Plan Bay Area Preferred Scenario Released

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) released a draft preferred land use scenario toward the development of Plan Bay Area 2040. The Draft Preferred Scenario represents a regional pattern of household and employment growth by the year 2040, and includes a corresponding transportation investment strategy.

The Draft Preferred Scenario will be presented at several public meetings, before the MTC Commission and ABAG Executive Board adopt a final preferred scenario at a joint November 2016 meeting. This final scenario will form the foundation for Plan Bay Area 2040, slated for final adoption in 2017.

Public comments on the Draft Preferred Scenario should be submitted by October 14 to MTC via email at info@mtc.ca.gov.

None of the scenarios assessed by MTC and ABAG staff achieve the physical activity and health goals set by MTC. The Healthy and Safe Communities target is a decrease in negative health impacts of 10%. All scenarios assessed fall far short of that goal, with the draft preferred scenario only decreasing negative health impacts by 1%. (The 1% figure is still the best of any of the scenarios assessed.)

 

 

 

Cap-and-Trade Spending Plan Includes $10 Million for ATP!

UPDATE 9/2/16: Read our joint statement about the great news, on behalf of the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership)

We are excited to announce that a deal has been struck on how to spend revenue from the cap-and-trade program this year, and for the first time, a portion of the revenue will go into the ATP! In the Governor’s press release, announced yesterday, the deal includes $10 million for the Active Transportation Program. While not as much as we had been hoping for, it is a significant step for active transportation projects to receive funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). Currently, active transportation projects are eligible under the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC), but that grant program is primarily for housing projects with active transportation components added on as amenities or for infrastructure around the building site. There had been proposals to create a new Low Carbon Roads program that would fund active transportation projects with cap-and-trade revenue, but that idea did not make it into the final spending plan. We applaud the Governor, Assembly and Senate for reaching a deal that puts the money into an existing program that is heavily oversubscribed and funding great active transportation projects across the state. This additional $10 million can fund multiple projects.

Say tuned as we learn more information on how this money will be spent, and when it will be available.

 

Legislative & Budget Update: ATP & Transit Pass Bills Die, But New ATP Funding Proposed in Budget & Special Session Frameworks

As this year’s legislative session wraps up, we have a few updates to share, some good and some bad:

First, the bad:

  • ATP non-infrastructure set-aside bill dies: 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 made it as far as the Senate Appropriations Committee but unfortunately was never taken up for a vote before the deadline. So the bill will not be moving forward. Because no vote was taken, we are unclear of the rationale for leaving the bill on suspense. The bill had been amended in the Senate Transportation Committee in June, to reduce the overall set-aside from 15% to 10% and lump in planning with non-infrastructure (originally, planning would receive 5% and non-infrastructure 10%). We are exploring other ways to create a set-aside, as well as reintroducing the bill in the next session, so stay tuned.
  • Transit pass bill dies: AB 2222, which would create a statewide program providing free or discounted transit passes to K-12 and community college students, also failed to make it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill was stripped of its funding in an earlier committee (it would have come from the cap-and-trade program), so it faced an uphill battle to make it out of Appropriations without an identified funding source. Our partners at TransForm and Move LA have been working really hard on this bill and are exploring alternative ways to move the transit pass program forward, including reintroducing the bill next session. Move LA has written up a post-mortem on AB 2222 with additional information.
  • Transportation Equity Package goes 0 for 4: These two bills were the last of our four Transportation Equity Package bills, so we went 0 for 4. But rest assured we will come back next legislative session with a new set of bills that will advance transportation equity in the state!

And now the good!

