Getting ready for Round 2 of the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Program!

In late June, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) approved the staff recommendations for the first round of awards for the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. Out of 147 applications submitted, only 28 projects were awarded from the $120 million available.  However, with these awarded projects, it is estimated that we’ll see 723,286 metric tons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions – that’s the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the road for a year! And around 75 percent – or $92 million dollars – was awarded to disadvantaged communities. This is a huge step forward for these communities, which have suffered from years of underinvestment and neglect. Finally, around a quarter – or $32 million dollars – of AHSC funds went towards transit, walking and bicycling. These are big wins for California!

While there were big wins with the AHSC program, there were also places where the program could be improved to better support and integrate walking and bicycling into communities. For example, only 10 percent of the awarded AHSC projects went to active transportation!  In July, the SGC hosted two “Lessons Learned” workshops in both Northern and Southern California to hear from partners on what worked well and what could be improved. At these workshops, a number of groups – including the National Partnership – attended to suggest key changes to help the AHSC Program better implement its goals. Click here for more information on the Lessons Learned workshops!

For Round 2, the National Partnership recommends the following for the AHSC Program:

  1. Increased Transparency: Ensure the public understands how these projects successfully integrate affordable housing, active transportation, transit, urban forestry, green space and conservation by posting all applications and scoring evaluation criteria on-line.
  1. Creation of Technical Advisory Committee: Develop a technical advisory council of external stakeholders and key agency staff to guide the staff through the AHSC cycle. This will improve transparency and public participation.
  1. Remove key barriers to successfully fund transportation projects – specifically bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure – that will result in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG): Transportation and housing projects are planned and implemented at different scales and timelines, with different approval processes and funding constraints. Remove barriers such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) clearance threshold requirement from transportation projects so strong transportation projects that reduce GHG can apply for AHSC funds.
  1. Maximize Co-Benefits on Community Identified Priorities: There are many benefits for projects funded from the AHSC program, such as improved air quality and greater economic development. These co-benefits should be considered along with GHG reduction and extra points should be awarded for projects that provide multiple benefits.
  1. Strengthen ICP to Better Serve Rural and Small Urban Communities: The current transit requirements in the guidelines exacerbate disinvestment and limits GHG reduction strategies outside of an urban context. The program should better address opportunities for transportation investment in rural, unincorporated, and small urban communities.
  1. Improve Modeling Tools to Better Quantify GHG reductions from Active Transportation: The current modeling tool for the AHSC Program does not distinguish between projects more or less likely to create mode shift. In addition, modeling for active transportation primarily focused on access to transit when most walking and bicycling that replace short trips does not involve transit. The current model needs to be updated to address these concerns or if the model cannot address these issues, the guidelines need to be updated to create scoring incentives based on the co-benefits above.  
  1. Leverage other state funding sources such as the Active Transportation Program (ATP): One of the AHSC’s enabling statues is to increase options for mobility, including the implementation of the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The guidelines should increase points for projects leverage funds from the ATP.
  1. Strengthen Community Engagement Provisions: The program should require applicants to explain what steps were taken to ensure public participation and explaining how the public participation process resulted in project proposal where community identified needs emerged and are meaningfully reflected in the projects.

The National Partnership worked with the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership (CATL) to submit comments, click here to see the full recommendations for the AHSC Program. We are excited for this program and believe it can be a model for other state funding sources. We will continue to work with our partners and agencies to ensure that the AHSC is a robust program that supports all elements of healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities.

California’s Transportation Funds Make Slow Strides to Sustainability

It’s increasingly understood that if California wants to meet its ambitious climate goals, we need to move away from transportation and land use planning that centers around the automobile. The state needs to align its transportation funding to support the creation of livable, healthy communities that integrate walking and bicycling to school, work, home, and key destinations. The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is one of the state transportation funding sources that has traditionally lacked strong ties to our state’s sustainability goals and primarily funded big, expensive highway projects. In fact, 81 percent of the 2014 STIP went to highway expansion while only 2 percent funded active transportation.

