The Sacramento Chapters of the American Planning Association Young Planner’s Group, together with the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Emerging Professional’s Group, is co-hosting an informative event exploring how recent transportation policy has transformed our professions. Lauren Michele, a young professional herself, principal, and owner of Policy in Motion will be the guest speaker. Ms. Michele collaborates with government agencies and varied stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels to craft and implement transportation plans and regulatory frameworks that work toward community sustainability and people-oriented development. She recently published a book, Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32, examining California’s planning initiatives post-AB 32 and in light of SB 375 and explores policy, politics, and changes to state law that can help to achieve sustainable communities and transportation systems.Date/Time: Thursday, December 1, 5:30-7:30pm
Location: American Institute of Architects Central Valley1400 ‘S’ Street Sacramento, CA
5:30-6:00pm – Social with refreshments and book signing
6:00-7:00pm – Interactive presentation by Lauren Michele
7:00-7:30pm – Q&A/group discussion
Let us know you’re coming, please RSVP to Tracey Ferguson, YPG Chair at email@example.comCost: FREE EVENT
About the Author….Since the passage of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006 (AB 32), Lauren Michele, Principal and Owner of Policy in Motion, has worked with government agencies and varied stakeholders from the local to federal level on crafting and implementing transportation plans and regulatory frameworks which work toward community sustainability and people-oriented development. A graduate of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, Ms. Michele’s research and strategic analyses have been utilized by the Federal Highway Administration; State of California Department of Transportation, Air Resources Board, Energy Commission, Strategic Growth Council, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research; as well as regional and local transportation planning agencies developing integrated land use and transportation sustainability plans.
On behalf of the Strategic Growth Council (SGC), the Department of Conservation manages competitive grants to cities, counties, and designated regional agencies to promote sustainable community planning and natural resource conservation. The grant program supports development, adoption, and implementation of various planning elements. The Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program offers a unique opportunity to improve and sustain the wise use of infrastructure and natural resources through a coordinated and collaborative approach.
2011 REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
The Department of Conservation (DOC), Division of Land Resource Protection (DLRP), Planning Grant and Incentive Program has released the round two Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Request for Proposals (RFP) funded through the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Act of 2006 (Proposition 84). DOC has allocated approximately $18 million of Proposition 84 funds for round two. The funds awarded will support development, adoption, and implementation of Sustainable Community planning elements throughout the State, including, but not limited to, Climate Action Plans and General Plan amendments. The grants awarded from this solicitation will cover up to a three-year project period. Grant requests for amounts from $100,000 to $1,000,000 will be considered.
DOC is utilizing the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) system to facilitate the application and review process, and to conserve paper. All applicants submitting proposals for funding through this grant must submit a complete electronic application using the FAAST system, by 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, FEBRUARY 15, 2012. Late applications will not be accepted.
For technical questions about the State Water Board’s FAAST application, please contact FAAST staff by phone at (866) 434-1083, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions regarding this grant solicitation, please contact the DOC Planning Grant and Incentive Program staff by phone at (916) 322-3439, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or by email: SGCSustainableCommunities@conservation.ca.gov.
The DOC Planning Grant and Incentive Program Staff will hold workshops around the state in early 2012, with dates, times and locations to be announced.
HISTORY OF THE SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PLANNING GRANT AND INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Regional Planning and Sustainable Communities Strategies: The Road So Far
SB 375 has been hailed as a new standard in planning for transportation, housing, land use and climate change mitigation. Get up-to-speed on this significant legislation with this “just the facts” approach to the implementation and application of the law, including how SB 375 was integrated into the Housing Element Law and CEQA, and the potential impacts this will have on local government and other state policy. Review the different strategies being developed by metropolitan planning organizations to achieve statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and the implications they have for land use and resource management planning. Examine the availability of implementation resources; and how traffic, economic and demographic data will be used to measure strategy effectiveness.
Bill Higgins, J.D., serves as the executive director for the California Association of Councils of Government, a statewide membership organization of councils of government and transportation planning agencies. Previously, he was a senior staff attorney and legislative advocate for the League of California Cities where he represented the League on issues relating to housing, land use and eminent domain.
