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Nine Focus Areas
1.  Peer-to-Peer Learning
CALCOG facilitates information exchanges between members. Although each region is unique, members can learn from one another's experiences, share information, and build each other’s capacity. For example, many CALCOG members worked collectively through the greenhouse gas target setting process to develop a consistent set of modeling assumptions that is bringing more conformity to transportation modeling. This type of exchange leads to better policy outcomes.

2.  Partnership with CalTrans & CTC
California is a leader in incorporating local decision-making into the planning, funding, and delivery of the transportation networks. The state’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RPTAs) allocate 75% of the funds from for Surface Transportation Program (STP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), and the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). But with this duty comes a responsibility to work with the state to assure that state goals, such as those for housing, air conformity, and climate change, are met. CALCOG facilitates this partnership by monitoring developments on behalf of members and facilitating policy discussion forums between state, regional, and local officials. 

3.  Consensus-Based Advocacy
CALCOG engaged in a consens-based, targeted advocacy on high priority issues. Each year, the Board identifies and confirms the focus areas for the agency.  CALCOG monitors legislation related to transportation, housing, environmental quality, land use, and planning.  CALCOG does not engage on issues where its members favor different approaches to a problem, but it does provide a safe forum is which these differences can be identified, discussed, and even resolved.  

4.  Transportation Financing
CALCOG members have extensive knowledge of transportation needs and the chronic lack of funding to address those needs. CALCOG members worked with the California Transportation Commission to develop a comprehensive statewide needs assessment for the entire transportation and goods movement system. Moreover, transportation financing involves many parties, including the owners, operators, contractors, and engineers associated with transportation projects. CALCOG works with these organizations to educate decision makers and stake holders regarding the needs, revenue options, and impacts and analysis of financing structure implication.

5.  The (Not So) New World of Planning
The road for SB 375 was perhaps originally paved by the blueprints CALCOG members had been developing for a decade. These blueprints brought a focus to regional planning. They were a natural consequence of working with local agencies to distribute housing allocations under state law and plan for transportation improvements under federal law. Under SB 375, MPOs are responsible for developing regional transportation plans that must include a sustainable communities strategy and take into account how land use decisions may affect the needs of the transportation system. CALCOG continues to work with state agencies to assure that there are adequate resources in place for regional and local agencies, not only to make plans, but to bring those plans to life.

6.  Explainer of Things COG

Many people, state official, public, and private interest groups, even other local officials, do not always understand what COGs do and how they function. CALCOG explains the basics of how voluntary regional collaboration leads to greater efficiencies and better planning and service delivery. Everyone is our audience, including local state and federal officials, academia, business, and other nonprofit sector organizations.

7.  State Agency Point of Contact and Collaborator
CALCOG collaborates, educates, and shares information with several state agencies as they develop policy that relate to regional planning issues. These agencies include, among others, the Department of Housing and Community Development, Air Resources Board, Strategic Growth Council, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Often, the information consensus developed during these interactions leads to better policy for local, regional, and state government.

8.  Collaboration on Federal Transportation Policy
CALCOG collaborates with CalTrans, the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, and the California Transportation Commission to develop a statewide unified position on federal transportation issues. The most recent of these efforts was recently completed in anticipation of the current reauthorization bills being considered in Congress. This consensus gives California an especially effective voice during the development. In the past, CALCOG has also collaborated with national organizations such as National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), Association Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO ), National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), and American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

9.  COG Governance Capacity
Finally, CALCOG members are all public organizations striving to deliver high quality, cost effective services to their own member local governments and the public they serve. There are commonalities in organizational responsibilities, in terms of board education, communicating with the public, staffing, and general governance issues that affect the overall effectiveness of the organization. CALCOG was started to identify materials and facilitates programs where members can explore these issues to help improve the capacity of its individual members.