We’re Looking for a Regional Policy Manager in Southern CA

At the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, our employees ignite our mission. It is the passion, commitment and deep knowledge of our staff that builds the momentum of our movement. Our employees work to achieve policy and programmatic change and to develop champions for safe walking, bicycling, and active living, enhancing livability and quality of life in all communities.

We’re looking for someone with the passion and expertise to impact funding and policy on active transportation and Safe Routes to School in Southern California. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is now accepting applications for a Regional Policy Manager in Southern California.

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ATP Cycle 3 Update: 456 Applications Received, Requesting $977.6M

The deadline for Cycle 3 of the Active Transportation Program (ATP) was June 15, 2016, and Caltrans has released the log of applications. There were 456 applications submitted requesting approximately $977.6 million. Only $240 million is available from ATP Cycle 3, demonstrating once again that there is high demand for funding for active transportation projects in California, and a great need to increase the amount of funding going to ATP. While the number of applications is down in this cycle (both Cycles 1 and 2 saw over 600 applications), the amount of funding requested comes close to matching the $1 billion plus that was requested in both Cycles 1 and 2.

Some other observations from reviewing the log of applications:

  • The log doesn’t specify which are Safe Routes to School projects, but by our count, 127 applications (27.9%) contain the word “Safe Routes to School” (abbreviated to SRTS/SR2S or written out) or “school” in their project description.
  • 110 applications have a non-infrastructure component (24.1%), and 38 are standalone non-infrastructure projects (8.3%). The majority of these are Safe Routes to School projects. In terms of funding, $22.5 million is requested for standalone non-infrastructure projects, about 2.3% of the total amount requested.
  • There are only around 17 applications (3.7%) with the word “plan” in the project description. Some of these may be Safe Routes to School plans or other projects that are not actual plans, but this number is low compared to previous rounds.
  • Information on projects in disadvantaged communities is not yet available as applications with this designation need to be vetted by Caltrans and the evaluators first.
  • There is widespread demand for ATP funding in communities large and small, rural and urban. The following pie chart breaks down the percentage of funding requested by Caltrans district (map of districts here). Among the “big 4” MPOs, the SCAG region requested approximately 37.6% , MTC 18.4%, SACOG 11.5% and SANDAG 5.9% of ATP funding (note that these regions and several others also receive 40% of the $240M to distribute through a regional process).

ATP by District pie chart

Next Steps: Now that the applications are in and have been logged, evaluation teams are being setting up and will be reviewing the applications in August. The awards for the state and rural pots of ATP funding are expected to be announced in October and approved by the California Transportation Commission in December.

 

Legislative & Budget Update: ATP Bill Moves Forward, Budget Deal on Transportation & Cap-and-Trade Pushed Back

A lot has happened since our last update just a month ago, and today the legislature left for a monthlong recess. Our most important bill this session has been AB 2796, which would create set-asides for non-infrastructure and planning within the ATP. The bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee 10-0 this Tuesday and now goes on suspense again. It will be heard in August by the Senate Appropriations Committee and then hopefully go to the Senate floor and on to the Governor. A several important amendments were made, however. First, the overall set-aside was decreased from 15% to 10%, and the language now reads that at least 5% must go to planning. So, non-infrastructure would be guaranteed at least 5% of ATP funding instead of 10% (and projects that are combined with infrastructure can only count the portion that is non-infrastructure in this set-aside). Second, the bill would go into effect for Cycle 4 so it would not affect the current Cycle 3, even though the bill would be passed before those awards are given out (since the application window closed on June 15, this is meant to ensure fairness for those already submitted). Third, the bill now includes language that would allow grantees to start ATP projects early with local funds and be reimbursed by Caltrans with the ATP funds at a later date. This is important for many local projects that agencies want to expedite before receipt of funding, which may be 2-3 years down the line the way the current ATP Cycles are being programmed (for instance, Cycle 3 will be awarded later this year but no funding will be allocated until 2019).

Another important bill passed out of two Senate committees (Transportation and Environmental Quality) this week. AB 2222, which would create a statewide program providing free or discounted transit passes to K-12 and community college students, was stripped of its funding and reference to the cap-and-trade program as a potential funding source, so while it is still alive, it needs a funding source in order to live on past the Senate Appropriations Committee. But major kudos to our partners at TransForm and Move LA for pushing this bill forward!

On the budget side, a budget deal was stuck this month but it did not include anything for transportation, nor any allocations from cap-and-trade. If you’ve been reading the news lately, you know that the cap-and-trade program is receiving a lot of attention for the lack of interest in the sale of May’s auction proceeds, as well as a pending lawsuit against the program and uncertainty that AB 32, which created the program, will be extended past 2020. These issues are expected to be resolved in a trailer bill in August, though the uncertainty will remain past that. We are watching closely to see what kind of funding active transportation will get from the budget and cap-and-trade, and working with partners to broader transportation reform, social equity and environmental justice considerations are reflected in the spending plans proposed by the state.

