Cap-and-Trade Program Update: AHSC Awards Announced; Guidelines for Many Cap-and-Trade Programs To Be Released This Fall

header-organizationheader_organizationWith this year’s cap-and-trade revenue budget (also known as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund or GGRF) finalized by the Governor’s signing of AB 1613, the agencies implementing the programs that receive this funding are busy promulgating guidelines for the next call for applications. The full list of programs receiving funding from the budget is available here (note that there is also a continuous appropriation to these programs that is separate from the annual budget process). Here’s a quick summary of the programs that affect active transportation:

  • Active Transportation Program (ATP): The California Transportation Commission has released guidelines for how to spend the $10 million in ATP funds received from GGRF, detailed in a separate blog post here.
  • Transformative Climate Communities: This is a new program created by AB 2722, and the GGRF budget provides $140 million. It will provide funding for “broad-based greenhouse gas emission reduction projects that provide local economic, environmental and health benefits to disadvantaged communities.” The guidelines have yet to be released, so we do not yet know how active transportation projects will fit into these grants, but the Strategic Growth Council has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that targets three specific locations for this funding: the City of Fresno (50%), the City of Los Angeles (25%) and a yet-to-be-determined third location. Comments on this proposal are due November 7. For more information on the TCC program, check out this website.
  • Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities: The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) just announced the award recommendations for the 2016 cycle. The staff report lists awards for 25 projects around the state, totaling almost $290 million. SGC received 130 applications asking for over $1.1 billion, so this program, like ATP, is heavily oversubscribed. Projects were scored on twelve criteria focused on greenhouse gas emission reductions and policy goals. Altogether, the funded projects are expected to reduce an estimated 350,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of funding will to go affordable housing projects (80%), but about one-fifth ($55 million) will go to “sustainable transportation” infrastructure and amenities, 87% of which will be spent on infrastructure improvements. This is a significant change from the last round of funding, where most of the funding went to amenities like bike racks. This was the result of a change in the guidelines between the first and second cycles that distinguished between infrastructure and amenities. In terms of geographic distribution, which has been a politically sensitive issue with AHSC and other cap-and-trade programs, approximately one-third of awards will go to the Bay Area (MTC) region and a quarter to the Southern California (SCAG) region. With respect to disadvantaged communities, 22 of the 25 projects (85%) will benefit disadvantaged communities, totaling $246 million in investments. The full list of funded projects is available here and the project summaries are available here. The guidelines for the 2017 cycle of AHSC will be released in early 2017 and the call for applications in the spring. In the meantime, SGC plans to hold listening sessions around the state this fall to learn what is working, and what is not, with the current guidelines and application process. This will also allow SGC to observe several cap-and-trade auctions so that it can determine the approximate amount of funding it will receive next year.
  • Sustainable Communities Planning Grants & Incentive Best Practices Pilot: SGC has also announced another round of funding for its popular Sustainable Communities Planning Grants program. The funding comes from Proposition 84 revenue rather than cap-and-trade, however. The draft guidelines have been released in advance of the October SGC meeting. This time there is a focus on “Incentive Best Practices Pilot” Programs, which are meant to help local governments implement best practices and create replicable pilots throughout the state.  Pilot applicants may apply for up to $50,000 to support the development and/or implementation of a specific portion of a land use plan, land protection or management practice, or development project, that targets sustainable development and the State’s climate policies with the express intent of 1) implementation of that project or plan; and 2) identification of a best practice to share amongst land use planning and policy peers. This small grant is not intended to fund a long-range plan or project in its entirety. Proposed Pilot applications must support local implementation of state policies, with a focus on creating more resilient communities through climate adaptation and mitigation, with a priority focus on disadvantaged communities. More details are available in this staff report and the draft guidelines document.

Other Guidelines: Several other programs including Low Carbon Transit Operations (LCTOP) and Urban Greening will be releasing guidelines for their next round too. We will be closely following these and other cap-and-trade guidelines with our partners in the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition and keep updating this blog as we gather new details.

ATP Update: Guidelines Released for New Funds Received from Cap-and-Trade Revenue

2015 ATP Simple BannerThe California Transportation Commission (CTC) has received scores from evaluators on the Cycle 3 applications, and is currently reviewing them and making staff recommendations. The list of awarded projects is expected to be released on October 28.

In the meantime, last month we shared the news that the Governor and state legislature came to an agreement on how to spend a portion of cap-and-trade revenue as part of this year’s budget, and ATP is receiving $10 million. Money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) is subject to different requirements than the federal and state funds in the ATP right now, so the CTC has released a set of guidelines for how it plans to spend this money. They also will be holding a workshop this Wednesday, October 5 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Sacramento and by teleconference (details here).