Over the past year, the National Partnership worked with key statewide partners to better align the STIP with our state’s ambitious goals to shift funding away from highway expansion to focus on creating livable communities where residents – especially children – could safely walk or bicycle. Our work has focused on shaping the 2016 STIP guidelines to better reflect California’s regional and statewide goals. Last week, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) held a workshop to update stakeholders on the 2016 STIP.  And there was some good news! From our previous comment letter to our most recent one, we saw the following improvements in the draft 2016 STIP guidelines:

  • Recognition of state goals: The 2016 STIP will now recognize regional and statewide goals and objectives in the improvement of the state’s multimodal transportation system
  • Simplified Performance Measures: Performance Measures went down from 34 to 14! They now focus on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), mode share, and fatalities/injuries per capita per mode
  • Improved transparency: the CTC will host workshops in Northern and Southern California on the Interregional Transportation Improvement Plan (ITIP) and all regional agencies will post their Regional Transportation Improvement Plans (RTIPs) on-line
  • Consideration of Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-30-15: The 2016 STIP guidelines require regional agencies to consider the Executive Order – which calls for 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – when considering new projects for the 2016 STIP
  • Identify the Exemptions: Regional agencies will now need to identify which proposed or current transportation projects are exempt from SB 375 – which set GHG reduction targets for each of the region’s transportation plans.

While we celebrate these improvements, there is still more work to be done to ensure that this state funding source prioritizes walking and bicycling. Right now – due to lack of funding – it is likely that the 2016 STIP Fund Estimate and Guidelines will be delayed from the original August adoption date. With that delay, the National Partnership will work with our partners to submit a follow-up letter to further emphasize that the 2016 STIP must prioritize transportation projects – specifically bicycle and walking – that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support our state goals.

For those who want to get involved, please email Chanell at chanell “AT” saferoutespartnership “DOT” org

Lessons Learned from the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Workshops

Last month, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) announced the awards from the first round of Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grants, allocating $120 million to 28 projects around the state that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by building affordable housing and integrating pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-friendly infrastructure with strategies that promote conservation and urban forestry. Right now, the SGC is holding workshops in both Northern and Southern California to gather feedback on the guidelines. In both regions, National Partnership staff shared comments with the Council and staff. If you want to weigh in on the AHSC guidelines, send your comments to AHSC@sgc.ca.gov. Comments are due on July 31st.

SPECIAL SCAG FORUM

In Southern California, SCAG will host a forum on the AHSC program on Thursday, August 6 from 1:00-3:00pm. RSVP here.

More funds for transportation with Governor’s extraordinary session!

In June – immediately following passage of this year’s state budget – Governor Jerry Brown called for an extraordinary session to create a permanent  funding source to maintain and repair the state’s transportation and infrastructure. California’s transportation system is in jeopardy: investments have not kept up with the demands on the system which has led to decay and deterioration of our current transportation system. This session is critical to provide permanent revenue that will revive our transportation system and infrastructure.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership worked with key partners to submit recommendations to the Legislature ensure that the revenue supports our state’s ambitious climate goals as stated in AB 32, SB 375, SB 391, and the Governor’s Executive Order B-30-15. Specifically, we recommend:

  • This revenue should ensure that all transportation projects – including maintenance projects – reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • All transportation investments prioritize the mobility and safety needs of disadvantaged communities and avoid negative impacts on these communities
  • Maintenance projects should improve multimodal access and create complete streets
  • All investments should avoid impacts, if not enhance California’s natural resources, wildlife movement, and agricultural lands
  • Invest in transit by leveraging GGRF funds and increasing ridership

Click here to read our full recommendations. If you want to get involved, please contact Chanell at chanell@saferoutespartnership.org.

Two New National Partnership Reports Explore Equity and Violence Prevention in Active Transportation

We all need transportation to get to school and work, buy food, find housing, and live our daily lives. But low-income people and people of color in the United States face transportation hurdles that can mean that just accessing basic needs is time consuming, dangerous, and almost impossible – and that can include the trip to school.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has released two new reports that explore the issues that arise when social inequities and the threat of violence create barriers to active transportation and opportunity for low-income communities and people of color. These publications were made possible through a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association.