Lauren Michele, M.S., will be contributing as a guest lecturer on “SB 375 Lessons Learned” where she will be providing an overview of the challenges and successes California has seen during its multi-staged SB 375 process. She will discuss this in the context of what has led up to SB 375, how legislative developments in other western states highlight California’s efforts, and why groundwork today sets the stage for future progress.
10% discount for organizations enrolling three or more people at the same time in the same course. All registrations must be submitted at the same time and fees paid with one check, credit card or purchase order.
10% discount for BIA Member
Join us for upcoming workshops in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and on the Web to help shape California’s future transportation system!
Caltrans is sponsoring workshops to gather early input from state, regional, and local agency staff and interest groups on the development of the California Interregional Blueprint. The California Interregional Blueprint will measure the effectiveness of the State’s and our regional partners’ plans to increase mobility, lower greenhouse gases, and create more sustainable communities.
Workshops will be hosted in Sacramento and Los Angeles, and feature informational presentations, large group discussions and interactive, real-time, electronic polling (allowing instant feedback). Workshops will also be simulcast on the Internet, allowing both in-person and webcast participants to participate in interactive polling exercises. (Please note: If you intend to participate via webcast, you will need a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and speakers.)
Register for the workshops by clicking on the button below:
After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with directions to the workshop. If you have questions, please contact Caroline Leary, Cambridge Systematics, at Cleary@camsys.com or via phone at (510) 879-4350 or 711 (TTY). For physical accommodations or other assistance, please contact Caroline as soon as possible but no later than two working days prior to the workshop you plan to attend.
Friday, November 4, 2011
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Sacramento Convention Center, Room 202
1400 J Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Caltrans District 7 Office, Room 01.040 A, B, C
100 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Posted on September 22, 2011 by Abbott & Kindermann
By Leslie Z. Walker
San Diego Association of Governments has prepared the firstdraft Regional Transportation Plan (“RTP”) to include aSustainable Communities Strategy (“SCS”), as required bySenate Bill 375. As drafted, the SCS will achieve the California Air Resources Board’s (“CARB”) 2020 and 2035 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. CARB staff reviewed the draft RTP/SCS and the quantification of the greenhouse gas reductions expected from implementation of the plan in an Informational Report. The report found that the RTP/SCS would meet the 2020 target of a 7 percent per capita reduction and would just meet the 2035 target of a 13 percent per capita reduction.
On September 16, 2011, the Attorney General submitted a letter commenting on the draft Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for the RTP/SCS. The letter criticizes the draft EIR’s analysis of local air quality and greenhouse gas impacts. It claims that the draft EIR’s analysis of local air pollution resulting from the RTP/SCS is inadequate because it focuses on whether the RTP/SCS conforms to a federally approved state plan to meet federal air quality standards. The letter further remarked that the draft EIR failed to discuss “the impacts of the increased air pollution that will result from carrying out the RTP/SCS on communities already severely impacted by air pollution.” The letter further criticizes the RTP/SCS for failure to propose adequate mitigation measures to reduce or offset the impacts on localized air pollution. Finally, the Attorney General alleges that the RTP/SCS is inconsistent with the State’s climate objectives because the per capita GHG emissions from cars and light-duty trucks increase after 2020.
Leslie Z. Walker is an attorney at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP. For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.
The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.
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.
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.
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.
Spinning Wheels: Funding limitations, competing priorities stall bikeway development
Story by John Schumacher | Photo by Mike Graff
As chief executive officer of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), McKeever oversees planning and funding processes for cycling transportation projects, so he’s interested in what works and what doesn’t.
As a cyclist, he’s looking for a ride to the office that is safe and smooth — as well as enjoyable and convenient.
He rides different routes, uses dedicated bike lanes and takes advantage of “road diets,” a concept that reduces the number of vehicle lanes or narrows them to provide safety and room for other users, on some midtown streets.
Day by day on his three-mile jaunts, McKeever, 56, notices changes that hint at Sacramento’s cycling future. Notably, he sees more bike commuters on the road now than when he began riding to work two years ago.
