Strategic Growth Council Releases Draft Guidelines for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program!

In preparation for the next round of Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grants, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) recently released updated draft guidelines to further improve the program to promote the creation of walkable and bicycle-friendly communities! With other partners in the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership, the National Partnership provided input to ensure this round of grants funds projects that directly encourage walking and bicycling. Here are some of the changes we’re excited to report:

  • Infrastructure for transportation is now TWO categories. Now, there is sustainable transportation infrastructure which is transportation and transit capital costs which result in people switching from cars to roads. These investments can provide access to transit or further expand the bicycle/pedestrian network in the project area. And, there is transportation related amenities which are capital improvements such as bicycle parking or street trees that provide support for bicyclists and pedestrians. Creating two distinct categories for transportation will allow us to better track investments and support projects that create both infrastructure and amenities for walking and bicycling.
  • Quantifying greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from active transportation just got better because the guidelines now allocate less points for GHG reductions (30 points now, instead of 55 points, out of 100) and added 10 points for active transportation. Projects can receive a maximum of 10 points for capital improvements or programs that encourage the use of active transportation. This means that sustainable transportation infrastructure is eligible and transportation related amenities are not — which should create a further incentive for projects to investment in meaningful active transportation infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Parking for bicycles is a requirement for all affordable housing developments – there must be at least one secure overnight bicycle parking spot for every two units! And the updated guidelines limit parking costs as an eligibility for the AHSC grants, with the intent to phase out parking costs completely in the future. Funds will still be available for parking spaces for car share, electric vehicle charging, and zero emission vehicles.

These are just some of the highlights from the updated AHSC guidelines. We encourage you to read the guidelines and weigh in! The National Partnership will also continue to work with our partners and the SGC to ensure that these guidelines encourage robust bicycling and walking. Weigh in by attending the next SGC meeting (details below) or submitting written comments, which are due on Friday October 30th and should be sent to

SGC Meeting

Date: October 15th, 2015

Time: 10am – 1pm

Location: CalEPA Byron Sher Auditorium 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95812

2015 Legislative Recap: Wins! Next Step: Support #CompleteStreets in the Special Session!

Last week, Safe Routes to School National Partnership – in coalition with our partners – spent many hours advocating to legislators for stronger policies and additional funding to increase walking, bicycling, and ensuring children have safe routes to school. The legislative session ended last Friday, here’s the wins and the next step!

The Wins

  • SB 350 passed! In the final week, the National Partnership joined with others to support this landmark climate bill, which originally called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use, 50 percent increase in energy efficiency for buildings, and 50 percent increase in renewable energy – all by 2030! Unfortunately, oil companies launched a misleading campaign that resulted in the removal of the petroleum piece. But – as Natural Resources Defense Council and Coalition for Clean Air state – this is still a huge win for California. Dependent on the Governor’s signature, we now have ambitious targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy which will help us in our battle against climate change.
  • AB 8 passed! The National Partnership supported Assembly member Gatto’s bill to create an emergency alert system in response to fatalities or serious injuries caused by hit-and-run collisions. As we work with our partners and legislators to develop policies and funding to increase walking and bicycling in California, we know it is critical to ensure the safety of all users on the road – especially our children. This emergency alert system is yet another tool to ensure the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.
  • AB 744 passed! The National Partnership supported Assembly member Chau’s bill to reduce parking requirements for affordable housing developments in transit priority areas. Reducing parking minimums in development areas with safe and convenient alternatives to driving such as walking, bicycling, and transit is a proven strategy to reduce driving and ensure our children – and our communities – have access to healthier ways to get to key destinations such as school and work.

Now, these bills will go to the Governor’s desk, either to be signed into law or vetoed. Both AB 8 and AB 744 have been vetoed before so now, it’s more important than ever to send in letters of support to the Governor’s office for AB 8 and AB 744. Stay tuned for action alerts from us to support both of these bills!

Next Step: Support #CompleteStreets in the Special Session on Transportation!

The special session on transportation did not result in a deal by the Friday deadline. Fortunately, normal rules do not apply to special session, which gives us more time to ensure that any deal that increases transportation revenues also gives Californians’ real transportation choices!

  • Take action TODAY to support two key bills, SBX1-1 and ABX1-23, in the special session. Click here to send your letter of support!
    • SBX1-1 will ensure that any road maintenance project will include complete streets and develops comprehensive reporting language to ensure that these funds will also move us forward on our climate, health, and equity goals.
    • ABX1-23 will increase the Active Transportation Program by $125M to develop walking and bicycling networks that will connect schools, shopping centers, and jobs. This bill also ensures that new funding for road maintenance will prioritize disadvantaged communities.

25 Days to Make Walking, Bicycling, and Transit a Priority

We have just 25 days to convince Governor Brown and legislative leaders to provide funding for alternative transportation, including public transit and bicycle & walking projects, in this year’s transportation funding package.

To aid in this effort, the California Transit Association has launched iTransit, a grassroots-style advocacy campaign designed to connect everyday Californians with their representatives in Sacramento to further promote the benefits of public transit and other modes of alternative transportation.  Using cutting-edge civic engagement software, iTransit makes it easy for transit riders and advocates to email, Tweet, and post on the Facebook walls of their state representatives in support of including alternative transportation funding in the work of this year’s special session.

