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Posts from the SCAG Category


L.A. and San Bernardino Inter-County Transit/Rail Planning Meetings Kick Off

SCAG's L.A.-San Bernardino Counties area of study. Source:

SCAG’s L.A.-San Bernardino Counties area of study. Image via SCAG study fact sheet [PDF]

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is seeking to develop a comprehensive overview of potential transportation and rail improvement options in the corridor bridging L.A. Counties and San Bernardino counties. Los Angeles and San Bernardino inter-county cooperation could expand transit access to cities near the county border. A number of significant inter-county transportation projects are or have been proposed to increase connectivity in eastern San Gabriel Valley and Western San Bernardino County. Future transportation projects could include:

  • Metrolink San Bernardino Line connection to Ontario Airport
  • Metro Gold Line light rail phase 2-B extension to Montclair
  • Metro Gold Line light rail phase 2-C extension to Ontario Airport
  • Bus Rapid Transit connections
  • 10 Freeway express lanes

SCAG’s study corridor area includes portions of the San Bernardino County cities of Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Upland and the Los Angeles County cities of Claremont, La Verne, and Pomona.

SCAG hosted a community meeting in Upland last night for the cross-counties study. A second community meeting will take place tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Palomares Academy of Health Sciences at 211 N. Orange Grove Avenue in Pomona. SCAG will be disseminating project information and gathering community input. Interested folks who cannot attend the meetings can give input via a five-minute interactive online survey.


One of the presentation boards at last night’s meeting. According to a SCAG representative, PDFs of the presentation will be made available on the study website. Source: Doug Lewis/Streetsblog L.A.

Recently, Gold Line authority officials expressed interest in moving forward with an Ontario airport connection, but with San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBAG – somewhat analogous to L.A. County’s Metro) approval and oversight. Any future facilities in San Bernardino County, including the planned Montclair station and proposed Ontario Airport extension, would need to be funded by San Bernardino County.

A 2014 report from the Pasadena Star details the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority’s past efforts to gain inter-county authority for a possible San Bernardino extension. The proposed state bill A.B. 2574 was met with vehement opposition from SanBAG for overriding jurisdiction.

Can SCAG, which spans six counties, facilitate a more harmonious cooperation between San Bernardino and L.A. Counties? Will the result be transit service that improves the lives of all southern California residents, regardless of what county they live or work in? Time will tell, and SCAG’s current study appears to be one worthwhile step in the right direction. Attend tonight’s meeting or give your input via the online survey.


Future transit projects could serve some of the 180,000 daily trips between the counties. SCAG’s trip-forecasting model detailed here. Source: Doug Lewis/Streetsblog L.A.

SBLA San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”


As SCAG Talks Environmental Justice, Tea Party Group Hones in on E.D.

Each red dot on this map is a concentration of 1000 low income households. The green is the parkland in the 6 county SCAG region. Click on the map for a larger version.

Each red dot on this map is a concentration of 1,000 low-income households. The green is the parkland in the six-county SCAG region. Access to these parks is one issue that SCAG is trying to deal with in its Environmental Justice planning. Click on the map for a larger version. Graphic via SCAG.

Regional planning documents and hearings are hardly exciting to write about. Interminably long public meetings, wonky terms, never-ending studies. It’s one reason that Streetsblog hardly covers the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), even though the regional plan it puts out is incredibly important in determining which projects receive federal funds and which ones don’t.

Fortunately for the sake of clicks and page views, but unfortunately for public policy, the Tea Party is taking aim at SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata just as the agency is holding Environmental Justice workshops in advance of the 2016 Regional Plan. Meeting details for its second of two outreach meetings are at the bottom of this post. You can also email comments on the plan to​.

SCAG is required to provide an explanation of how its regional planning impacts disadvantaged communities and communities of color. Advocacy groups have rightly noted that this requirement is one lever that can be used to re-direct funds away from the types of highway projects that have traditionally divided minority and less-affluent communities and instead use it to reinvest in those areas by providing better access to parks and public transit, more open space, and safer and more attractive facilities for walking, bicycling, or just being outside.

Coverage of the current SCAG efforts on Environmental Justice by Climate Plan and the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership help explain in greater detail how these meetings, and this part of the plan, provide excellent opportunity to increase the investment in active transportation and disadvantaged communities for anyone who wants to learn more.

The post by Climate Plan is particularly interesting as it calls for, in the wonky way that regional planners prefer, better outreach to disadvantaged and communities of color, creating environmental justice metrics and tracking that can be broken down for each of the six counties in the SCAG region and a full analysis on the health impacts that the poor air quality created by Southern California’s freeways has on the communities they cut through.