“You hit a critical mass once it becomes common enough and not an oddity or boutique behavior, then suddenly, more and more people take notice of it and start taking advantage of it,” he says. “Once you get a critical mass of cyclists on a route, motorists get used to the fact they’re there. It’s easier for (drivers) to adapt their behavior.”
McKeever says Sacramento is “on the cusp” of that transformation.
Plenty of challenges exist to what some planners and cyclists see as Sacramento’s emergence as a region that embraces cycling. Funding limitations, physical barriers and competing priorities stand between the Capital Region and its aspirations to join the likes of Minneapolis or Portland, Ore., as mid-sized cities with well-earned biking reputations.
Nearly 6 percent of Portland’s population regularly commuted by bike in 2009, followed by Minneapolis with 4.3 percent and Seattle with 2.9 percent, based on a League of American Bicyclists ranking of the nation’s 70 largest communities.
Sacramento ranked 11th with a little more than 2 percent of commutes made by bike, down from 2.7 percent in 2008, when it ranked fourth, but up from 1.3 percent in 2006.
Sacramento has 279 miles of on-street bike lanes and 82 miles of off-street bike paths, according to Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, up from 200 miles of on-street lanes and 60 miles of off-street lanes in 2006. Local planners say they hope to add to those totals and make the routes safer as a better, more efficient cycling transportation network emerges.
Several interests seek to influence the ultimate contours of Sacramento’s cycling panorama.
SACOG’s Regional Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Master Plan, updated in June, features more than 1,500 projects. Its goals include doubling the percentage of trips by cyclists and pedestrians from 6.6 percent in 2000 to 13.2 percent in 2020 and reducing by 20 percent the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed or injured in traffic accidents.
The bicycle advocates group is putting together its own cycling transportation blueprint, a plan meant to focus on 20 to 40 projects that could make the biggest difference in the region.
Regional cooperation with SACOG has been good, participants say, but local governments have their own plans, too. Individual cyclists also have opinions about how cycling planning should proceed.
Funding always is an issue, especially in an era of budget cuts. Through 2035, SACOG is planning $3 billion in spending for cycling and pedestrian projects plus $595 million for rehabilitation work out of its projected $36 billion budget, according to Matt Carpenter, SACOG’s Director of Transportation Services.
SACOG, which taps federal and state funding, last year awarded a total of $8.6 million to 12 local cycling/pedestrian projects. In Sacramento County, Measure A funds contributed $2.9 million to cycling/pedestrian projects in the past fiscal year, the Sacramento Transportation Authority reports.
In addition, Assembly Bill 147, which seeks to expand eligible uses for transportation mitigation impact fees for transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, is awaiting Gov. Brown’s signature. Currently, the use of transportation mitigation impact fees is limited to bridges and major thoroughfares, so a jurisdiction cannot use them to add or widen roads to support new projects. AB 147 would allow a city or county to use these fees to add or improve transit facilities such as bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths.
With multiple parties involved, visions of how the region’s bicycling system should look vary, but they are bound by common threads: Connectivity. Safety. Education.
SACOG’s McKeever says creating more connections is critical.
“I think connectivity is the right word to describe what we’re trying to accomplish,” he says. “For any mode of transit, you have to make it practical and convenient. There’s only so much inconvenience human beings are willing to put up with.” (To further that aim, Sacog.org includes a bicycle trip planner.)
Movement is being made toward defeating the blockades that hinder transit within the community:
Sacramento is nearing completion of a bicycle/pedestrian overpass spanning Interstate 80 to connect North and South Natomas.
Tricia Hedahl, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA), says she dreams of putting Eastern Avenue on a road diet, making it easier for riders to connect to the American River Parkway bike trail.
Ed Cox, the city of Sacramento’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, talks of plans for a bridge connecting Curtis Park to Sacramento City College and light-rail.
“Freeways, rivers, streets — all those things are formidable barriers to bicycling,” Cox says. “It’s a matter of how we overcome them. The barriers are what’s dividing us.”
Sacramento cyclist Jeffery Rosenhall, 38, bicycle commutes four miles to work, from Tahoe Park to midtown, and envisions a network of well-promoted cycling routes.
“If they wanted to go downtown, they’d have a route publicized as a safe route.
