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Follow the Money to Sustainable Commuities

Funding for urban development starts with smart stats and California is building the data to analyze transportation and community complexities.

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Better than "where's the money?" is "where's the data?" and the Strategic Growth Council (SGC website) is busy gathering it across the state.

Proposition 84 funds are being distributed in 2009: The state has previously provided funding from a variety of sources, including bond funds, to support water, energy, and natural resource conservation. However, it has not previously provided resources bond funds specifically to encourage local/regional land use planning that will conserve natural resources. Proposition 84 provides $90 million for this purpose. In addition, Proposition 84 provides another $90 million for urban water and energy conservation projects, of which at least $20 million is for urban forestry projects

California's Strategic Growth Council

The Council is a California governor's cabinet level committee that is tasked with coordinating the activities of state agencies to:
  • Improve air and water quality
  • Protect natural resource and agriculture lands
  • Increase the availability of affordable housing
  • Improve infrastructure systems
  • Promote public health
  • Assist state and local entities in the planning of sustainable communities and meeting AB 32 goals
The Council is composed of agency secretaries from Business Transportation and Housing, California Health and Human Services, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Natural Resources Agency; the director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research; and public member Robert Fisher who was appointed by the Governor.
SB 375 Sustainable Community

Land Use and Transportation Planning

In September 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, which changes California’s approach to land use and transportation planning by integrating the processes and including the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. The primary requirements of SB 375 include the following:
  1. The California Air Resource Board (CARB) will develop regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for cars and light trucks for each of the 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).

  2. MPOs, through their planning processes, will develop plans to meet their regional GHG reduction target. This would be accomplished through either the financially constrained Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) as part of their Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) or an unconstrained Alternative Planning Strategy (APS).

  3. Streamlining of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements will be available for specific residential and mixed-use developments.

  4. The California Transportation Commission (CTC), in consultation with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), CARB and stakeholders will ensure and maintain RTP Guidelines that address travel demand models used by MPOs in the development of RTPs.

Proposition 84 funding

SB 732 also enacted in 2008, created the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) which is charged with, among other things, the allocation of Proposition 84 planning grants and planning incentive funds for encouraging the planning and development of sustainable communities with specific requirements, including consistency with AB 32 goals. The SGC is also required to provide, fund and distribute data, and information to local governments and regional agencies that will assist in developing and planning sustainable communities.

The Budget Act of 2009 makes available funds for data gathering and model development necessary to comply with SB 375.

Develop Regional Transportation and Land Use Modeling

It is the intent of the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) to award $12 million in Proposition 84 funds, as authorized by the Budget Act of 2009, to expedite the development of regional transportation and land use modeling by supporting the data gathering and model development necessary to comply with SB 375.

The SGC's goal is to maintain a long-term view towards the development of fully functional regional integrated tour/activity-based models, yet at the same time, provide assistance that will make substantial progress towards SB 375 compliance. To accomplish these goals, the SGC has established the following funding criteria to distribute these funds.

  • Five-sixths of the funding will fund modeling and data collection performed by California’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), which are required by SB 375 to meet regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in their Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs).

  • One-sixth of the funding will fund statewide modeling and data collection to support the accuracy of the MPO models and to understand how the regional targets set under SB 375 will function in the context of the state as a whole, and how these regional targets can support the development and planning of sustainable communities.

SB 375 Compliance sets the funding priorities

Activities must be detailed in the Model Improvement Plan. Priorities consist of:
  • Identify inter-regional/regional trip information and forecasts

    Data collection and model development that assists MPOs and ARB in accurately quantifying and meeting the GHG emission reduction target in its first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) or Alternative Planning Strategy (APS), as required in SB 375, that identify inter-regional/regional trip information and forecasts.

  • Accelerate and implement improved modeling capability

    1. A 4-step model with post-processing capabilities to include density, diversity, design, destinations, etc.
    2. A tour/activity based model with post processing capability. Household trips are often connected or chained together for efficiency or convenience.
    3. An inter-regional/regional integrated tour/activity-based transportation models with land use and economic modeling components that support a healthy quality of life.

  • Improve transportation models such as:

    a. Price sensitivity, such as in tolling or congestion-pricing
    b. Designated transit-oriented development
    c. Variety in development densities
    d. Development in known industrial areas
    e. Development of Greenfield” areas, expansion of the urban area
    f. Redevelopment and infill
    g. Equity and environmental justice sensitivities
    h. Transportation options, including transit, walking and bicycles

Planning sustainable communities affects companies and individuals, as well as community services

What's the solution here? This data collection and analysis will shape regional development policies in California's future. Add money, and you have soup!

Massive populations require smart, long term data collection and trends comparison to see how diverse unimaginable ingredients affect changes. For instance, a simple example is in cooking. The temperature a the bowl affects whether egg whites can be beaten into stiff peaks to make your favorite meringue-topped pie. Who would have thought!

The transportation models have been identified as leading influences on the community development and building industry. By connecting them with trend analysis, we can improve urban productivity with shorter trips, more convenience, less environmental impact. And that means lower costs both on the individual level and the need for public "fix-it" services such as waste management and air quality programs.

Let's get smarter! Let's use this data and trend insights and use it well!

RESOURCES:
Strategic Growth Council
(www.sgc.ca.gov)

Department of Transportation: Office of Regional and Interagency Panning
www.dot.ca.gov/

The 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Download a listing of personnel contacts for California's Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs).

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| sustainabie community | sustainable communities | sustainable cities | sustainable development |

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