  • Environmental Justice Bill Moves Forward: SB 1000, which would require cities to include environmental justice elements in their general plans, is still alive. The bill is moving on to the Governor’s desk.
  • Disadvantaged Communities Bill Also Moves Forward: AB 1550, which would increase the percentage of funding from the cap-and-trade program going to disadvantaged communities, passed as well. The current set-aside, set by SB 535, requires 10% of cap-and-trade investments go to projects located within disadvantaged communities and 25% to projects that benefit these communities. The new bill would increase the percentage required within from 10% to 25% and put a low-income provision into the requirement as well (the current disadvantaged communities definition in SB 535 is based on CalEnviroScreen). The bill moves on to the Governor’s desk.
  • ATP Funding from Cap-and-Trade: Budgetwise, we were pleased to see that we were pleased to see that the latest version of the Senate’s proposed cap-and-trade spending plan (a.k.a. the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Expenditure Plan), introduced as AB 1613, includes $5 million for the Active Transportation Program! While much lower than the Assembly’s proposed $100 million, this is the first time the Senate’s version includes ATP money. The Governor’s proposal still does not include any new ATP funding (instead proposing to create a Low Carbon Roads Program at $100 million that would fund active transportation projects), but both the Assembly and Governor should be releasing new cap-and-trade spending plans soon. With our partners in the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership, we released a statement commending the Senate for including new ATP funding in the plan. We also released another statement with our partners in the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition urging the Assembly to augment the $5 million and bring it closer to their recommended $100 million funding amount. The Assembly is expected to release a revised spending plan soon, and the Governor will likely follow suit as well. But uncertainly still remains on cap-and-trade spending given recent auction results, a pending court decision and pending legislation (SB 32 and AB 197) to extend the state’s climate targets. (UPDATE 9/2/16: The agree-upon deal includes $10 million for ATP! See our blog post with details on the agreement and our statement).
  • Transportation Special Session Funding Package Could Double Size of ATP! As part of the Transportation Special Session, which has languished since being announced last fall, a new funding package has been announced that includes $80 million for the ATP, with an additional $70 million possible through Caltrans reform efficiencies! We are excited to see that an additional $150 million could be available for ATP each year. With $120 million per year currently available, this would effectively double the size of the ATP! The funding for this would come from a package of increases to the gas tax, vehicle registration fees, excise taxes, cap-and-trade funding and other miscellaneous sources. The timing of the special session, however, remains uncertain. It is not part of the regular legislative process and must wrap up by the end of the year. There is talk of a lame duck special session, after the November elections, but this deal could prove too good to be true. Nevertheless, the state will have to address transportation funding in some way, so the ideas from this package are sure to live on and talks will continue next year if no deal is struck. We are closely watching these discussions with our partners and working to strengthen the overall funding package, which includes some other positive things like more money for transit, but also some CEQA streamlining for roadway projects that could be detrimental to the safety of people walking and biking. (UPDATE 8/25: The package is now in print as an amendment to SBX1-1).
  • California’s Landmark Climate Change Legislation Extended to 2030: Legislation to extend the State’s climate targets are moving to the Governor’s desk! SB 32 would require the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. It effectively extends AB 32 (2006), California’s landmark climate legislation which required the state to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. AB 197, a companion bill, would require additional legislative oversight. These bills are critically important to continue California’s work to address climate change, and we are excited to see them move forward and for California to continue to lead the nation on addressing climate change! Note that this legislation does not expressly authorize the cap-and-trade program, but it does remove some of the uncertainty for extending that program as well. The court case and auction results still hang over the program though.

The legislative session ends on August 31 and then the Governor has until September 30 to sign or veto bills. Stay tuned for another update in September as this year’s session comes to a close!

 

RTP Guidelines Update: Read Our Comment Letter and Next Steps

RTPG Cover PageAs mentioned in our July 1 post, the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans are updating the guidelines for Regional Transportation Plans for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) for the first time since 2010. The process kicked off in late June, and July was a busy month full of activity. There was a kick-off meeting on June 30, and the first draft of the new guidelines was released on July 6 with a 30-day comment period that ended on August 5. This was followed by two full days of workgroup meetings on July 13-14 in Sacramento on a variety of topics covered by the RTP Guidelines. During the week of July 18, the National Partnership co-sponsored regional workshops in LA, Oakland and Fresno with CPEHN, ClimatePlan and Public Advocates to gather feedback on the RTP process from community-based organizations working on health equity. In the latter part of the month, the National Partnership worked with over two dozen organizations to prepare comments on the guidelines, and led the creation of an 18-page comment letter that 19 organizations ultimately signed onto, that outlines recommendations on a variety of different issues that affect regional transportation planning, including:

  • Increase Access and Public Participation to the RTP Process
  • Strengthen Complete Streets Guidance to Empower MPOs and Incentivize Innovation
  • Provide Guidance on Integrating Public Health Framework for Transportation Planning
  • Institutionalize Public Health Review of RTPs
  • Provide Robust Guidance on Equity, Civil Rights, & Environmental Justice Issues
  • Update RTP Checklist to Meaningfully Screen for Compliance with Title VI & Environmental Justice Laws
  • Make the Modeling Process More Transparent and Inclusive of Active Transportation, Public Health and Social Equity
  • Incorporate Best Practices from Existing Sustainable Communities Strategies
  • Encourage Greater Consistency of the RTP with State, County, Local and Other Plans
  • Identify Consistent Performance Measures for All MPOs to Use
  • Support Inclusion of SB 743 Implementation in the Guidelines
  • Incorporate Conservation of Natural and Working Lands into the RTP Guidelines
  • Identify the Impacts of Freight Investments on Health Outcomes in Disadvantaged Communities
  • Require Greater Transparency in Sequencing of Transportation Projects
  • Provide Greater Guidance for Rural Areas Within MPOs

The full comment letter is available here. We also worked with Public Advocates and two dozen organizations to develop a series of Principles to Guide the RTP Guidelines Update Process. The list of principles is available here.

Other partners submitted letters as well:

The full log of comments is available here.

Next Steps: There will be another workgroup meeting in LA on August 11 where CTC and Caltrans staff will discuss the comments they have received so far, and also discuss topics such as modeling, active transportation, public health and social equity in greater detail. A second draft will be released sometime in September and there will be another comment period. The process is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, with CTC approval in December or January, and the new Guidelines going into effect in early 2017.

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

Also check out Streetsblog’s coverage of the RTP Guidelines here.

Stay tuned to this space for more updates on the RTP Guidelines as the process moves forward.

 

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.

 

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.

Read more of this post

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).

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