Transportation: Smarter Choices
California has set ambitious goals to fight climate change and create more sustainable, equitable communities.
ClimatePlan is working closely with our partners to align the state’s transportation investments with these goals. To meet them, the state should put funding first toward projects that reduce greenhouse gases and help people find affordable homes near good jobs and transportation choices, surrounded by protected farms and natural landscapes.
Here's how we're approaching this work. (And here's a quick summary: a fact sheet on California transportation spending that we produced this year.)
Transportation is critical to the health and well-being of all Californians, as well as the health of our economy. We need our transportation policy to reflect — and support — all Californians’ needs. All Californians should live in communities where they have safe and equitable access to all forms of mobility. The state’s transportation investments should not only improves access to transportation for vulnerable communities but also to clean, breathable air.
California Transportation Commission
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) plays an important role in shaping our whole transportation system. The current composition of the CTC is made up of practitioners in the building industry and private sector. It does not reflect the diverse needs of the users of California’s transportation system. We’ve seen repeated shortcomings where the CTC has not aligned the state's transportation programs with the state’s climate and equity goals.
In 2018, ClimatePlan co-sponsored AB 179 with California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) and the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ). AB 179 requires greater diversity in the membership of the Commission. With the Governor’s signature in October 2017, AB 179 is now law.
ClimatePlan looks forward to working with partners and the Administration to ensure that the CTC reflects the diverse needs of Californians around transportation.
State Transportation Improvement Program
With the passage of SB 1, California now has $5.4 billion available to invest in transportation. The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) makes up the largest piece of this pie for capital investments.
ClimatePlan will continue to work with partners to ensure that the STIP aligns with state goals to reduce GHG emissions while also maximizing investment in sustainable transportation choices, and providing direct benefits to low-income communities and communities of color.
Our key recommendations for the STIP include:
• Explicitly recommend that highway capacity should be used as a last resort in the 2018 STIP Guideines, given the academic research on induced demand that shows how highway expansion increases our greenhouse gas emissions.
• Provide a breakdown of how previous STIP funds were spent, and how they benefited underserved and overburdened communities. To help achieve state climate and equity goals, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) can play an important role to increase transparency, helping the Legislature and public understand how the state and regions are spending their STIP funds.
• Clearly commit to providing direct benefits to underserved and overburdened communities and reduce existing environmental, social, and other burdens. The STIP should align with other state transportation funds such as the Active Transportation Program, and provide direct benefits to underserved and overburdened communities.
Sustainable Communities Grants
SB 1 provides $25 million for Sustainable Communities Grants to support and implement Sustainable Communities Strategies and help achieve state climate goals.
ClimatePlan worked with partners to ensure that these grants:
• Emphasize state climate goals, and require regional agencies to be meeting their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets, to receive formula funds.
• Require regional agencies to meet their civil rights obligations, set aside 50% of funds for planning for disadvantaged communities, and give special consideration to SB 1000 compliance.
• Give special consideration to jurisdictions with anti-displacement strategies, and eventually require certified Housing Elements and up-to-data Annual Progress Reports.
• Promote public health with special consideration for jurisdictions with Vision Zero and Complete Streets policies, and use of the Health Disadvantage Index Screening Tool.
To further achieve the goals of this grant program, ClimatePlan will continue to advocate for:
• A transparent grant scoring guide with greater clarity about how criteria are weighted in evaluating applications.
• More emphasis on protecting California's natural resources.
• Stronger "minimum eligibility criteria" for metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to include actions such as: Furthering fair housing and equitable access to opportunity; and Using per-capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as a performance measure, which can help track progress toward Caltrans' objectives from the Strategic Management Plan.
• Prioritizing plans and policies that meet community needs and address equity concerns, so applicants must demonstrate robust and meaningful public participation in projects, start to finish.
• A thorough revision of the grant guidelines after the first two rounds of grants.