SCAG Joint Retreat Meeting

By Manuel Zavala, Community Outreach Coordinator

SCAG does a good job of outreach among elected officials and public agency staff - but falls critically short with working with other Regional Stakeholders.

SCAG held a Joint Retreat of the Regional Councils and Planning Committees on Thursday, June 7th. Items on the agenda included the Executive Director’s Report on the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and High Speed Rails (HSR) Ad Doc Subcommittees, and a workshop on improving communication with the public and members.

Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata’s brief report on the RTP and HSR subcommittees touched on the structure of each committee. The HSR subcommittee reports to the RTP subcommittee under the Transportation Committee. Each subcommittee is composed of no more than 12 members from the Transportation Committee, and no external stakeholders such as citizens or members of non-profits or public health groups, which is very concerning.  The purpose of the subcommittees is to assist “staff with direction, guidance, and focus in the development of different alternatives for the RTP’s constrained and strategic plans.”  Lacking input from citizens and community organizations in the region, SCAG’s RTP fails to address all modes and all stakeholders in its development.

Alternatives analysis is necessary because the 2012 RTP must develop a Sustainable Communications Strategy (SCS) to meet SB 375 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirements for 2020 and 2035. The alternatives to be analyzed will encompass various transportation modes and stakeholders in the region. The subcommittees will both meet at least once a month starting July 2011 until the release of the Final RTP. For more information click here.

Most of the retreat comprised of a presentation on improving communication with the public. Outreach with the public has consisently been one of SCAG’s weaknesses because they do not engage with the public in a meaningful way.  SCAG does a good job communicating and taking input and advice with elected officals and public agency staff but stops there.   Any input from the public comes from individuals who attend Regional Council and committee meetings,  these interactions involve a separation between the council and the public, limited by a microphone and a time limit – and often about lengthy, technical presentations which can be very challenging for citizens to figure out how to engage in.

The SB 375 mandated public RTP workshops, scheduled for July and August we hope address this problem.   The 2012 RTP is a very important plan that will have a tremendous impact on public health and safety. It is important for the public to attend these public workshops, engage with SCAG staff, and give their feedback and opinions – and for the RTP to incorporate this feedback and input.

We encourage all our Southern California Safe Routes to School partners to check for the scheduled workshops and attend the meetings when you can – bring a copy of the 2012 Active Transportation Regional Platform and let SCAG Regional Council members know – you think less than 0.5% of investments is unacceptable – especially with 25% of all roadway injuries and fatalities are those out walking and biking.  Many may also be interested in attending the training this week on public health and the RTP.

SB 375 is about creating a region that does not require a car for every trip, and strives to support multi-modal planning on every streets, help build support for leaders who see that, and challenge those who want to continue to do regional transportation planning as has been done for too long – putting car speed above people and neighborhoods.

About saferouteseastla
Community Outreach Intern - Safe Routes to School Network

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