Legislative Principles

Introduction

Regional agencies serve as a forum to create regional solutions for area wide needs, develop plans and strategies for a broad range issues, to strengthen and assist local governments, and advocate for locals at the state and federal levels.  CALCOG has developed the following policy principles to serve as the foundation for policy advocacy and communications in order to best represent our diverse membership.

I.   Regional Governance

CALCOG promotes effective regional governance. A top priority is to share information with state and local government partners, stakeholders, and the public about the role of regional governments and the benefits of regional planning and decision-making to implement policies and solve regional problems.  CALCOG:

  • Support "bottoms-up" approaches to regional governance that respect local decision making authority and assures regional flexibility. 

  • Support legislative and administrative measures that authorize local agencies to act collaboratively to achieve regional goals. 

  • Protect the authority of regional agencies to set regional priorities and program funding. 

  • Protect and increase direct funding to regions through both federal and state programs. 

  • Oppose cost shifts and unfunded mandates in the responsibility areas of CALCOG 
members. 

  • Support appropriate performance measures developed and implemented cooperatively 
between federal, state, regional, and local agencies. 

  • Support appropriate funding to regional agencies to match new state and federal 
requirements for enhanced planning, delivery, and performance review.

II.      Transportation Policy

State and federal law require regional agencies to play an integral role in planning, funding, and managing transportation systems.  Regions work directly with local elected officials, stakeholders, and the public to incorporate their input into these plans. To make these plans a reality, federal, state and local government must adequately fund all transportation modes. System preservation, congestion management, safety, air quality, and the reduction of green house gas emissions are priorities and requirements for regional agencies that require increased investment to be successful.

A.  Planning and Programming

CALCOG supports measures that allow regions to develop regional plans that meet the needs of their member cities and counties.

  • Reinforce and build upon the structure of SB 45 that provides regions a strong voice in the programming of projects within regions.
  • Ensure local agencies, COGs, MPOs, RTPAs, CMAs and Transportation Commissions receive sufficient funding to fulfill their planning and programming obligations, including planning, data gathering and analysis, and public engagement related to developing and implementing the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS). 

  • Support open collaboration, data sharing, and funding to successfully implement federal and state performance-based planning and management requirements. 

  • Ensure that other state plans and programs remain consistent with the goals and structure of regional transportation plans. 

  • Protect and enhance the programming authority for Regional Transportation Planning Agencies in all regions of the state.
  • Support a robust transportation research program at the federal and state levels to investigate and use new technology, data and methods of data collection, innovative materials, and other improvements that could be incorporated into regional plans and project delivery programs. 

  • Since regional transportation plans must be adopted every four or five years, support efforts to streamline CEQA or exempt elements or assumptions within these plans that are slated to occur in the later periods of the twenty or thirty year planning period. Such impacts, can be appropriately reviewed in subsequent regional transportation plans if they materialize.

B.  Transportation Finance 


Regions strongly support dedicated, robust, formula based funding for California’s transportation system. The unmet needs are well defined.  Current funding levels are wholly inadequate. Funding for transportation in California has increasingly come from local governments sources. The federal and state governments must also increase existing revenues or develop new revenue sources to contribute to the system. CALCOG supports these efforts and will work with our stakeholder partners to increase funding. 


  • Provide additional, reliable, and sufficient transportation funding. Pay transportation loans back, and index all transportation revenues to inflation.
  • Reset the price-based excise tax to 18-cents per gallon and eliminate the annual adjustment intended to maintain revenue neutrality.
  • Create a funding stream dedicated to improving freight mobility, and administer the program through the Trade Corridor Improvement Fund
  • Support the exploration of a Road User Charge to replace the gasoline tax. 

  • Support increased funding for all modes of transportation including state highways, local streets and roads, transit, and active transportation. 

  • Place a constitutional amendment before the voters protecting all transportation revenues and ensure existing revenues are invested in transportation.
  • Provide a dedicated revenue source for regional and local governments to support the implementation of SB 375. 

  • Expand innovative financing and project delivery options to facilitate creative solutions for project funding. 

  • Support legislation that lowers the voter threshold required to pass transportation infrastructure initiatives to 55 percent. 

  • Require the State Highway Performance Plan to include measurable targets for improving the state system, and require Caltrans to provide regular reports on its progress to CalSTA and the Commission.
  • Expand the provisions of SB 743 (Steinberg, 2013) to prohibit a cause of action, under CEQA, challenging a transportation project included in an RTP that is compliant with requirements of a regional transportation plan (with an SCS).

C.  Transportation Programs

Regions support a federal and state transportation programs that encourage and reward innovative solutions to the movement of people and goods, while protecting the environment.

  • Support measures to improve opportunities for businesses and citizens to easily access goods, jobs, services, and housing. 

  • Increase direct funding and suballocation of resources to regional agencies. 

  • Support Transportation Demand Management strategies such as ridesharing, including
vanpooling and the use of Transportation Network Companies, and encourage use of 
technology, such as telecommuting, that can reduce single person vehicle use. 

