CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing Land Use and Transportation


California Transportation Commission Kicks Off Road Usage Charge Study

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) will begin its statutorily required study of potential options to replace the state gas tax next Friday, January 23. SB 1077 (Chapter No. 835, Statutes of 2014) requires the CTC to form a technical advisory committee (TAC) to specifically study road usage charge (RUC) alternatives and make recommendations, no later than June 30, 2018, to the Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) on the design of a statewide pilot program.

The RUC TAC is a 15-member body comprised of individuals who represent the telecommunications industry, highway user groups, regional transportation agencies, national research and policy making bodies, members of the Legislature and other relevant stakeholders as determined by the Chair of the CTC. Local and regional governments are well represented on the RUC TAC with two County Supervisors (Scott Haggerty, Alameda County and David Finigan, Del Norte County) and two Mayors (Pam O’Connor, City of Santa Monica and Robert Poythress, City of Madera). The RUC TAC will meet monthly throughout 2015. The agenda materials can be found on the CTC’s website and include a schedule of anticipated meetings for 2015.

In recognition that the state’s transportation infrastructure has been long neglected and traditional sources of revenue are no longer adequate (gas tax revenues are predicted to decline by 23% in FY 2015-16 due to reduced gasoline prices and consumption), the Governor recently expressed his support for the CTC’s efforts by proposing an augmentation of $9.4 million and five CTC positions. Any potential replacement of the state gas tax with a road usage charge is at best, five or more years away. CSAC will remain engaged in the CTC’s efforts to study long-term funding solutions but will focus on short-term solutions in the 2015 legislative session.

Sustainable Communities

Strategic Growth Council to Approve Final Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Grant Guidelines

Last Friday afternoon, the Strategic Growth Council posted materials for their January 20 meeting, including revised guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Grant program. While CSAC staff continue to have concerns about the complexity of the guidelines, the SGC staff streamlined and improved many components in a manner that addresses issue raised by CSAC and other commenters. CSAC will submit our comments on the guidelines today.

Our primary concern continues to be the rigid requirements that do not allow transportation projects in areas served by qualifying high-quality transit unless they are accompanied by an affordable housing development, and the corresponding inability to pursue affordable housing projects in areas served by transit, but which lack 15-minute headways or seven day per week service.

A short summary of the key changes is available on pages 91-97 of the agenda item here. Several changes were of particular interest to CSAC:

Greater reliance on greenhouse gas emissions reductions in scoring criteria. The revised guidelines award 55% of points based on GHG-reductions, 15% for feasibility and readiness, and 30% for policy considerations. This framework better aligns with the fundamental statutory goals of the program. The prior guidelines awarded 35-40% of points for feasibility and readiness, 40-45% for improved access and 15-20% for community orientation. The scoring criteria were also streamlined and simplified in several instances, and some overly-prescriptive criteria were removed. and several measures that were redundant (i.e. criteria that could be more simply captured through the GHG metric) were eliminated in

Changes to density and minimum unit requirements. Minimum unit requirements and references to metropolitan and non-metropolitan are removed in the revised guidelines and minimum net densities are reduced to state default densities from housing element law. CSAC is concerned about the use of default densities in this context, but overall, these changes will allow smaller affordable housing projects compete, although project size will still be considered through the GHG-reduction metric.

Transportation-related infrastructure limitations removed. The draft guidelines restricted transportation and transit-related infrastructure and/or green infrastructure to 50% of the capital budget for a project; the limitation for transportation-related infrastructure is removed in the revised guidelines. Eliminating this matching requirement will allow transportation-focused projects to better compete for funding.

Clarified role of public agencies in application process. Public agencies are now only required to be co-applicants if there is a financial or real property interest of a public agency in a proposed project. This could help facilitate applications for affordable housing projects.

Technical assistance for applicants. SGC staff are developing a series of workshops on the grant guidelines and technical assistance workshops to assist applicants in navigating the process. Dates and locations will be released at the January 20 SGC meeting. Specific technical assistance to assist with GHG emissions quantification will be provided by California Air Resources Board staff, who will be available to answer applicant questions and provide technical assistance in using the quantification methodology for AHSC applications during the application period. After the first grant round, CSAC looks forward to working with the SGC to better understand long-term local agency needs for technical assistance, thereby ensuring that no agency is dissuaded from applying due to a lack of technical expertise.

The proposed timeline for the grant program is as follows:

  • 2014-15 AHSC NOFA Released: Week of January 26, 2015
  • NOFA Workshops and Technical Assistance: Early February 2015
  • Concept Proposal Due to HCD: February 19, 2015
  • Invitation to Select Applicants to Submit Full Application: March 11, 2015
  • Full Application Due to HCD: April 15, 2015
  • Staff Award Recommendations Released: mid-June 2015
  • Council Considers and Approves Staff Recommendations for Awards: Late June 2015.


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