If they wanted to get to the American River Parkway or wanted to get to (Sacramento) State, there’s a system of bicycle-friendly routes that connect different parts of the city,” says Rosenhall, a community specialist for the California Department of Health, envisioning an ideal setup.
Consistent vertical signage and strong branding that alerts the public to recommended cycling routes are necessary amenities for a first-class cycling city, Rosenhall says.
Lauren Michele, owner of Policy in Motion, focuses on climate policy analysis, education and implementation relative to transportation and land-use projects. She desires improved connections within communities and says she supports Safe Routes For All, a grassroots movement to integrate schools with transportation planning.
“A huge amount of daily travel … is related to schools,” says Michele, who identifies the involvement of teachers and parents as important facets of the process for improving transportation options. “How can we get kids comfortable bicycling and walking to school? If we can do that, we’ve achieved bicycle nirvana.”
But safety is a critical concern. Two recent fatalities on Carlson Drive near Sacramento State — one at J Street, the other a block away at H Street — have prompted Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates to focus on the Carlson corridor even though it’s not in SACOG’s master plan.
“That’s a major thoroughfare,” Hedahl, the executive director, says. “If we can make that a top-notch, world-class facility, it will put Sacramento on the map.”
Attention to that area also could improve connections to M Street, a wide, residential street — far less busy than H and J streets — that long has been a preferred route through east Sacramento.
Cox, the city of Sacramento’s bike and pedestrian expert, says concerns about the Carlson corridor are valid, but he would not label it a priority.
“We’ve got needs all over the city that have been waiting for a very long time,” he says. “At the same time, we are doing work on (Carlson) through our traffic engineering division.”
Safety can be improved in ways other than expanding routes and making physical changes to existing ones, some experts contend.
“We don’t necessarily need more bike lanes,” says Michelle Murdock of Sacramento, a 47-year-old cyclist, editor and lawyer. “What we need is more control … slow things down.”
Rosenhall, the Tahoe Park bike commuter, agrees. A certified bike instructor who teaches adult rider safety, he says cutting speeds and traffic volume — and utilizing designated lanes — make a difference. His perspective is influenced in large part by rides he takes with his 3-year-old son.
“I can be comfortable on all but the hairiest streets,” says Rosenhall of riding by himself. But, “riding with my son definitely puts me in a category closer to everyone else.”
And for “everyone else,” safety is a top priority, says Chris Dougherty, a city of Sacramento planner and SABA board member.
“If we’re really trying to overcome the hurdles of getting more people on bikes, we need to do a lot more on infrastructure to encourage people and make them feel as safe as possible,” he says.
Dougherty commutes 20 miles round trip from Land Park to the Northgate/Del Paso area. He supports making changes to J Street, which is a heavily traveled east-west thoroughfare beginning in the heart of downtown and ending where it becomes Fair Oaks Boulevard near Sacramento State. Instead of three lanes of auto traffic — which characterizes the street until it reaches east Sacramento — he envisions two, leaving room for a “cycle track,” a 6-foot bike lane between parked cars and the sidewalk. Portland has had success using cycle tracks as part of its transportation system.
“What it does is it creates a buffer,” Dougherty says, before characterizing city cycling as “downright dangerous.” “That would be a good way to tackle good, safe infrastructure on some of the higher-volume streets.
“I feel safer riding downtown, midtown … through peak rush-hour traffic because it’s almost at a standstill. When they’re blowing by you at 45 miles an hour, it’s a very unnerving feeling.”
Experts and enthusiasts don’t look far for another potential solution, pointing to quieter streets running parallel to busier arteries as ideal bike routes.
“Roads that aren’t busy thoroughfares are very useful,” says Teresa Giffen, 34, of Sacramento, a technical editor for an environmental consulting firm. “I would never want to ride my bike down Watt Avenue.”
Yet, the need for cyclists and motorists to coexist is clear, and Cox of the city of Sacramento says cyclists must be educated about practical and lawful rules of the road.
“The biggest problem is riding against traffic,” he says. “The motorist has no expectation there’s going to be anyone there. (Drivers) want to turn right; you’re going to be looking to your left. You’re not expecting a cyclist to come out (from the right) riding in front of you.”