We’ll have another legislative update in late August, once the session wraps up and the budget for transportation and cap-and-trade becomes clearer.

Update to Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines Underway!

ct_logo_trans (1)The California Transportation Commission and Caltrans kicked off the update to the Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines on June 30 in Sacramento. This will be the first update to the guidelines since 2010. Since then, every region in California has created a Sustainable Communities Strategy as part of their RTP, incorporating land use strategies and goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many MPOs have gone through this RTP/SCS process twice since 2010, so now is an important time to reflect on lessons learned from going through that process and recommend changes as we move forward. We are especially interested in seeing how active transportation, public health and environmental justice are strongly incorporated into this update, building on the best practices we have seen in regions across the state, including the SCAG and MTC regions where we have staff working in-depth on RTP/SCS updates.

The process will be quick – the first draft was released in early July with comments due August 5th, and workgroups are meeting on July 13th and 14th to review the draft with an eye on specific issues. National Partnership staff will be participating on multiple working groups along with our partners to ensure that the guidelines elevate active transportation and equity. The guidelines are expected to be adopted by the end of the year, though we submitted a comment letter along with 17 other organizations asking that the deadline be extended to allow more time for feedback.

We will also be co-hosting several regional convenings in July with our partners at CPEHN, ClimatePlan and Public Advocates, to mobilize partners on the RTP Guidelines update and gather feedback that we can share in our comment letters and meetings with Caltrans staff. The workshops will be held on the following dates:

Los Angeles – July 18, 2016
12:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Community Health Councils
3731 Stocker Street, Suite 201
Los Angeles, CA 90008
Click to register for the LA Meeting

Fresno – July 20, 2016
12:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Fresno Center for New Americans – Training Room
4879 E. Kings Canyon Road
Fresno, CA 93727
Click to register for the Fresno Meeting

Oakland – July 22, 2016
12:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Public Health Institute – Large Conference Room
555 12th Street, 10th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607
Click to register for the Oakland Meeting

Registration is limited to sign up early if you are interested in attending. And stay tuned to this space for more updates on the RTP Guidelines!

For more information on the RTP Guidelines Update, check out Caltrans’ website.

MTC Supports Increased Funding for Climate Change Education

The Administration Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted on June 8 to reauthorize funding for the Spare the Air Youth (STAY) program, while directing MTC staff to pursue ways to increase funding even further.

IMG_20160608_112450

Tommy Bensko of the Bay Area Bike Mobile, and Kerri Heusler of Street Smarts Diablo 511 Contra Costa

 

STAY provides education on climate change and active transportation to Bay Area youth, including family bicycle workshops, mobile repair of bicycles in schools, high school Safe Routes to School, an annual youth and sustainability conference, and more. An evaluation found that STAY succeeded in reaching more than 30,000 students throughout the region, repairing more than 7,000 bicycles, and leading to a 22% average mode shift.

The program began with $3 million in 2009, and there was concern MTC would not continue any of the funding. Finally, a proposal was put forth by MTC staff to continue funding for a subset of grantees at $660,000 – a massive cut.

Bay Area organizations including the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, East Bay Bike, the Bay Area Bike Mobile, Ybike, the Center for Climate Protection, and 511 Contra Costa joined the National Partnership in providing testimony to the committee in support of the program.

The testimony made a significant impact. Virtually every commissioner present including MTC Chair Dave Cortese, Jason Baker, Mark Luce, Amy Rein Worth, Jake Mackenzie, Dorene M. Giacopini, and Scott Haggerty spoke in favor of expanded funding for the program. Scott Wiener moved to adopt the proposal with the direction of committee chair Adrienne Tissier that staff identify funding sources to increase the program. MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger expressed that he would work to find ways to address the commissioners’ sentiments. Advocates will work with MTC on continued progress to support vital non-infrastructure programs such as this.

New Poll Shows LA County Voters Strongly Support Safer Streets for Walking and Bicycling

iip-newsletter-logo-02Screenshot 2016-06-07 15.07.11Our partners at Investing in Place have released the results from a recent poll of over 600 LA County voters indicating their priorities for a for a sales tax ballot measure that would fund transportation improvements in LA County. This poll was funded in part by a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association. The survey found that support for using ballot measure funds on more freeway lanes (65% in favor) is actually lower than support for investments in making it easier and safe to walk and bike. For example, while 42% believe that improving freeways and roads should be the highest priority for the use of transportation dollars, a larger 44% believe the higher priority for County transportation funds should be “alternatives to driving, such as public transportation and making it easier to walk and bike to places.” 

