On Monday, December 7th, the Strategic Growth Council released their final guidelines for the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. Since the summer, Safe Routes to School National Partnership worked tirelessly with Sustainable Communities for All (SC4A) and the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership (CATL) to promote robust improvements and measures for active transportation to ensure the next round of AHSC funding increased walking and bicycling in communities throughout California.
In our comment letter with SC4A, we expressed our concern with the current model, CalEEMOD and the Transit and Connectivity Methods (TAC), due to the fact that it continues to undercount the true impacts from active transportation. We recommended the Air Resources Board (ARB) revise CalEEMod and the TAC to account for the higher GHG impacts of transformative projects such as protected bicycle lanes and other traffic calming measures that result in better connectivity, less people driving, and more people opting into bicycling or walking.
In comment letter with CATL, we recommended a number of improvements – specifically:
- A tiered approach to awarding points for projects that incorporated active transportation: We were grateful that the draft guidelines allocated 10 points for projects that incorporated active transportation improvements, but we wanted to see a scoring system that created incentives for more transformative projects. In our letter, we outlined a scoring system based on the level of innovation of the improvement – the projects that include more innovative active transportation improvements were awarded more points.
- 10 percent minimum floor for Rural Innovation Project Area (RIPA): We are supportive of the creation of RIPA, we believe this project area will ensure that rural areas receive funds from this program. However we believe 10 percent is not sufficient based on the need and opportunity in rural California. We asked the SGC to change the language from 10 percent target to 10 percent minimum funding floor to better express that 10 percent is only a minimum and not a maximum investment.
- Increase points for funds leveraged from the Active Transportation Program and traditional state transportation funding sources: We acknowledge that the draft guidelines already award 5 points for funds leveraged but we believe these guidelines can spur stronger coordination and planning from other state funding sources that reduce vehicles miles traveled and support community-driven projects.
Unfortunately, in our review of the final AHSC guidelines, we did not see significant changes or revisions from the draft guidelines. We will continue to meet with SGC staff to push forward these recommendations for future guidelines, and we will also attend the next SGC council hearing in December to express our recommendations to the council members. We encourage you to attend – see below for meeting details.
Date: Thursday, December 17th
Time: 1pm – 5pm
Location: California Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Hearing Room. 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 94812
Click here for meeting materials. And if you can’t attend in person, click here to access the live webcast on Thursday, December 17th at 1pm.