Cox also noted a pressing need for children to wear helmets when riding and to learn cycling etiquette.
“When kids are, like, 12, 13, 14, their parents get the impression they know enough about biking; ‘Go ahead and ride in the street,’ “ he says.
“Most people go out and ride in the street. They do some pretty crazy things. If there was any way we could focus more education effort on that group, I think it would really help us.”
What can Sacramento learn from other mid-sized cities?
Minneapolis offers 84 miles of off-street paths and 46 miles of on-street bikeways. That city has six funded bicycle boulevard corridors, areas where low-volume and slower-speed streets are made more cycling friendly through traffic calming, signage, pavement markings and intersection crossing treatments.
The city is one of four nationwide to receive $21.5 million in federal funds through the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot program, designed to increase bicycling and walking and reduce driving.
“What we’re most proud of here is our trail system and off-street paths,” says Shaun Murphy, Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Project coordinator for Minneapolis. “It’s so easy to get everyone out on bikes. Our off-street path system goes around the whole city. You don’t have to risk your life to ride.”
Portland, meanwhile, is the only city among the nation’s 70 largest to receive platinum status from the League of American Bicyclists. The city boasts 324 miles of bikeways: 202 miles of bike lanes, 76 miles of off-street paths and 46 miles of neighborhood greenways. Those 324 miles cost less than $60 million, about what one mile of urban freeway costs, according to Dan Anderson, a spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
Another Portland feature, Sunday Parkways, features rides on closed streets through different neighborhoods each week. A recent ride through North Portland drew 31,600 cyclists, the Bureau of Transportation reports.
The city’s goal is to increase from 10 percent to 25 percent the amount of trips made by bike by 2030, Anderson says.
“The best way to get people on bicycles is to offer them a safe and comfortable place to ride,” he says. “You don’t do that by putting them on the busiest roads, the most hectic intersections. You do that by building a network.”
Along with cycle tracks, Portland has “sharrows” — shared lane markings showing cyclists the best place to ride and reminding drivers to share the road — a feature Anderson says has helped.
Can cycling become a part of mainstream transportation in the Sacramento region? Local planners and cyclists say we’re already there in areas such as midtown, downtown, Davis and Folsom.
“But we’re falling behind,” Tricia Hedahl, the SABA executive director, says. “In the past, we were more reactive. … Now we’re shifting our focus and becoming more proactive.”
SACOG chief Mike McKeever says he expects reduced transportation funding will shift planners’ focus to smaller, yet beneficial, investments. The desired result, he says, is a region where cycling is a bigger, safer part of the transportation tapestry.
“I think we’ve made noticeable, tangible progress in the last 10 years,” he says. “Hopefully, we’ll see significant further increases.”
Strategic Growth Council Developing Strategic Plan
SB 375 Plans: California Air Resources Board Methodology for Reviewing Sustainable Communities Strategies
Regional Planning and Community Challenge Grants
State and Federal Funding Wizard – Prototype Released
Strategic Growth Council Developing a Strategic Plan
This year the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) has embarked on a strategic planning process to develop a set of specific goals, actions, and initiatives to guide their success over the next three years. Facilitated by the Sacramento State Center for Collaborative Policy, the SGC has received input from over 100 individuals and 71 different organizations through interviews and focus groups. On August 3, 2011 the Strategic Growth Council convened a large Strategic Planning Session where themes gathered from earlier interviews and focus groups were presented to and discussed by a broad group of stakeholders including members of the SGC. The potential goals, actions, and initiatives discussed that day can be viewed here in the strategic planning session workbook. Input received during the various forums will be drafted into a strategic plan in August. The SGC is expected to release a draft strategic plan for public input in September and approve the final strategic plan at their meeting on October 5, 2011.
SB 375 Plans: California Air Resource Board Releases Methodology for Reviewing Sustainable Communities Strategies
The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, SB 375 (Steinberg), requires each of the state’s 18 metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) that demonstrates how the region will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) through integrated land use, housing, and transportation planning to meet the regional GHG emission reduction targets set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Each SCS will be reviewed by CARB to determine if the proposed strategy will meet the GHG emission reductions target set for the region. Below is an overview of the approach CARB will use when reviewing the SCS’s. Further detail on the methodology can be found by clicking here.
