Kern Council of Governments (Kern COG)
As the federally-designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the state-designated Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) for Kern County, Kern COG is responsible for developing and updating a variety of transportation plans and for allocating the federal and state funds to implement them.
Although regional transportation planning is its primary role, Kern COG also functions as the state-designated Census Data Center Affiliate for the Kern Region and the Kern Motorist Aid Authority, which operates emergency call boxes on county highways. Kern COG also provides leadership in the development of geographic information systems in local government.
Kern COG has published a Roles and Responsibilities Manual that explains many of these duties in more detail.
Following Board direction, staff coordinates between local, state, and federal agencies to avoid overlap or duplication of programs. This intergovernmental coordination enables staff to work with many public agencies to ensure that planning and implementation of programs proceed in a coordinated manner.
Kern COG is one of 8 MPOs that make up the San Joaquin Valley Policy Council.
- Environmental Justice--Kern COG's emphasis on environmental justice has earned it national and state recognition. In the 2010, California Transportation Plan Guidelines, the CTC acknowledged Kern COG’s effort as a best practice for environmental justice analysis within an RTP. The Natural Resources Services also featured Kern COG in a best practices report for its Public Involvement Program and Environmental Justice Report. Kern COG actively sought input from low-income and minority residents by holding meetings outside traditional hours, at venues easily accessible by transit, and by attending community fairs and festivals.
- Road to Discovery--Kern COG runs an educational campaign for 6th grade students in the County that includes an Telly award-winning DVD with accompanying curriculum to help them meet their science fair requirements. The DVD follows two high school students as they interview experts and discover facts about Kern County's air quality and pollution. Kern COG encourages teachers to use this resource and its instruction manual and website to spark student interest in climate change.
The Board of Directors is comprised of 1 elected official from each of the 11 incorporated cities in Kern County, 2 Kern County Supervisors, 1 ex-officio member representing Caltrans District 6, and 1 ex-officio member representing Golden Empire Transit District.
A highlight of the joint ARB-CTC meeting was the joint presentation by the 8 valley metropolitan planning organizations. Their presentations highlight several programs throughout the region that were bearing fruit in terms of community building and reducing emissions.
Fourteen CALCOG members have joined a joint powers authority to operate CalVans, which offers over 800 Vanpools statewide that collective take more than 300,000 vehicle miles traveled off the roads . . . every day.