Nearing the Finish Line: Guidelines for New Affordable Housing, Sustainable Communities, and Agricultural Lands Programs Almost Done

The Strategic Growth Council has been busy! The agency has been creating two new programs to fund the creation of sustainable communities and preserve agricultural lands. Draft guidelines are now out, and we’ve summarized them below.


Action Alert: You can still make comments on both programs. See below for workshops and/or how to email the Strategic Growth Council.

After workshops in August, Council staff pulled together input from the public and from other agencies to create draft guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. These were presented at the Strategic Growth Council meeting on October 6, along with draft guidelines for the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) program.

Both of these new programs are immensely important:

One of the biggest critiques of SB 375—the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act—is that it does not provide any funding to actually implement its vision: to reduce greenhouse gases through land use and transportation. These programs will change that. They will use funds from the state’s new Cap-and-Trade program to support projects to create sustainable communities and protect farmland.

Below are very brief summaries of the draft AHSC guidelines and the draft SALC guidelines. We encourage you to read the full draft guidelines (links below) to fully understand the programs.

Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Draft Guidelines:
(Full draft AHSC guidelines here)

– Projects must reduce GHGs:
Projects must demonstrate that they will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These reductions must primarily be through reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), but projects can also demonstrate ancillary GHG reductions through other means, such as energy efficiency or sequestration.

 – Project categories:
1) Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is one of the two eligible project categories. This category supports TOD projects within a half-mile of high-quality transit. Projects must include at least one affordable housing development.
2) Integrated Connectivity Projects (ICP) is the other eligible project category. This category supports projects that improve connectivity in areas. For this category, projects must include transit service but housing is not required.

Project scoring:
The proposed scoring elements for projects are:
35 – 40%: Feasibility and readiness
(How quickly can the project get built?)
40 – 45%: Connectivity and improved access
(How much does it improve connectivity and reduce GHG?)
15-20%: Community orientation
(How does the project engage the community and address co-benefits?)

(Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Draft Guidelines:
(Full SALC guidelines here)

This program offers two types of funding:

  •  – Agricultural Land Strategy Grants: These are grants for projects that identify important and critical agricultural lands, and prepare strategies to guide protection. The maximum grant award would be $100,000 with a 10% match. Examples of eligible projects would be: general-plan updates that include an agricultural element, or inventories of agriculturally zoned land that help establish priorities for conservation.
  •  – Agricultural Conservation Easements: These are funds to permanently protect important agricultural lands. There’s no maximum grant award for the easements, but applicants would need to match 50% or more towards the total cost of the easement. One example of an eligible project would be land with a demonstrated risk of conversion to non-agricultural use.

ClimatePlan strongly supports both of these programs. These programs will provide much-needed funds to help implement SB 375 successfully.

Improving the guidelines:

ClimatePlan and its partners are working with the Strategic Growth Council and other state agencies to get clear metrics and methodology that show how projects will reduce greenhouse gases through VMT and other means.

We’re also working to strengthen the co-benefits (such as reduced housing and transportation costs, improved public health outcomes, and ensuring new development curbs displacement and gentrification) and community engagement in the scoring elements, and ensure the AHSC and SALC programs have a strong connection to one another.

If you’re interested in submitting comments on the AHSC or SALC guidelines, the Strategic Growth Council will be hosting several workshops in the next two weeks. See below for workshops in your area:

AHSC Workshops:

Thursday, October 23, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Merced City Hall, Sandpiper Room
678 West 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340
Click here to register

Friday, October 24, 9:00 am – Noon
Elihu Harris Building Auditorium
1515 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Click here to register

Monday, October 27, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Southern California Association of Governments
818 West 7th Street, 12th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Click here to register

Tuesday, October 28, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
CalPERS Headquarters, Lincoln Plaza North Auditorium
400 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
Click here to register

Monday, October 27, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
A new site has been added in San Diego to join the live webcast of the workshop hosted in Los Angeles. Attendees of the San Diego location will have the ability to interact with workshop hosts.
Click here to register

SALC Workshops:

Friday, October 24, 10:00 a.m. – Noon
Butte County Building, Tahoe Room
202 Mira Loma Drive, Oroville, CA 95965

Wednesday, October 29, 10:00 a.m. – Noon
Kern County Dept. of Agriculture Agricultural Commissioner’s Facility
1001 South Mount Vernon Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93307

Thursday, October 30, 10:00 am to Noon
Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room
275 Main Street, Fourth Floor, Watsonville, CA 95076

Comment via Email:
Comments are due on October 31st for both programs so make sure you get your comments to the Strategic Growth Council by Halloween!
– For AHSC, email comments to [email protected]
– For SALC, email comments [email protected].

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