Strategic Growth Council Gets An Earful

The Strategic Growth Council was in DTLA again today to tease out more lessons learned from round 1 of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) funding program ($130 million disbursed) so changes can be made before round 2 next year ($400 million). The councilmembers in attendance got an earful.

Much of the criticism centered around the fact that even though Southern California is home to 50% of the state’s population and 66% of the communities deemed to be “disadvantaged” according to the CalEnviroScreen (meaning they are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution and entitled to certain shares of funding), SoCal got just 22% of the grants that were made.

“Geographic equity is something that has to be remedied for the long-term sustainability of this effort,” Move LA’s Denny Zane told the SGC. “The fact that Southern California is so under-represented will cause a political backlash.” Denny also suggested that the SGC give the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and other metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) around the state a more significant role in disbursing the funding to help address the geographic equity issue.

AHSC, one of the programs that is funded by the state’s Cap and Trade program, has stirred up a great deal of interest in part because it’s a brand new source of funding for projects that gets people out of their cars – thereby reducing GHG emissions -- by making it easier to walk, bike and take transit from where they live to where they need to go. People also care about this program because funding is expected to increase soon to $1 billion/year.

It’s yet another example of how far California is out in front of other states when it comes to commitments to reduce GHG emissions. Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order earlier this year saying the state would reduce GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels over 15 years, and reduce petroleum use by 50%, which puts California on par with international governments that have taken the lead in their commitments in anticipation of global climate talks in Paris in December.

In response to input gathered so far, the SGC has said it will work on refining the GHG reduction methodology, provide more technical assistance and better geographic distribution, and address problems with the caps that limited funding to jurisdictions.

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