be allocated to Integrated Connectivity Projects and no less than 40% to Transit Oriented Development projects. The total dollar amount is likely to double next year and see significant increases after that.
Lauren Michele, Principal/Founder, Policy in Motion. Lauren earned a Master’s of Science degree from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies after working as a transportation planning professional at Fehr & Peers, a climate change policy analyst at the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington D.C., and an air quality program assistant at the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District. At the UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) she focused on the links between California’s Senate Bill 375 and developing federal climate/energy legislation and the transportation reauthorization. Her academic work includes teaching undergraduate courses in Transportation Policy at UC Davis and experiential learning while living and researching multi-modal transportation planning in Europe.
Lauren currently serves as Policy Director for the Transportation Coalition for Livable Communities — an organization which includes the California Alliance for Jobs, California Transit Association, National Resources Defense Council, League of California Cities, State Association of Counties, and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Councils of Governments throughout the state. The Coalition promotes the investment of cap and trade revenue to address both the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32 and critical transportation system maintenance and operation needs that build on the framework of SB 375 and other GHG reduction strategies.
Her firm, Policy in Motion, specializes in sustainable transportation policy. Policy in Motion offers planning practitioners, policy makers, and public agencies an understanding of how to integrate sustainability policy into transportation infrastructure and land use decisions. Lauren Michele’s 2011 book, “Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32” explores the State’s evolving policies for sustainable living through transportation planning, and identifies how outdated regulatory frameworks must be aligned with supporting paradigm shifts if California is to move forward in a truly unified vision for “People-Oriented Development” and transportation. Lauren’s 2012 film documentary, “Policy in Motion: Growing Beautiful Communities” continues to explore how an integrated approach to transportation planning and funding based on “People-Oriented Development” (POD) can improve community quality of life while meeting California’s environmental and economic goals. Policy in Motion’s book and film are available for purchase on-line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and www.policyinmotion.com.