At the Intersection of Active Transportation and Equity: Joining Forces to Make Communities Healthier and Fairer explores the complexities of equitable active transportation and the issues that arise at the junction of efforts to advance walking and bicycling and work to increase health, fairness, and opportunity for all communities.

Taking Back the Streets and Sidewalks: How Safe Routes to School and Community Safety Initiatives Can Overcome Violence and Crime provides a primer for Safe Routes to School professionals looking to address community safety threats that may discourage or endanger students walking or bicycling to school, explains the relevance of Safe Routes to School to violence prevention proponents, and sets out strategies for collaborating to reduce violence and crime, and increase safety and health for children and youth.

LA Metro Holding Public Workshops on Active Transportation Strategic Plan

Screenshot 2015-07-21 16.16.23LA Metro has announced seven public workshops to provide input on the countywide Active Transportation Strategic Plan. The workshops will:

  • Gather input on improving first and last mile access to transit and improvements to the regional network of walking and bicycling facilities, including shared-use paths and on-street bikeways;
  • Explore opportunities for supporting local and regional partners to get these projects and programs implemented.

Workshop Dates (see this flyer for additional information):

Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 4-6pm: San Gabriel Valley & Surrounding Area

Grace Black Auditorium

3130 Tyler Avenue

El Monte, CA 91731

(Co-hosted with San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 4-6pm: Westside & Surrounding Area

Veterans Memorial Building

4117 Overland Avenue

Culver City, CA 90230

Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 4-6pm: Central LA & Surrounding Area

Union Station Historic Ticketing Concourse

800 North Alameda Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Thursday, August 13, 2015, 4-6pm: North County & Surrounding Area

Cultural Center Room

38350 Sierra Highway

Palmdale, CA 93550

Monday, August 17, 2015, 4-6pm: South Bay & Surrounding Area

Lawndale Community Center

14700 Burin Avenue, 3rd fl

Lawndale, CA 90260

Monday, August 24, 2015, 4-6pm: Gateway Cities & Surrounding Area

16401 Paramount Boulevard, 2nd fl

Paramount, CA 90723

(Co-hosted with Gateway Cities Council of Governments)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 4-6pm: San Fernando Valley & Surrounding Area

150 N Third Street, Room 104

Burbank, CA 91502

(Co-hosted with San Fernando Valley Council of Governments)

Screenshot 2015-07-21 16.16.12

About the Plan

LA Metro is currently developing an Active Transportation Strategic Plan (Plan), which will identify opportunities for the agency to support and fund active transportation infrastructure and programs, seek to maximize the benefits of our region’s transportation investments, and identify opportunities for supporting local and regional partners to get these projects and programs implemented.  The Plan is intended to build on the local and sub-regional bicycle and pedestrian planning work underway and weave together a cohesive strategy to support an integrated multimodal transportation system.  For more information, see the project website.

MTC Proposes Funding Safe Routes to School for Six More Years

Staff for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) have proposed continuing to fund the Regional Safe Routes to School (RSTS) program for an additional six years at $5 million per year.

MTC Logo

This good news represents a full funding of $25 million for Cycle 2 of the One Bay Area Grant (OBAG), as well as a restoration of full funding for the final supplemental year of OBAG 1, 2016-2017. Originally, funding for that year had been cut in half, but advocates and MTC commissioners raised concerns about those cuts at a meeting last December.

The funding proposal was presented to MTC’s Programming and Allocations Committee at an informational hearing mid July, but an actual vote will not come till later in the year.

In a shift from earlier in the year, MTC is also recommending maintaining the process for disbursing funding according to school enrollment figures, rather than using the OBAG formula, which would have changed the amount of funding that went to each county while holding the regional total constant. By keeping the original formula, the RSTS program will remain essentially unchanged.

The OBAG 2 proposal also advances an alteration of the region’s Complete Streets requirement that had been contained in OBAG 1: Instead of requiring every jurisdiction to update their General Plan circulation element, MTC proposes requiring jurisdictions to pass their model policy resolution with its minimum criteria, or certify that the General Plan currently meets the Complete Streets Act criteria. What’s different from last cycle is that a jurisdiction can’t self-certify a General Plan if it hasn’t been updated since 2010. Jurisdictions with older circulation elements will either need to update them or pass the MTC resolution.