If you:

  • Want better transit service?  Go to iTransit  and tell your state reps to support new money for public transit.  #iTransit #fundtransit
  • Believe walking, bicycling, and transit is key to healthier environment & economy. Visit iTransit  to support money for alternative transportation. #iTransit #fundtransit
  • Know that California thrives when all transportation modes work. Visit iTransit to urge your state reps to invest in all forms of transportation. #iTransit #fundtransit

We urge you – don’t delay, act now to promote iTransit!

Weighing in on guidance for cap-and-trade revenue

Last week, over twenty advocates – including the National Partnership – attended workshops across the state to give input on the concept paper for the second investment plan and the draft funding guidelines for agencies administering California’s climate investments. Both of these documents are important if we want to increase walking and bicycling and promote social equity statewide: The concept paper is the first step to developing a three-year investment plan for the Greenhouse Gas Emission Fund (GGRF). The concept paper will eventually become the three-year investment plan that the Legislature will use to determine future investments from GGRF in the state budget. And the funding guidelines provide direction for the vast number of State agencies, local transit agencies, and academic institutions that oversee funds from the GGRF.

For the concept paper, the National Partnership offered the following recommendations:

  • All transportation investments should contribute to climate, equity, and health goals: Ensure that all of California’s transportation investments, especially new investments, contribute to achieving California’s climate, equity, and health goals.
  • Discuss the implications of additional funding to the Active Transportation Program (ATP): Provide information to shows how additional funding to the ATP could be invested in larger grants that increase walk and bicycle network connectivity, provide safe routes to school, and improve neighborhood mobility.
  • Integration should be at the forefront: Discuss in-depth the need for California to achieve greater greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and co-benefits through integration of sectors and strategies.
  • Provide a robust analysis of the Needs: Both the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program and the Active Transportation Program (ATP) suffer from oversubscription due to the high need for these funding sources.
  • Expand Co-Benefits to show the many benefits from sustainable communities: The co-benefits from investments in sustainable communities go far beyond air quality and public health. Expand the co-benefits section to highlight safety, environment, and transportation benefits.
  • Protect against unhealthy land uses in residential communities: Include measures that will protect communities from harm.  Direct investment into projects and methodologies that reduce harm to communities.

For the draft funding guidelines, the National Partnership recommended the following:

  • Ensure a Meaningful and Robust Public Process: Prioritize community engagement and strengthen public participation for disadvantaged communities.
  • Expand GGRF Funds to include planning activities that will lead to projects that reduce GHG: Invest GGRF Funds in pilot projects that reduce GHG and elevate best practices.
  • Maximize GGRF Co-Benefits to Disadvantaged Residents and Communities: Increase housing and transit opportunities and provide robust technical assistance to disadvantaged communities.
  • GGRF Investments Should Not Directly or Indirectly Harm Disadvantaged Communities: Zero Emission Vehicles in DACs does not provide a meaningful benefit. Half mile proximity and zip codes as a proxies for benefit to disadvantaged communities is inadequate

Safe Routes to School National Partnership will continue to work with our partners to provide input to ensure that the investment plan and funding guidelines increase opportunities to fund and support active transportation and promote social equity. Keep checking our blog for more updates on this!

Comments were due on Friday, August 14th for the funding guidelines. However, the comment period is still open for the concept paper! Click here to submit comments – all written comments are due on September 1st.

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

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

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.


MTC Announces Regional ATP Cycle 2 Workshops

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) announced three Bay Area workshops to provide guidance on applying for the Regional Competitive Active Transportation Program (ATP) Cycle 2.

Information and a flyer can be found here.

MTC Logo

Forty percent of the state ATP funding is being awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. At least 25% required to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million.

Topics for the workshops will include:

  • Statewide vs. Regional Program Guidelines
  • Timeline, scoring criteria, and application overview
  • Best practices on gathering data and lessons learned from Cycle 1
  • On-site discussion and Q&A with MTC and Caltrans staff

These sessions are open to anyone but will be tailored to new applicants, applicants seeking assistance in preparing a competitive application, and agencies or organizations interested in partnering on an application.


North Bay –

Wednesday, April 8, 2015; 1:00p – 3:00p

Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency

625 Burnell Street

Napa, CA 94559

Central Bay –

Tuesday, April 14, 2015; 1:00p – 3:00p

Metropolitan Transportation Commission

101-8th Street, 1st Floor, Auditorium

Oakland, CA 94607

South Bay –

Thursday, April 16, 2015; 1:00p – 3:00p

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

3331 N. First St., Auditorium

San Jose CA  95134-1927

Please register via email to Marcella Aranda at, no later than Wednesday, April 1. Please be sure make the subject line of your RSVP email: “ATP CYCLE 2 WORKSHOP – (location)”. Space is limited for each of the locations so please refrain from submitting an RSVP for multiple locations.


MTC Releases Regional ATP Cycle 2 Draft Guidelines

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today released the staff recommendations for draft guidelines for the 2015 Cycle 2 Regional Competitive Active Transportation Program (ATP). MTC Logo

Forty percent of the state ATP funding will be awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. Twenty-five percent of funding is to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million. The amount for this year will be determined through the state budget process.

The draft guidelines build off of last years’. Changes include awarding additional points if the jurisdiction of a project sponsor has passed a Complete Streets policy, or if the project is consistent with countywide goals as determined by the Congestion Management Agency.

MTC’s regional ATP call for projects this year will match the state’s to avoid any confusion between the two processes. The call for projects will be March 26, with a due date of June 1, 2015.

The MTC Programming and Allocations Committee will review the draft guidelines at its Feb 11 meeting. The full Commission will then finalize the guidelines at its meeting on Feb 25.



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