Lessons Learned at the 2017 Orange County Active Transportation Forum

Held on September 22, the 2017 Orange County Active Transportation Forum was a great success! Now in its sixth year running, the theme of this year’s forum was The Intersection of Housing and Transit—highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration to support growth of active transportation and sustainable, healthy, and equitable communities across Orange County.

The day started off with a keynote address given by Charles “Chuck” Marohn, Founder and President of Strong Towns. His presentation examined different approaches to thinking critically about development and financial resilience in how we plan our cities. He concluded by highlighting differences between the values of engineers and the public in how they prioritize what is important in street design (see image below). The big takeaway being that it is crucial that public stakeholders ensure their voices are heard in how we plan for safer and more active transportation solutions in Orange County. Check out more coverage and a recap of Chuck’s time spent in Santa Ana here and here.


Four group panel sessions throughout the day opened up conversations about a range of topics, including: The Intersection of Transit and Housing Affordability, The Digital Revolution, A Tale of Three Cities in Central Orange County, Advocacy, Education, & Political Leadership in Orange County. The innovative moderators and panelists provided great insight into planning and policy issues around active transportation and sustainable community planning in Orange County and how to collaborate to address them moving forward.

There were also opportunities to learn about and explore resources and efforts up close through the Innovations Showcase and Solutions and Engagement Sessions. The National Partnership presented on its work leading the Orange County Active Transportation Network and developing the Orange County Active Transportation Vision.

A huge thanks to the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County for organizing the forum and to all groups, agencies, and individuals that participated.

Coming Soon: 2017 Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Competition

The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) has released the final version of the guidelines for the 2017 Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program (AHSC). This program provides grants for transit-oriented development that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  It focuses on increasing the accessibility of housing, jobs, and key destinations through walking, biking and transit.  We are pleased with how the final guidelines incorporate many of the recommendations that we and partner organizations made that will maximize the impact of this program.  The competition is expected to open on October 2, 2017.  Watch our webinar from earlier this year about how to form partnerships between housing and transportation to prepare to apply.

Metro Approves Measure M Guidelines!

After months of hard work and input from community members, advocates, and the Metro Policy Advisory Council and staff, the Metro Board of Directors unanimously adopted the Measure M Master Guidelines last Thursday, June 16. Included in the approval was Motion 38.3 by Directors Garcia, Bonin, Solis and Hahn that altered the Measure M Highway Subfunds program to reflect goals of Metro’s Complete Streets policy—and in doing so prioritizing a more multimodal approach to reducing traffic and making streets safer for all road users. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership joined local partners in showing support for the motion by sending Metro Board of Directors a letter and providing testimony at Thursday’s meeting.

Adoption of the Guidelines is a significant milestone, but there’s still much work to be done. There remain questions about the applicability of Metro’s Complete Streets Policy across Measure M programs, in addition to concerns regarding project eligibility and performance metrics criteria.

Over the next two years Metro will develop administrative procedures for certain components of the Guidelines. For example, both procedures for determining Multi-Year Subregional Programs project readiness, along with Metro Active Transportation Program procedures and funding availability criteria will be established within one year. Check out the full administrative procedure development timeline here.

Next steps: The Metro Policy Advisory Council (PAC) will next meet on July 11 from 1:30-3:30 pm at SCAG headquarters to establish a work plan for the months to come as it considers the administrative procedures and the update to the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Measure M Guidelines Update: Read Our Comment Letter and Next Steps

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership submitted a comment letter to Metro regarding the draft Measure M Guidelines last week. You can read our full letter here. Be sure to also check out a letter submitted by our partners at Investing in Place that we signed on to.

Next steps: The Metro Policy Advisory Council (PAC) will continue to convene monthly, meeting next on June 6th at SCAG headquarters. At the June meeting Metro will present its initial revisions to the Guidelines for input. It is never too late to get involved! PAC meetings are open to the public and a great way to stay up to date on important discussions and provide crucial feedback. Find more information on the PAC here.

SCAG approves Sustainable Planning Grants and State Active Transportation Program funding recommendations

Sustainability Planning Grants

On Thursday, February 2, SCAG Regional Council approved recommendations for its Sustainability Planning Grants Program (SPG) to fund 54 projects with $9.6 million (see full list of recommended projects on page 5 here). In total, SCAG received 139 project proposals, requesting nearly $35.5 million across all project categories, from which it identified top ranked projects.

Selected SPG projects include:

  • Active Transportation Projects
    • 25 projects, totaling over $4.9 million
    • 14 non-infrastructure, 9 active transportation plans, and 2 mini-grants
    • 7 SRTS projects (including both non-infrastructure and active transportation plans)
  • Integrated Land-Use/Green Region Initiative
    • 29 projects, totaling over $4.7 million
    • 6 shared vision plans, 19 focused purpose plans, and 4 mini-grants

Below is a breakdown of SPG distribution throughout the SCAG region:


As we reported on in October, the SPG includes funding from the Regional Active Transportation Program (ATP) to allow for planning and non-infrastructure projects to access ATP funding through a more streamlined process. A total of 11 SPG projects were approved to receive nearly $2.8 million in Regional ATP funds (see overview of Regional ATP below).

SCAG may also be able to fund an additional $2 million in awards for proposals that can make modifications to receive money from non-ATP funding sources (Mobile Source Review Committee). SCAG staff intends to work with some cities to make their projects MSRC eligible and return to the Regional Council in April with recommendations.

To streamline and support more efficient project delivery, SCAG is offering to administer ATP funds on behalf of SPG applicants, should they request assistance.

State Active Transportation Grants

On the same day, SCAG Regional Council also approved its 2017 Regional ATP recommended project list (see full list of recommended projects on page 14 here). A total of 32 projects were recommended, totaling over $56 million funding. The 32 projects are among those that were not selected in the statewide ATP competition and identified through input from the six county transportation commissions.

Selected Regional ATP projects include:

  • Implementation Projects
    • 21 projects, totaling $53.2 million
    • 6 SRTS projects, totaling nearly $9.3 million
  • Planning and Capacity Building Projects, totaling nearly $2.8 million
    • 3 planning projects, totaling $645k
    • 8 capacity building project, totaling nearly $2.1 million
    • 4 SRTS projects, totaling nearly $1.1 million

Implementation Projects were selected to ensure that each county received its population-based share of available funding. A breakdown of projects within this category by county includes:

  • Imperial: 2 projects
  • Los Angeles: 8 projects
  • Orange: 3 projects
  • Riverside: 3 projects
  • San Bernardino: 3 projects
  • Ventura: 2 projects

Planning and Capacity Building Projects were selected and ranked based on scores received through the SPG application process. A breakdown of projects within this category by county includes:

  • Imperial: 1 project
  • Los Angeles: 7 projects
  • Orange: 1 project
  • Riverside: 1 project
  • San Bernardino: 1 project
  • Ventura: —

The Regional Council approved recommended projects list will now be submitted to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) for approval during their March 2017 meeting. As part of the recommendation process, SCAG Regional Council also approved and will submit to the CTC a Contingency List of projects to fund should a recommended project fail (see full contingency list of projects on page 15 here).

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