Last week, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) was set to approve Connect SoCal, the regional transportation plan. However, Safe Routes Partnership and several allied partner organizations successfully advocated to delay passage of the plan by 120 days to allow for engagement with stakeholders to consider adjustments to respond to the impact of Covid-19. We met with Executive Director Kome Ajise, Board President Bill Jahn, President Elect Rex Richardson as well as staff in advance of the meeting, and testified at the hearing. We pushed for four key actions:
Conduct regional and local transportation assessments for short and long term planning decisions: Help jurisdictions conduct assessments such as mapping active transportation and transit facilities near essential locations.
Expand transportation safety funding opportunities to include Environmental Justice Planning & Emergency Resilience Plans: Funding must be set aside or prioritized to help environmental justice communities hardest hit by Covid-19, for short-term needs such as PPE for transit workers and riders and long-term needs such as supporting transit and active transportation networks near essential business.
More holistic planning approaches for community engagement: In the short-term, go beyond online-only engagement and consider radio media spots, phone calls, flyers, pop ups at essential business, and in the long-term, institutionalize community engagement and planning around access to basic needs like access to medical care, food, jobs, transportation, etc.
Invite Community-Based Organizations into the Economic Recovery Strategy: Ensure community input is considered in prioritization of economic recovery strategies.
While the board did not vote on our specific asks, in the next 120 days we will work with SCAG staff on how to implement these concerns and revise Connect SoCal. For example, SCAG’s Go Human’s Mini Grant Call for Projects has been expanded to include projects that address COVID-19 transportation safety concerns.