April 27, 2018




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Introducing C.A.R.L.


CALCOG is pleased to announce the California Academy for Regional Leaders (CARL). The Academy will provide our next generation of regional leaders the opportunity to learn the skills and develop the networks they will need to chart California's regions on a course to 2050 and beyond. We are assembling a top-notch faculty to cover policy awareness, technical skills, and "soft skill" leadership training. The program is modeled on other successful city and county leadership programs but will focus on the issues and challenges facing regional governments. The eight-month program starts in September 2018. Applications are due June 30. 


Lots of SB1 News


  • $7.5 Billion for Transformative Projects. Recommendations are out for the Congested Corridors, Trade Corridor Enhancement, and Local Partnership Programs (proposed by CTC) and Transit & Intercity Commuter Rail Program (TIRCP--announced by CalSTA). A lot of good projects there! CTC notes: "SB 1 provides an on-going funding source" so there is also the "opportunity to apply in subsequent cycles.

  • Meanwhile, Back at the Repeal. The effort seeking to return California to the dark ages of crumbling infrastructure investment (too biased?) may soon submit 900,000 signatures--giving them a fair shot at the November ballot. The Coalition to Protect Local Transportation Improvements responded that they will mount a vigorous and well-funded campaign to support SB1 if the repeal measure qualifies.

  • ACTC: Highway to Tell.  Kudos to ACTC for producing a nice map and list project descriptions to tell the SB1 story in Alameda County (note: big file).  Find more at the CALCOG SB 1 Resources
  • SB1, California, & the Administration's Infrastructure Plan. The Wall Street Journal reports that under the administrations plan, "states that raise taxes and tolls would have a better chance at winning federal money for roads and bridges." because it requires states carry a bigger portion of spending.  SB1 positions California well under this framework. But Politico’s Morning Report notes that the repeal--partially funded by House Republicans--undoes this "core" element of the Trump plan for California. 

  • Prop 69 Support Growing. Editorial boards' support for Prop 69 is growing and now includes (to name a few) the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Bakersfield Californian, Desert Sun, San Jose Mercury News, and East Bay Times. See all.

  • Now You (Yes You!!) Can Donate Too. The everyday person on the street who wants to preserve our investment in pothole-free roads, sturdy bridges, congestion relief, and pedestrian and bike safety-- can donate directly to the SB1 campaign.


New Driver at CALTRANS


Welcome Laurie Berman! Ms. Berman was appointed by Governor Brown to be the new Director of the California Department of Transportation in March, 2018. Her directive from Governor Brown?  Simple: "invest SB1 funds ASAP so the public can see the benefit quickly."  Caltrans has posted her formal (and impressive) biography -- and here is a short Q and A Interview with the Engineering News Record. (We never miss an issue.) She will be visiting the COG Directors meeting on Monday.


Fiscal Bill Deadline


It's been a busy week at the Capitol as all the fiscally keyed bills had to make it through their policy committees this week. Lots of long hearings. Below are some of the more notable bills and their progress (or lack thereof).


EPA Did Not Conform to Conformity Rule


With all the focus on SB 375, it's easy to forget how closely the RTP is linked to the Federal Clean Air Act. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just reminded us in South Coast AQMD v. EPA. The court ruled that the EPA did not meet the Act's requirements when it revoked the 1997 Ozone Standard. (Only the most avid Clean Air enthusiast will understand this ruling.) The result is that 82 regions around the country cannot amend their RTPs or TIPs for certain project types. Read FHWA's interim guidance. In Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, and Tuolumne counties, certain "exempt" projects may proceed. Project level NEPA approvals for "non-exempt" projects cannot proceed until conformity to the 1997 standard is completed. Different guidance applies to Sutter County (in SACOG). Stay tuned; More areas could be affected.


Sales Tax Bill Raises A Point (of Sale)


There is a serious conversation occurring about where sales tax from online sales should distributed. Currently the point of sale is the physical location of the distributing company. SCA 20 (Glazer) would change the point of sale to where the package is delivered. This kind of issue can make strange bedfellows--like co-sponsoring Senators Wiener (D, San Francisco) and Moorlach (R, Orange County).  The issue of internet sales tax collection has even reached  the US Supreme Court.  In South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Court considers whether it will overrule its 1992 decision that the Constitution’s commerce clause prohibits states from requiring out-of-state retailers to collect tax on sales to state residents. CALCOG has no position here, but we know that well-informed regional government types like our readers want to stay informed. 


Another NIFTI Idea


Senator Allen; Assembly Member Bloom

Last year, Assembly Member Bloom (D, Santa Monica) successfully carried AB 1568 which creates Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvements (NIFTI) funding for infill projects. Not to be outdone, Senator Allen (also a Westside D representing Santa Monica) has introduced SB 961 to create NIFTI-2 Districts at rail stations and high-frequency bus corridors. The districts would collect enhanced tax increment from increased property and sales taxes to invest in improvements--with 40% going to deed-restricted affordable housing and the remaining 60% to supporting programs focusing on transit stations, promoting ridership, first-last-mile connections, active transportation, parks, urban greening, and parking. Here is Move LA's take (the sponsor of the bill). 


Quick Hits


  • Earmarking Reform. ENO suggests how to keep earmarking on the straight and narrow if Congress revives the currently banned process.

  • 6 Surprising Ways Driverless Cars Will Change Our World.  What happens when human motorists are out of the equation? Add a seventh: the vibrant Mobility as a Service (MaaS) industry will have an incentive to price road maintenance costs into its business model. 
  • Roadside Attractions. Rumble strips on a musical road (video) in Lancaster are cut to play a portion of the William Tell Overture under your tires driven at the speed limit.  And in an "it could only happen in the Show Me State" note: a jar of pickles sits on the median for 6 years, and creates commuter community (story).

  • More Junk in the Trunk. To deal with all the porch package piltchers, Amazon Prime is now delivering packages to the trunk of your car in 37 cities using the Amazon Key App. (H/t Fran Inman).  Not sure what this means for SCA 20 (see above).

  • Is SB 827 Really Dead?  Planning guru Bill Fulton blogs about his surprise at the demise of Senator Weiner's bill. This Slate article describes some reasons for its unpopularity.

  • State Auditor Reviews Penalties for Traffic Enforcement. The report finds no systemic strategy guides the state's use of penalties and fees so they provide inconsistent funding to state and local programs and negatively impact drivers. 

  • CCN Late Breaking News.  Caltrans director Laurie Berman (see above) announced this morning that Steven Keck has accepted the position of Caltrans’ Chief Financial Officer, effective immediately.  Congratulations Mr. Keck!


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