February 9, 2021-Kome Ajise, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)-Meeting via Zoom

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Virtual Meeting via ZOOM


Present:  Ruthy Argumedo, Patti Arlt, Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Rachelle Bussell, Ken Coate, Sandra Cuellar, Michelle Decker, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lena Kent, Carol Kim, Lowell King, Pam Langford, Mike Layne, Bill Lemann, P.T. McEwen, Darcy McNaboe, John Mirau, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Michael Rivera, Elizabeth Romero, Dan Schenkel, Paul Shimoff, Sol Teh, Jose Torres, Eric Ustation, Pete Van Helden, Ray Wolfe and Frank Zabaleta.

Guests:  Megan Barajas, Javiera Cartagena, Robert Cruz, Julian Cuevas, La Donna DiCamillo, Sheriff John McMahon, Rachael Michelin, Todd Warden and Reggie Webb.

Announcements: 1) Members were reminded that Committees issue papers are due to staff next week February 16, 2021.

Lowell King, Chair, presiding.

Motion by R. Wolfe/ Second by F. Inman/Passed: Minutes from February 2, 2021. 

Special guest Rachel Michelin, President, California Retailers discussed HERO’s Pay for Grocery Workers initiative.   Local jurisdictions have begun mandating HERO’s pay for grocery workers as they are considered essential workers.  Led by labor unions this process is now sweeping California and will have heavy consequences for business and consumers.  Businesses have already stepped up in both the traditional retail and food sectors by investing millions in personal protective equipment, paid time off, bonuses and paid testing to ensure a safe work environment.  Now local jurisdictions are trying to dictate how the private sector pays their employees.  This process is expanding to other industries to potentially include all essential workers.  In Santa Clara there is a push to include fast food and chain restaurants where rather than burden the franchise owner the program would be paid at the corporate level.  This is a dangerous precedent and potentially will affect all industries now and, in the future, if not challenged.  The group is closely following this important issue.

Inland Action’s Legislative Committee will convene immediately following the meeting on 2/16/21 to discuss.

Ray Wolfe introduced Kome Ajise, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).  SCAG is a Joint Powers Authority under California state law, established as an association of local governments and agencies that voluntarily convene as a forum to address regional issues. The SCAG region encompasses six counties (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura) and 191 cities.  Kome Ajise discussed regional impacts of COVID-19, implementing Connect SoCal, equitable regional economic recovery, and resources for local partners.

Our economy has seen depression era numbers in employment and loss of revenue in retail trade and tax revenue.  The public health trajectory (treatments, vaccines), return of shutdowns, and a resurgence of the virus are all part of the current climate of uncertainty.  These factors are affecting families, business, and government.  The lowest wage sectors have accounted for over 60% of decreased employment.  As our region has a higher percentage of low wage earners (leisure/hospitality sector) the impact has been more severe.  There was almost an 80% drop in the overall vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and in public transportation in April/May.  By mid-October the VMT was back to pre-pandemic levels but the virus resurgence in Nov/Dec again reduced VMT by 40%.  Public transportation also experienced the initial 80% decline but remains stagnant.  Our region has 65% of California’s disadvantaged communities and so we are seeing a disproportionate effect.  SCAG’s President, Rex Richardson has requested support from Congress to address the loss of revenue due to sales and use tax dependency in our communities.

The Connect SoCal plan (also known as the 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy or RTP/SCS) represents the vision for Southern California’s future, including policies, strategies, and projects for advancing the region’s mobility, economy, and sustainability through 2040. The plan details how the region will address its transportation and land use challenges and opportunities in order to achieve its regional emissions standards and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.  The components of Connect SoCal are required by federal and state legislation and is an important planning document for the region, allowing project sponsors to qualify for federal funding. SCAG is required to update this long-range planning document every four years. Connect SoCal contains the following core components:

  • Vision, policies, and performance measures: Contains an overarching vision, policies, a list of regional transportation goals, and measures for evaluating our performance in achieving those goals.
  • Forecasts: Future distribution of population, households, employment, land use, and housing needs.
  • Financial plan: Identifies reasonable expected revenues over the 25-year plan horizon.

Equitable regional economic recovery must address affordable housing, investment in transportation and the digital divide.  Their regional council has made a commitment to advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion throughout Southern California.

Their inclusive economic recovery strategy includes:

  • Convening a panel of experts to develop assumptions for the regional forecast
  • Hold an Economic Summit & produce the 2021 Economic Summit Briefing Book
  • Tax increment financing (TIF) a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.

SCAG’s housing production program will support local jurisdictions and:

  • Implement $47M REAP program in 2022 to support increased housing production.
    • Launch a Housing Leadership Academy to create better understanding of housing policy and form pro-housing coalitions.
    • Support the regions COG’s in their $23M grant funding through the subregional partnership program.
    • Implement the Call for Collaboration, a $1.5M partnership with several foundations to promote community-based collaborations.

SCAG and SANDAG convened a working group to assist in bridging the digital divide.  This group drafted a sample resolution and policy paper for local jurisdictions to adopt.  Key items include stakeholder collaboration, request for grant funding, and adoption of policies to expedite permitting and lowering fees.  SCAG’s own broadband resolution allows them to develop a Broadband Action Plan that includes pursuing grant opportunities to assist local jurisdictions and convening an official working group.

SCAG has many resources and services for local jurisdictions such as GIS services, data and modeling.  They work closely with Esri and can provide ArcGIS free training, transportation model and data, census/demographic and land use data, modeling analysis and technical support.

For more information visit their web site at https://scag.ca.gov/

A Q & A period followed.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 a.m.