Travel Demand Models: CARB will examine which travel models are used, how they were applied in the development of the SCS, and whether and how the MPO used other tools to capture the impact of SCS policies on GHG emissions. Additionally, CARB will study the models’ validation, calibration, and peer review process.
Model Inputs: CARB will evaluate whether or not the data, assumptions, and calculations each MPO uses are appropriate for SCS modeling. The model inputs will be evaluated based on publicly available sources of information (e.g. Institute of Transportation Engineers, Caltrans, Highway Performance Monitoring System, etc.).
Sensitivity Analysis: Sensitivity analyses examine the effect that specific changes within a model will have on model outputs. CARB will conduct sensitivity analyses on the most relevant variables or groups of variables to compare the results with empirical literature or other pertinent information to determine if the results fall within a reasonable range.
Performance Indicators: CARB will review the following performance indicators to determine whether the projected regional changes in per capita vehicle miles traveled, land use patterns, and vehicle activity patterns are consistent with the change in GHG emissions:
Passenger vehicle miles traveled
Commute trip mode share
Distance of housing and employment from transit stations
Bike and walk trips
The SCS will be included in the federally enforceable Regional Transportation Plan once adopted by the MPO. If the contributions of the SCS do not meet the GHG emission reduction targets set by CARB, the MPO will be required to submit an “alternative planning strategy” to meet the target. The “alternative planning strategy” will not be part of the Regional Transportation Plan.
Regional Planning and Community Challenge Grants – Notice of Funding Availability
The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development released their Notice of Funding Availability for Regional Planning and Community Challenge Grants. Please see below for further details on each of the programs.
Regional Planning Grant
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The Regional Planning Grant program will encourage grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure developments in a manner that empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to bring economic competitiveness and revitalization to a community.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Pre-applications for the program are due on August 25th, 2011. Once communities are notified that they have been approved for the final application process, those applications will be due on September 26th, 2011.
CURRENT FUNDING AVAILABLE: $67 million, from which not less than $17.5 million shall be awarded to regions with a population of less than 500,000.
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The Community Challenge Planning grant program will be competitively awarded to state, local, and tribal governments for efforts such as amending or replacing local master plans, zoning, and building codes to promote mixed-use development; building more affordable housing; and the rehabilitation of older buildings and structures with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local and neighborhood levels.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: This program does not require a pre-application. Final applications are due on September 9th, 2011.
CURRENT FUNDING AVAILABLE: $28.6 million, of which not less than $3 million shall be awarded to jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000
State and Federal Funding Wizard – Prototype Released
Several state agencies, including the Strategic Growth Council, Air Resources Board, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, as well as UC Davis have partnered on developing the Funding Wizard, a searchable database to locate funding across state and federal agencies for reducing the impacts of climate change and supporting sustainable communities.
In 2012, the Funding Wizard will be expanded to include additional funding opportunities, rebates, an online calendar, features for noticing upcoming grant deadlines and workshops, e-blast sign-up and automated distribution.
Conservation Strategy Group manages Sustainable California as a forum for organizations and agencies to share information and identify opportunities for individuals and organizations to engage in urban sustainability policy development and funding programs, focusing on activities in California.
Conservation Strategy Group provides email updates on what’s happening at the Capitol and identifies opportunities to take action in support of urban sustainability. We have also established an online resource through which information could be shared. Our hope is that the network would evolve over time so that participating organizations would also share information with each other.
All it took to get a state budget was to assume that the state will see $4 billion more in revenue than we thought before. Easy. That equates to $2 billion in revenue for every week the Legislature did not get paid . . .
But CALCOG members will want to be aware of a few items. First, the Gas Tax Swap deal remains in tact. Second, the governor used his line item veto authority to eliminate funding for 47.5 CalTrans positions to review impacts of local projects (PIDs) on the state highway system. He also eliminated nearly $150 M in Prop 1B appropriations to enhance local transit routes and feeder systems to high speed rail due to the lack of a comprehensive state rail plan. Also of interest to COGs with RHNA responsibility is the veto of funding for several HCD positions that review housing elements.