If all of Climate Plan’s suggestions become part of the regional plan, it would have an impact on what kinds of projects get built similar to a Measure R2 that sets aside hundreds of millions of dollars for active transportation. Maybe not right away, but it would change the way the region talks about transportation.

Any chance that will happen would go away if the public comment they receive is dominated by people asking for greater investment in our already sprawling and gigantic highway system.

But just as SCAG is holding these meetings, Grindal61, a tea party videographer, launched an attack on SCAG’s executive director in a video subtly titled, “COMMUNIST GODFATHER KINGPIN HASAN IKHRATA DEFENDS HIS AGENDA 21 POLICIES.” Read more…


Thoughts at a Workshop On Replacing CA’s Gas Tax With a Mileage Fee

In 2017, California plans to pilot a new mileage-based Road User Charge designed to potentially replace the current state gas tax. Photo Wikimedia

Earlier this week, I attended a California Sustainable Transportation Funding Workshop, hosted by Caltrans, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the California Transportation Commission (CTC), and the Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance (MBUFA). The half-day program focused on how the state of California could shift from our current gas tax funding stream to one based on a per-mile fee.

Let me first say that I usually mostly hang out with a bunch of left-of-center city people like me; we get around mostly by bicycling and walking. My friends and colleagues tend to support the idea of a per-mile fee, because we expect that it could help motivate people to drive less, and use other modes more.

This workshop wasn’t populated by a bunch of people like me. I don’t think anyone else arrived there by bicycle. As far as I could tell, it was primarily people who are more mainstream: people who drive and who, for the foreseeable future, expect our car-centric transportation system to look more or less like it does now. Among the program’s sponsors was the libertarian Reason Foundation.

What was interesting about the workshop was where the left and the right agreed: gas tax revenues aren’t enough to cover transportation infrastructure costs, and per-mile fees could work better. Similar right-left agreements occur with some Shoup-inspired parking reforms and Express Lane toll programs.

California's Gas Tax

In 1994, California’s Gas Tax was set at 18 cents per gallon. It remains unchanged today, but, due to inflation, that 18 cents is now worth about 11 cents. Graph via Caltrans

Speakers at the conference set the stage by describing the situation, which they described as “The Federal & California Financial Cliff.” The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. The California gas tax is an additional 18 cents per gallon. These amounts were set in the early 1990s. Unlike percentage-based sales taxes, which fluctuate with price changes, the gas tax remains at a flat rate. Since the ’90s, inflation has effectively reduced California’s gas tax to its lowest inflation-adjusted level since California gas taxes began in 1923.

Gas taxes are dedicated to be spent on transportation only. As the gas taxes lose value over time, governmental transportation budgets are increasingly subsidized by other taxes paid by everyone, including sales taxes, property taxes, etc. Recent estimates show that only about half of overall transportation funding is paid for by dedicated gas tax revenues. To some extent, this is fair: even non-drivers derive some benefits from highways, because everyone buys goods shipped by truck. The unfair aspect of this system is that non-drivers’ taxes go, in part, to freeways that non-drivers do not use.

Transportation leaders are generally aware that general funds subsidize transportation expenditures, but many drivers assume that driving-based taxes are what pays for roads. Many drivers, though already subsidized by non-drivers, still think they’re paying too much.

There are at least three more factors that influence the gas-tax-income vs. transportation-expenditures mismatch.  Read more…

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SCAG Staff Release ATP Bike/Ped Project Funding Recommendations

Rendering of one of the ascend-able arches and the soccer field Councilmember Huizar is pushing for below. Source: 6th St. Viaduct Replacement.

Recommendations have been released for the latest round of Active Transportation Program funding. Included in the recommendations are pedestrian and bicycle components of the Sixth Street Bridge replacement project, rendered here. Source: 6th St. Viaduct Replacement.

The first year of the state’s new Active Transportation Funding (ATP) program is drawing to a close. ATP is the main source of funding for walking and bicycling projects and programs in L.A. County.

In the past, L.A. County bike and ped projects were primarily funded by Metro’s Call for Projects. Changes at the federal level reduced this funding, and gave control over it mostly to the state, but also partially to regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). For the 6-county Los Angeles metropolitan region, the MPO is the Southern California Association of Governments, known as “SCAG.”

Projects vying for the statewide competitive ATP grants were announced and approved in August. Those that did not succeed at the state level would have one last chance at the regional level.