Here’s what we know so far about how this money will be spent:

  • The CTC will not do another Call for Projects for this funding, but instead use it to supplement the Cycle 3 statewide competition. Given that scores for those applications are being finalized, after the CTC announces the awards in late October, they will notify the awardees and ask if they want to receive their funding from the GGRF instead of the traditional federal & state funds. If they do not get enough applicants that are interested from the statewide competition, they will apply it to the small urban & rural and MPO competitions and ask them if they want to be considered after those awards are announced in the spring.
  • The funding must be programmed and allocated by June 30, 2018, which is sooner than the current Cycle 3 applications (FY 2019-20 and 2020-21). As a result, Cycle 3 awardees will be asked if they can expedite their projects to meet that deadline if they want to be eligible for this funding. There will be no project extensions allowed so applicants must be able to complete their projects by this date.
  • The definition of “disadvantaged communities” is more limited under the GGRF. Only CalEnviroScreen can be used to demonstrate your community is disadvantaged. So Cycle 3 applicants interested in this funding must supplement their application with their CES score. But the CTC does intend to allocate at least 50% of these funds on projects within or that directly benefit disadvantaged communities.
  • In addition to CES, applicants will also have to fill out a few other supplemental questions, including a project request form, quantification of greenhouse gas reductions from the project (using methodologies from the Air Resources Board), and details such as average daily traffic, length of project, number of activity centers, etc. that are asked of transportation projects currently funded by the GGRF.
  • The focus will be on infrastructure projects in the construction phase, so noninfrastructure and planning will not be eligible. Given the small amount of funding, this is not a surprise but we do want to ensure that they can be eligible in future rounds if the CTC intends to use these guidelines again. Noninfrastructure is eligible for funding in the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities program, also funded by GGRF, and several programs fund plans. We will be submitting a comment letter on the guidelines encouraging CTC to consider noninfrastructure and plans as an eligible use of GGRF ATP funds.

The guidelines are available here. The CTC will approve them at its next meeting in San Jose on October 19-20 so it is a quick turnaround, but we are excited to see a few more projects get funded this year!

SCAG Releases Call for Projects for Sustainability Planning Grants, Including Active Transportation Projects!

sustainabilityplanninggrantsSCAG has announced a Call for Projects for its Sustainability Planning Grant program, and it includes funding from the region’s share of ATP Cycle 3 funds. As a result, eligible projects include active transportation plans, Safe Routes to School noninfrastructure programs and capacity building activities. There are separate applications for each type of project, unlike the statewide ATP competition, which will hopefully reduce the burden on applicants. The previous call for proposals in 2013 resulted in over 70 funded projects, ranging from Bicycle Master Plans to Urban Forestry Initiatives. The grants will range from $50,000 to $1 million.

Sample projects include bicycle, pedestrian and safe routes to school plans, open streets demonstration projects, climate action plans, adaptation studies and visioning projects that promote sustainable development. Proposals will be evaluated based on project need, goals, objectives, outcomes and community support. All SCAG‐member jurisdictions, including cities, counties and Councils of Governments (COGs) and federally recognized Native American tribes in the counties of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura are encouraged to apply.

The goals of the 2016 Sustainability Planning Grants Program are to:

  • Provide needed planning resources to local jurisdictions for sustainability planning efforts
  • Develop local plans that support the implementation of the 2016-2040 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (2016 RTP/SCS)
  • Increase the region’s competitiveness for federal and state funds, including, but not limited to, the California Active Transportation Program and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

The 2016 Sustainability Planning Grants Call for Proposals is comprised of 3 main project proposal categories that meet the goals of the overall program. Each category is detailed further in the category guidelines.

  • Active Transportation – Examples includes bicycle, pedestrian and safe routes to school plans and programs
  • Integrated Land Use – Examples include sustainable land use planning, transit oriented development and land use & transportation integration
  • Green Region Initiatives – Examples include natural resource plans, climate action plans, green street plans, and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction programs

Applications are due Friday, November 18, and a webinar will be held on Thursday, October 13. For more details, including links to the application, visit the SCAG Sustainability website. The FAQ page is helpful in understanding the purpose of the program and what types of projects are eligible. This press release also announced the Call for Projects.

RTP Guidelines Update: Second Draft Released, Workgroup Meetings in October

RTPG Cover Page(Post updated 10/14/16 with link to our comment letter)

The California Transportation Commission and Caltrans are moving ahead with updating the (see our previous posts here and here) and released the second draft of the Guidelines last week. Comments were due Friday, October 14 and you can read our comment letter here. In our last post on the RTP Guidelines, we summarized our comments on the first draft, and we are happy to see that many of these changes have been incorporated in this second draft. The new draft adds additional language around public health, social equity and environmental justice, and some clarifying language about complete streets and active transportation that will provide better guidance on how to incorporate these modes into the RTP. There are also new sections on performance measures and best practices. We are working closely with over two dozen organizations to review the RTP Guidelines and will be submitting another comment letter before the October 14 deadline.

There will be another series of workgroup meetings in October and early November to discuss the changes between the first and second drafts, and to build consensus on what changes will make it into the final draft. The full list of workgroup meetings is available on the project website. Most will be held in Sacramento with a call-in option.

The update process is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, with the CTC approving the Guidelines at their December or January meeting. The new Guidelines will go into effect for RTPs undergoing the update process in 2017, but those already in process will likely still be subject to the old Guidelines.

Read our comment letter on the 2nd draft here.

Our previous comment letters on the RTP Guidelines are available at the links below:

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

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

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

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