In addition, Counties were “disappointed but not disheartened” that Realignment lacks dedicated revenues and constitutional protections, and inversely, cities are fuming over the two-bill “extortion” scheme to take redevelopment revenues, which are arguably dedicated and constitutionally protected under Proposition 22.
Federal Reauthorization: Bridging a $300 Billion Gap
At a time when California is asking its MPOs and regional transportation planning agencies to do more, Congress may be planning on giving them less–significantly less. The story from Transportation Nation is that funding expectations are spiraling downward. Under the proposal unveiled by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Mica, funding for road and transit investment will be reduced by 35 percent. See the summary or full outline. Transportation for America has a concise summary and analysis here. In February, the Administration proposed $556 Billion investment plan over 6 years. The Mica proposal is for $230 billion. Transportation Issues Dailyhas posted a list (developed by Democrats) that estimates losses on a state by state basis that projects a $7.2 billion loss for California. There is a Committee hearing on July 12, but no language.
So far, besides typical partisian criticism, much of the immediate reaction has balanced some praise for some of the streamlining with very significant concerns about funding levels. Transportation Issues Daily has summarized several key reactions here, including a somewhat surprising response from the US Chamber of Commerce arguing for more funding. For more reactions, substantive and trivial, you can search Twitter under the #hashtag: “Micabill” (for those unfamilar with the term, you can Google “hashtag;” for those unfamiliar with Google, get help!).
So what does this mean? Will there be a bill before Sept 30, the day in which the current authorization expires? Who knows? The DC Streetblog reports that consideration of any bill before the August recess is unlikely (its not strategic to vote on spending bill before resolution of the debt service issue). But the National League of Cities reports that Congress is poised to take on the issue. Hmmmm.
Meanwhile, Senator Boxer has proposed a two year, $109 Billion reauthorization at current funding levels (plus inflation) and claims it will save 600,000 jobs. A good explanation of both proposals can be found at the AASHTO Journal.
The only thing that seems certain is that the uncertainty related to these revenue streams will remain for the short term future, which has its own consequences in terms of planning and project delivery.
Policy in Motion is tracking a handful of bills introduced this session pertaining to the integration of land use, transportation, housing affordability, and health within the context of sustainable community development in California. Below are summaries and links to legislative analyses for 21 relevant bills:
2011 Legislative Summaries—Updated June 18, 2011
AB 147 (Dickinson)—Subdivision Map Act
Expands the existing eligible uses for transportation mitigation impact fees to transit, bike and pedestrian facilities.
Status June 14: Read second time, amended, and re-referred to Committee on Government. & Finance.
AB 345 (Atkins) – Caltrans to consult with bike/pedestrian reps on traffic control devices.
Caltrans to convene an advisory committee of representatives from groups representing bicycle and pedestrian users of streets, roads and highways and consult with this group regarding the installation of traffic control barriers and/or devices.
AB 441 (Monning)–Health issues included in transportation plans.
Requires the California Transportation Commission to include health issues in regional transportation plans. The Office of Planning and Research would develop guidelines for local government and regional agencies to incorporate health (improvement) issues into general plans.
AB 650 (Blumenfield) – Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Transportation for the 21st Century
Requires task force to be comprised of twelve transportation subject matter experts to prepare a written report which would include findings and recommendations regarding the current state of CA’s transit system, costs of creating the needed system, and potential funding sources.
StatusJune 14: From committee chair, with author’s amendments: Amend, and re-referto committee. Read second time, amended, and re-referred to Committee onTransportation & Housing. Hearing set for June 21.
AB 676 (Torres)—Expands use of transportation funds.
Existing transportation expenditures are currently legally obligated for transportation related administration, operation, maintenance, local assistance, safety and rehabilitation projects. This bill would allocate remaining funds for the study of, and development and implementation of,capital improvement projects to be programmed in the state transportation improvement program.
AB 710 (Skinner) —Infill Development and Sustainable Community Act of 2011.