This week SCAG staff released its recommendations. The final set of projects is expected to be approved by the agency’s Transportation Committee when it meets this Thursday. View the agenda [PDF].

There are no big surprises in the recommendations. SCAG appears to have adhered the state ranking, so the next few projects in line are recommended to receive funding. See the full SCAG list [PDF], some highlighted L.A. County projects appear after the jump.  Read more…


CA’s Regional Agencies Tout Increased Ped Safety Funding in Sacramento

Panelists at the Peds Count Summit: Ahron Hakimi, KernCOG, Mike McKeever, SACOG, Ken Kirky, MTC, Huasha Liu, SCAG, Kome Ajise, Caltrans, and Charles Stoll, SANDAG

Panelists at the Peds Count Summit: Mike McKeever, SACOG, Ken Kirky, MTC, Huasha Liu, SCAG, Kome Ajise, Caltrans, and Charles Stoll, SANDAG. Photo: Melanie Curry

The Peds Count! 2014 Summit kicked off in Sacramento with a panel of top-level executives from regional planning agencies celebrating their accomplishments in improving conditions for pedestrians.

The speakers represented an alphabet soup of major metropolitan transportation agencies in California: SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments; SACOG, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments; SCAG, Southern California Association of Governments; KernCOG, the Kern Council of Governments; and MTC, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission from the San Francisco Bay Area.

The summit, the third bi-annual conference organized by CaliforniaWalks, brings together advocates and planners from throughout the state to discuss the current state of research, policy, and innovation in the realm of planning for pedestrians in California’s cities and counties.

According to the California Household Travel Survey, the number of walking trips has doubled since 2000, to 16.6 percent of all trips reported. However, less than one percent of transportation funding in the state goes towards improvements for active transportation (walking and bicycling). In addition, pedestrian safety goals were not included in a recent Federal Highway Administration proposal on new performance measures for national highways.

But the agency executives at the conference celebrated the progress that was made, and challenged pedestrian advocates to build support to make it easier for agencies to do more.

Read more…

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Feds. Coming to Town to Talk SCAG, Regional Planning

Four years have passed since the last time the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration conducted a certification review and evaluation of the region’s transportation planning process carried out by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and its partners, and that means it’s time for the process to begin again.

Don't let these guys dominate our regional planning discussions.

Don’t let these guys dominate our regional planning discussions.

A fairly full explanation of this process and its significance was prepared by me the last time this little exercise was undertaken. The process includes a public listening session which will be held February 5, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at SCAG’s offices, 818 West 7th Street, 12th Floor. Video conferencing will be available at SCAG’s Regional Offices for adjacent counties

The listening session is in Downtown Los Angeles across from the 7th/Metro station for the Blue/Expo and Red/Purple lines. Comments can also be submitted in writing or via e-mail. Details are posted on the SCAG website.

In 2009’s session the main attendees at the hearing were disgruntled residents of Sierra Madre who attended at the urging on an online blog known as the Tattler. Here is a recent example of its continual inveighing against SCAG.

While, I am no SCAG apologist, it doesn’t seem the Tattler is concerned about urban planning. Read more…


Judge Rules Transportation Plan in San Diego Violates State Enviro. Laws

A superior court judge rules the modeling that shows that SANDAG's freeway friendly long-term plan violates state law. Image: San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers

When it was passed last March, the long-term transportation plan was hailed as “visionary” for its investment in transit, bicycling and pedestrian projects. The plan was the first regional plan passed under S.B. 375, a landmark piece of legislation that mandated that transportation plans be tied to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. And San Diego leadership was proud.

A few local voices fought back, arguing that the green transportation investments were all in the latter years of the thirty year plan. Proposed investments in new toll lanes would not bring the air quality benefits planners promised. They filed suit. The established powers laughed. Then, the State Attorney General joined the suit. All of a sudden, the lawsuit was front page news.

Today, Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled today that the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) violated state law by failing to fully account for, and take steps to reduce, climate pollution in its environmental review of the region’s long-term transportation plan in the environmental review of the Long Term Plan. The ruling is a major rebuke to regional planners in the San Diego region and a warning shot to other regional planning organizations that just passing a plan and calling it green is no longer enough.

“The court is setting an important example here for regional planning agencies throughout California,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. “We cannot wait another 40 years to adopt sensible transportation and land-use policies. Thanks to California laws requiring public agencies to be open about their plans, we were able to hold SANDAG accountable for its faulty planning practices.”