  • Support complete streets designed to accommodate all users, including cars, trucks, transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians. 

  • Protect and increase funding for the operation and expansion of transit and intercity and passenger rail service. 

  • Provide dedicated funding for a freight program to fund projects and innovative 
solutions for the movement of goods. 

  • Provide environmental review exemptions for specific repairs, safety projects, and transportation projects within existing public rights of way that directly further State policy priorities.
  • Authorize the Administration to implement an “advanced mitigation” environmental program, including approving an up-front environmental mitigation program funding set-aside.
  • Reauthorize and remove the sunset for assignment of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities to California, and make the waiver of sovereign immunity permanent for such assignment.
  • Authorize Caltrans and its partners to use alternative procurement methods permanently and without limits.
  • Require early engagement of state resource agencies in the CEQA process for transportation projects to reduce permit processing time and require reasonable deadlines for permit approvals.

 III.    Sustainable Development and Infrastructure

Regions support fair and appropriate responses to address the problems associated with systemically underfund of transportation, urban, and rural infrastructure. This means finding new sources of funding as well as making the most efficient use of current funding sources.

  • Support measures that propose to invest and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure in a way that is fair, such as user pays systems. 

  • Support funding for capital and operational investments to support effective, location efficient transit that will reduce the region’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. 

  • Streamline and improve transportation project delivery processes to eliminate unnecessarily and duplicative requirements, including supporting concurrent environmental review, including developing a reciprocity program to allow state environmental reviews to count toward the federal process. 

  • Expand innovative methods of project management and delivery, such as design-build, that can help complete projects in a timely and cost efficient manner. 

  • Generally reform CEQA to better account for positive environmental impacts of transportation and smart land use projects 


 IV.  Cap and Trade

Regions play a critical role the success of the State of California’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. MPOs must develop plans to meet reduction targets for cars and light trucks set by the Air Resources Board. The Cap and Trade program serves as a funding source for programs that support the state’s greenhouse gas reductions goals. As the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the GHG emissions in California, changing transportation behavior (i.e., choice of vehicle, commute or housing location) is a top priority.

  • Dedicate the allocation revenues related to fuels to investments that reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector. 

  • Maximize the investment revenues to implement SB 375 and other regional strategies to reduce GHGs, including funding for transit, active transportation, and complete streets infrastructure. Investments should favor integrated transportation and land use strategies. 

  • Invest funds in a manner consistent with sustainable community strategies. In regions where SB 375 does not apply, other measurable greenhouse gas reduction strategies should be developed within regional transportation plans. 

  • Allocate transportation funds regionally by population, recognizing that different strategies are needed to achieve an optimum mix of GHG reductions and co-benefits in different areas of the state. Individual project-funding determinations should be awarded through a competitive regional process that is consistent with statewide criteria and enforcement. 

  • Provide funding for the development of modeling and measurement tools to improve performance measures to better evaluate and predict GHG reductions.
  • State funding should encourage innovative projects. Grant criteria should allow time for transportation projects to be programmed instead of focusing on more project readiness. 

  • Support criteria that recognize the unique public nature of transportation programming and infrastructure funding. 

  • Funding should be awarded to projects that get the most GHG reductions per dollar invested. 

  • The state should adopt accurate models and tools that fairly account for conditions in all regions. 


 V.   Housing

Many COGs are tasked with setting the Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Regions also incorporate the future of housing growth and development in their transportation plans. Linking land use, housing, and transportation decisions is integral to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Regions work closely with their local agencies to forecast land use development, including housing needs, growth, and the relationship to the transportation network..

  • Work with our local government partners to amend housing element law (and related administrative procedures) to give jurisdictions flexibility to provide affordable housing that is appropriate for their community and remove disincentives and regulatory obstacles to providing affordable housing.
  • Seek funding to reimburse COGs for Regional Housing Needs Allocation compliance costs. 

  • Support incentives for jurisdictions that provide opportunities for more housing, including affordable and transit-oriented developments (TODs) and encourage the siting of these developments near areas with transportation resources and future planned investments. 

  • Work with our local government partners to support approaches to funding affordable housing. 


VI.     Economic Development

Regions, in partnership with cities and counties, encourage job growth in their areas by planning for and incentivizing business development through infrastructure improvements and innovative programs and policies. With the dissolution of redevelopment, cities and counties are looking for new tools to continue to revitalize their communities and regions support these goals.

  • Support funding for the planning and development of infrastructure that results in the creation and retention of jobs, including transportation, housing and technology deployment. 

  • Encourage the location of job centers and housing be consistent with regional transportation plans 

  • Support the use of innovative financing, such as Infrastructure Financing Districts, and mitigation programs, such as advance mitigation, to help plan and develop areas to attract and retain businesses. 

  • Support policies and funding to increase deployment of technology infrastructure, such as broadband, to support business development.