 

SCAG Environmental Justice Analysis: 33 Groups Sign On to Comment Letter!

Screenshot 2015-07-17 17.27.13The Safe Routes to School National Partnership joined with 32 other partners in the Southern California region to write a comment letter to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) on its environmental justice analysis. This analysis is an integral part of the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS), which is being updated right now. The analysis is an opportunity for both policymakers and the public to understand the impact that regional transportation investments and land use decisions have on low-income people and communities of color. The aim is to take action to avoid having these groups shoulder a disproportionate share of the negative impacts and to ensure they get a fair share of the benefits of these public investments. We ask SCAG to commit to measuring active transportation usage and safety in the performance measures; map accessibility to schools, parks, jobs and other destinations; study the impact of gentrification and displacement on the region’s disadvantaged communities; and include more sub-regional analysis of health and environmental impacts. To view the full letter, click here. SCAG has also released the analysis framework for the environmental justice analysis, which is available here.

Comment Letter on SCAG Environmental Justice Analysis

2016 Environmental Justice Analysis Proposed Framework

2012 Environmental Justice Analysis

SCAG Environmental Justice homepage

SCAG Update: Active Transportation Working Group Meeting on July 29, plus August Policy Meetings.

unnamedThe Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is well underway with its 2016 update to its Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS). SCAG staff will give an update on the Active Transportation component on Wednesday, July 29 from 1:00-3:00pm. The meeting will take place at SCAG’s offices in downtown LA, with videoconferences options from its regional field offices, as well as a call-in option for those who cannot make it in person.

You can RSVP to attend or call in here. Meeting details are below:

The purpose of the Active Transportation Working Group is to receive comments and recommendations regarding the active transportation component of the 2016-2040 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. In addition, the working group will explore ways to collaborate on planning, funding and implementation of regional active transportation solutions.

Agenda

  1. Introductions
  2. Draft 2016 RTP/SCS Active Transportation Policies, Strategies and Actions
  3. Active Transportation Modeling for 2016 RTP/SCS
  4. Active Transportation Safety and Encouragement Campaign Messages and Press Kit
  5. Update on Active Transportation Health and Economic Benefits Study
  6. Next Steps

August Policy Meetings

SCAG will also be holding a series of policy meetings in August to provide information on the RTP/SCS, as well as two workshops on state funding programs: the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funding (cap-and-trade) program and the Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant program.  Full details are below. Dates & times are subject to change. Check the SCAG calendar for full details.

Thursday, August 6, 10:00am-12:00pm: Joint Policy Committee & Regional Council Meeting

Thursday, August 6, 1:00-3:00pm: California Gold: Bringing Cap-and-Trade Dollars to Southern California (Registration required – RSVP here)

Tuesday, August 18, 5:30-7:30pm: Environmental Justice Workshop

Thursday, August 20, 10:00am-12:00pm: Joint Policy Committee & Regional Council Meeting

Thursday, August 27, 10:00am-12:00pm: Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Workshop

Fresno County Issues Call for Regional ATP Projects

The Fresno Council of Governments (COG) has released its call for Regional Active Transportation Program (ATP) projects. 

The Fresno COG Regional ATP Call for Projects will begin on June 26, 2015 and close on August 7, 2015. The guidelines, application instructions, and full application are available here

ATP funds from the State of California provide an important funding source for active transportation and Safe Routes to School projects. Forty percent of ATP funds must be distributed to Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) in urban areas with populations greater than 200,000. An estimated $3.9 million will be available in this second cycle for the Fresno COG Regional Competitive ATP.

ATP requirements include a process to ensure that no less than 25 % of overall program funds shall benefit disadvantaged communities.  Regional ATP funds must be selected through a competitive process by MPOs in accordance with the state California Transportation Commission (CTC) guidelines. Projects selected by MPOs may be in either large urban, small urban or rural areas.

As discussed on our resources pages, projects that address Safe Routes to School, work with public health departments and include outreach to community members and community-based organizations have an improved chance of success!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,365 other followers

%d bloggers like this: