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CSG’s Sustainable California News :: SGC Strategic Plan; SB 375 Plans; Grants; Funding


Conservation Strategy Group’s “Sustainable California” News

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  • 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
  • Residential density
  • 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.




Community Challenge Planning Grant


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.   


The prototype was released in June 2011 and can be accessed here:


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.


Sustainable California

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.

This service is free and provided by Conservation Strategy Group.  For questions or comments, please contact Connie Gallippi at



Lauren Michele Releases Book on Transportation Planning in California — Highlighting AB 32, SB 375, SB 391, AB 857


Authored by Lauren Michele
Foreword by Dr. Daniel Sperling

Click to Purchase Book

Policy in Motion Becomes a Book!

While state and federal actions have been taken to set new requirements for vehicle efficiency and fuels, tackling travel behavior policies that reduce vehicle-miles-traveled and improve transportation network management is needed if California is to reduce its transportation sector’s 38 percent contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  California’s unique democracy and global economy is unparallel to any other union.  The State is setting new policy directions for sustainable living through transportation planning, but 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.


“This book examines California’s transportation planning initiatives since AB 32, with a nuanced eye toward the State’s particular rules, laws, politics, and institutions. Lauren Michele provides insights and lessons for policymakers and practitioners—in California and elsewhere—as they strive to create more sustainable communities and transportation systems.”

–Dr. Daniel Sperling; Director/Professor, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis

In a time where both state and federal efforts are pointing toward sustainable planning, Lauren Michele covers five key topics that are necessary for policymakers and practitioners to understand in order to implement sustainable transportation solutions at all levels of government:

  • The Four Circles of GHG Reduction Strategies from Travel Behavior:
    categorizes the existing literature on GHG reduction ranges from land use and transportation strategies into four major themes
  • Planning Theory and Frameworks in California:
    analyzes how environmental review frameworks, funding structures, and the land use/transportation planning process work at the local, regional, state, and federal levels
  • Implementing SACOG’s Blueprint and Metropolitan Transportation Plan:
    reveals what aspects of California government need policy reform in order to successfully implement SB 375’s “Sustainable Communities Strategies” through an analysis of SACOG’s Blueprint process, successes, and challenges
  • Recommendations for New Policy Frameworks in California:
    contains suggestions for statute changes, agency actions, and framework reforms that support AB 32, SB 375, AB 857, and SB 391 objectives
  • Creating a Federal Framework for Integrated Planning:
    provides recommended language for evolving federal climate/energy bills and the transportation reauthorization to support GHG reduction through the planning process


In a time where transportation policy efforts are pointing toward economic, environmental and equitable stewardship, Lauren Michele – Principal and Founder of Policy in Motion – supports planning practitioners, policy makers and public participants in understanding how sustainability policy impacts community values. Her combined knowledge as a practicing transportation planning consultant and sustainable policy analyst allows her to connect federal and state legislative priorities with local and regional implementation.

Lauren Michele crafts and implements transportation projects and regulatory frameworks which work toward complete community sustainability and people-oriented development – facilitating access to affordable living near quality jobs, food, schools and health services. A graduate of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and researcher with the University’s Urban Land Use and Transportation Center, Ms. Michele’s background extends from in-classroom teaching of undergraduate courses in transportation policy to experiential learning while living and researching multi-modal transportation planning in Europe.