The polling results strongly support investing more in active transportation, especially Safe Routes to School:

  • 83% total favor (65% strongly favor) using funds from the measure to make it easier and safer for children to walk or bike to schools, which polled higher than any other question asked in the poll.
  • 81% favor using ballot measure funds to improve crosswalks so they are safer for pedestrians.
  • 74% favor using ballot measure funds for fixing sidewalks, including more street trees, benches, wider sidewalks, lighting, and more separation from cars.
  • 61% favor using ballot measure funds on additional bike paths and bike lanes.

Screenshot 2016-06-07 15.16.41The full report of polling results is available here. Also check out Investing in Place’s great press release here.

Next Steps: On June 23rd, the Metro Board of Directors of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (also known as Metro) will decide whether to approve an expenditure plan for a transportation sales tax in the November 2016 general election. Metro’s proposal, if passed by voters in November 2016, would be the region’s 4th transportation sales tax measure. Investing in Place is organizing partners to attend the hearing and support greater investments in active transportation. For more information contact Jessica Meaney (jessica@investinginplace.org) and John Guevarra (john@investinginplace.org).

SCAG Regional Council Approves Regional ATP Guidelines

On Thursday, June 2, the SCAG Regional Council approved new ATP guidelines for the SCAG region, that will for the first time include a Supplemental Call for Projects! The guidelines, which still have to be approved by the California Transportation Commission, would set aside 5% of regional ATP funds for planning and capacity building projects, including Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure. SCAG is also proposing to apply the planning funding to all communities, not just disadvantaged communities, to allow a broader range of communities in each of the six counties in the region to be eligible to apply for planning funds.

The Supplemental Call for Projects will be released in the fall, likely September, and will only be open to projects whose costs are under $200,000, and are within communities that have not yet received an ATP award in Cycles 1 or 2. Total funding in each county will be based on population-based funding targets.

Stay tuned for more details as this call for project draws nearer!

Legislative & Budget Update: ATP Bill Advances, Budget Ask Still in Limbo

Things are heating up in Sacramento, both with the weather (a high of 105 degrees today!) and in the legislature, where all bills had to pass their house of origin by June 3. We are excited to report that AB 2796, which would create set-asides for non-infrastructure (10%) and planning (5%) within the ATP, passed 78-1 out of the California State Assembly on May 31, 2016! The bill now goes on to the State Senate. A few days later, AB 2222, which would create a statewide program providing free or discounted transit passes to K-12 and community college students, also passed out of the Assembly. Both bills will undergo a series of amendments as they move along but we are hopeful that both will make it out of the State Senate and to the Governor’s desk!

On the budget side, the Budget Conference Committee started meeting yesterday, and a budget must be passed by June 15. We are asking that the $100M allocated for a new Low Carbon Roads program in the Governor’s May revise budget instead be allocated for ATP. The Assembly budget proposal included this ask, but the Senate proposal did not. We are watching closely to see what the conference committee decides. Throwing a potential wrench into the budget negotiations is the recent news that the latest cap-and-trade auction proceeds generated far less money than anticipated. As a result, there is less money available across the board for all programs funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), let alone new programs. We still feel that additional funding for ATP should be a part of the budget deal, and are working closely with partners in Sacramento to make sure that happens. Stay tuned to this space for more details – things are moving fast as the budget and legislation moves forward this month!

 

 

PedsCount Summit Comes to Long Beach in June! Registration Open Until May 25!

unnamedJoin California Walks on June 6 & 7, 2016, in Long Beach, California, for the 2016 PedsCount! Summit. This year’s theme is Unlocking Community Vibrancy, Health and Prosperity for All Walks of Life. Discussions will be held regarding the role of youth and community advocates in creating walkable communities, the intersectionalities of walking and equity, and how to address gentrification in walkable districts. Our staff will be attending and presenting on Safe Routes to School plans in Southern California, and the latest Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy approved by SCAG.

The latest program updates are available here and registration is available here until May 25.

California Walks is also looking for volunteers for PedsCount! 2016. If you are interested in volunteering apply today. Volunteers who serve 3 or more shifts will receive full access to all Summit activities and events. Volunteers who can cover two shifts on the same day can attend all summit events for that day. For more information about PedsCount! 2016 visit californiawalks.org/pedscount2016.

Funding Opportunity: Highway Safety Improvement Program Call for Projects

ct_logo_trans (1)Caltrans has announced the Call for Projects for Cycle 8 of the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).The application deadline is Friday, August 12, 2016. Approximately $150 million is available.

There will be a webinar on Thursday, May 19, 2016 to discuss details about the Call for Projects, including eligible projects and details on filling out the application. Details on the webinar can be found here.

For program guidelines, application forms and other details regarding this Call for Projects, please visit our HSIP Cycle 9 web page.

If you have any questions, please contact your Caltrans District Local Assistance Engineer (DLAE).

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