Eliminates minimum parking requirements for infill and transit-oriented development. Prohibits city or county from requiring more than one parking space per residential unit and prohibits requirement of more than one parking space per 1,000 sq. ft of commercial units for residential or mixed-use project in a transit intensive area. Also modifies definition of sustainable communities to include communities that incentivize infill development.
Status June 16: In Senate, referred to Committee on Government and Finance..
AB 819 (Wieckowski) —Enhance bicycle safety, complete streets.
This bill augments existing Dept. of Transportation responsibility for safety guidelines to include class IV bikeways, in addition to class I, II and III bikeways. The bill defines class IV bikeways as: “segregated bike lanes,” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles on streets and are demarcated by either a physical barrier or by distinct paint markings, or both, to minimize or prevent travel by motor vehicles.
AB 931 (Dickinson) —CEQA exemption rule for infill housing modification.
CEQA requirements are exempted for infill development if certain criteria are met. This bill would extend the current criteria for the preparation of a community-level environmental review from 5 to 20 years. It would also lower the density requirement for exemption from 20 to 15 units per acre.
AB 995 (Cedillo) – OPR report to legislatureon expediting Transit Oriented Development environmental review.
This bill would require the Office of Planning and Research, not later than July 1, 2012, to prepare and submit to the Legislature a report containing recommendations for expedited environmental review for transit-oriented development.
Status May 3: Do pass, re-referred to Committee on Appropriations. Amended May 11, re-referred to Committee on Appropriations.
SB 77 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) — Elimination of state redevelopment agencies.
Elimination of state redevelopment agencies (RDAs) and an orderly “wind down” of their responsibilities and assets. Local Govt successor agencies would be created to maintain certain existing RDA obligations. Elimination of state RDA’s has been identified as a method to balance the state’s budget. Property taxes that formerly went to RDAs would be directed to schools and public safety operations. The bill will result in $1.7 billion in additional funding for the 2011-2012 budget.
Status June 14:Motion to reconsider continued to June 16.
SB 132 (Lowenthal) — School sittings to reflect state planning priorities.
This bill would require the State Allocation Board to revise guidelines, rules, regulations, procedures, and policiesfor the acquisition of schoolsites and the construction of school facilities to reflect the state planning. This bill would also require that advice, standards, surveys, or information regarding the acquisition of school sites or the construction of school facilities provided by the StateDepartment of Education pursuant to this requirement reflect the state planning priorities.
This bill would eliminate the requirement of voter approval to create and authorize an infrastructure financing district. This bill would authorize a legislative body to create an infrastructure finance district, adopt an infrastructure financing plan, and issue bonds by resolutions by resolution, not requiring voter approval.
Status: May 23rd: Referred to Committee on Local Govt. Do pass Senate Governance and Finance Committee on April 27.
SB 310 (Hancock).–.Creation of the Transit Priority Project Program.
This bill would eliminate the requirement of voter approval for the creation of an infrastructure financing district and would authorize the appropriate legislative body to create the district, adopt the plan, and issue the bonds by resolutions. This bill would also create a streamlined permit process for development that met certain criteria and it would create a program to reimburse developer fees if a project was located within an Infrastructure Finance District.
SB 468 (Kehoe).–.An act to add Section 103 to the Streets and Highways Code, relating to transportation.
This bill would impose additional requirements on the departmentwith respect to proposed capacity-increasing state highway projects in the coastal zone, including requiring the department to collaborate with local agencies, the California Coastal Commission, and countywide or regional transportation planning agencies to develop traffic congestion reduction goals.
SB 535 (De Leon) — California Communities Healthy Air Revitalization Trust.
This bill would require a minimum of 10% of revenues generated from fees collected by the Air Resources Board from sources of greenhouse gas emissions would be deposited into a trust operated by the CA Treasury Dept. Funds would be in used in communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to mitigate health or environmental impacts of climate change.
Status June 16: Referred to Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, hearing date is June 27.
SB 907 (Evans and Perez)–.Master Plan for Infrastructure Financing and Development Commission
This bill would create the Master Plan for Infrastructure Financing and Development Commission, consisting of specified members, and would require the commission to prepare and submit a strategy and plan for infrastructure development in California that meets certain criteria to the Legislature and the Governor by December 1, 2013..