SANDAG must now conduct new environmental review for its 2050 plan to ensure it adequately addresses the risk of climate change. The plaintiffs believe it is likely that the more rigorous environmental review will lead to a revised plan that does a better job of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as required by state law. Read more…


“This Plan Will Make Air Pollution a Relic of Our History”

Earlier today, the Southern California Association of Governments unanimously passed the 2015-2035 Long Range Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy to guide local transportation planning and investment in the six county region SCAG oversees.  While past SCAG plans have focused on building out the highway network, this plan conforms to new state laws requiring that transportation planning leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas and focuses much more on transit expansion.

It's hard to believe any regional plan would actually end L.A.'s notorious air pollution problems, but Denny Zane is not known for thinking small. Photo:pollution articles.

“This is a game-changing plan for Southern California. It will create thousands of jobs and make air pollution a relic of our history,” said Denny Zane, executive director of Move L.A. “Southern California should be competitive with any metropolitan area in the world.  We already have the best weather.”

In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed  SB 375 into law which required that regional land use and transportation plans bring about measurable changes in Greenhouse Gas emissions.  The first regional plan passed under this law was by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and is now being challenged in court for placing too much emphasis on highway expansion, albeit in the form of high occupancy toll lanes.

Local experts praise the SCAG plan as an improvement not just over past efforts, but also over the SANDAG plan.  In particular, the plan will : Read more…

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SCAG Transportation Committee Meets to Discuss Regional Plan One Last Time

What make a good regional transportation plan?

This question has become a complicated one in recent years as a new legislative mandate requires that the regional bodies responsible for creating these plans, plans which decide the funding direction for large parts of the state, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and again by 2035.  We’ve already seen how a plan hailed for its progressiveness upon passage by the San Diego Association of Governments now finds itself in court, with the state’s attorney siding with the plaintiffs.

The current round of regional plans will direct funding until 2050 and are the first ones passed since the passage of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law in 2008.

Soon the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will have its chance to finalize a regional plan.  An important step in that process will happen later this morning, when SCAG’s Transportation Committee meets to discuss the plan for the last time before it’s 83 member board of directors votes on the plan next month.  Rarely does SCAG meetings or plans attract as much attention, but, spurred by the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership, Move L.A. and local groups such as VC Cool, hundreds of people have commented on the plan either asking for greater investment in transit, or active transportation.

This has led to two camps forming within transportation reformers.  On one hand, Move L.A. is praising the plan with few conditions.  An op/ed by Move L.A.’s Gloria Ohland (also a Streetsblog contributor) lays out the positives of the plan.  Ohland’s full piece appears at the end of this article: Read more…

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Send a Love Letter to Better Transportation & Land Use

Why you should comment on the draft SCAG 2012-2035 regional transportation plan/ sustainable communities strategy.

What is the RTP?

To read the plan in its entirety, click on the image.

The SCAG 2012 to 2035 Regional Transportation Plan/ Sustainable Communities Strategy  is a $525 billion, 23 year transportation and land use blueprint for the six county, expected-to-grow-to 22 million person Southern California Associations of Governments region. The 230 page draft report446 page list of projects to fund, 642 page environmental impact report, and numerous appendixes lay out a vision for transportation and land use in the greater Los Angeles region along with a plan to raise and spend over $520 billion to maintain, operate and expand transportation infrastructure through 2035.

Comments on the draft plan are due by 5pm on Valentine’s day, February 14, 2012. I’d encourage everyone interested in the future of streets, transit, sustainability or the built environment in the region to submit comments by emailing While not everything in the draft plan will get implemented, the RTP is a strong indicator of how transportation agencies, counties and cities will prioritize investments in transportation. If there are harmful or wasteful projects slated to be funded, you should encourage SCAG to drop them. If you want local governments to prioritize different transportation investment, you should let SCAG know. If you have ideas for other ways to improve mobility, to raise funds to pay for transportation, to encourage more sustainable land uses (especially housing patterns and locations), or otherwise transform how we move people and products, let them know.

I hope that some Streetsblog readers will check out the project list to see and comment on what is planned – and what is left out- for your part of the region and/or for the transportation sector(s) that you know best. For my comments, which I summarize below, I’ve tried to focus on the improved mobility and more sustainable neighborhoods that I hope to see evolve over the next 25 years. If the draft plan moves us in that direction, I’ll acknowledge the positive elements of the plan. Where the draft plan falls short or moves in the wrong direction, I’ll suggest changes.

A Vision for the Future

So what are some compelling but achievable long term visions for transportation and land use in the region? Mine would include: Read more…