VICTORY ALERT – SCAG Regional Council unanimously adopted the Connect SoCal Plan & PEIR Addendum!

Posted September 3rd, 2020 | Status:

VICTORY ALERT – SCAG Regional Council voted to adopt the Connect SoCal Plan & PEIR Addendum in its entirety!

This Thursday afternoon, the SCAG Regional Council unanimously approved (61-0-0) the motion made by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and SCAG’s Immediate Past President, Bill Jahn to adopt the full ‘Connect SoCal’ and PEIR addendum (Resolution 20-624-1).  This is the result of your communication with SCAG Regional Council leaders making a difference to protect vital projects from CEQA lawsuits that will create over 300K jobs, create  much-needed housing supply, and invest over $684B in transportation infrastructure solutions for the next 25 years.

SCAG President Rex Richardson articulated, “The Connect SoCal plan is an incredible effort with the broad stakeholder outreach efforts. We want to ensure that this 25-year plan is a compass to guide the quality-of-life not just for our current children but our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” 

This victory is a win for the region as it shows the thoughtful collaboration with elected leaders and the business community.

We would like to give a special thank you to SCAG President Rex Richardson, SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise & COO Darin Chidsey for collaborating with the business community during the 120-day delay.

We also want to thank the following BizFed members for participating either in our coalition letter and or testifying in support of today’s vote for the adoption of Connect SoCal;  BIA Southern California,  California Business Roundtable,  Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition (CIAQC),  Central City Association,  Engineering Contractors Association,  Inland Empire Economic Partnership,  Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce,  Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC),  Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, NAIOP,  Orange County Business Council, Port of Long Beach, Regional Black Chamber of Commerce – San Fernando Valley,  San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership,  Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation,  Southern California Contractors Association, Southern California Partnership for Jobs, Southern California Leadership Council, Torrance Area Chamber.

A special thanks to our own BizFed CEQA Committee Co-Chair Jennifer Hernandez, Holland & Knight for all of her technical expertise. As well as BizFed Institute members Climate Resolve and Ron Miller from the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades for standing side by side with us today to get it across the finish line!


WHY WE ENGAGED TO FIND A SOLUTION OVER THE LAST 120 DAYS

Problems with the draft Connect SoCal plan – Why we engaged
  1. Regional Housing Production Planning Harm-  Connect SoCal omitted about 800,000 units of housing the region is required to produce as part of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process.  This meant that cities updating their Housing Elements to approve more housing would be exceeding the ‘Connect SoCal’ “Traffic Analysis Zone”(TAZ) population/housing/employment projections for 2045, which would have triggered the need for a finding that this growth is inconsistent with the region’s greenhouse gas reduction plan, which would have required more Housing Elements to need full EIRs and thereby be delayed, as well as more GHG mitigation which would have increased housing production costs.
  2. Housing Project Harm – Connect SoCal’s TAZ maps massively rejected “local input” and conflicted with local General Plans, meaning that housing that is fully compliant with General Plans and could qualify for streamlined CEQA approvals and no excess GHG mitigation would instead be inconsistent with the region’s GHG reduction plan and need to do more CEQA (aka EIRs) and more GHG mitigation.

Solution – SCAG’s top staff and its officers made the following provisions regarding TAZ maps:

  1. Consistent with past practice, TAZ map growth projections can and are used to confirm existing entitled projects.
  2. TAZ maps cannot be used as the “development pattern” for distributing future RHNA growth.
  3. TAZ map exceedances cannot be used as a basis for finding that a plan or project is inconsistent with Connect SoCal, or be used to assess impacts under CEQA, or be used to deny access to state funding requiring consistency with the SCS.

SCAG is not responsible for enforcing these TAZ map restrictions on local government so it is important that these explicit statements in ‘Connect SoCal’ and its adopting Resolution can be used to defeat claims by housing opponents that projects built based on General Plans and other local input are inconsistent with the SCS based on the highly restrictive and problematic TAZ maps.

The remainder of ‘Connect SoCal’ is full of aspirational goals/policies, and prioritization of transit-neighborhood development, which has its own challenges – but these can be addressed far more easily than the hard-number growth projections at the TAZ map level which the final resolution neutralizes.

In your corner,

Tracy Hernandez,

BizFed Founding CEO

 

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