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Strategic Growth Council Set to Adopt Revised Guidelines to the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program at Jan. 20 Meeting

January 14, 2015
The revised guidelines are expected to be adopted at SGC’s next meeting scheduled on Jan. 20 at the California Department of Public Health East End Complex Auditorium in Sacramento. A copy of the proposed final guidelines and the Jan. 20 meeting agenda are available online.

There are some significant changes from the original draft released in September 2014.
Scoring Criteria Added: The SGC has added the scoring criteria and made it consistent with the primary objective of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction as well as reflect other priorities such as project readiness and other policy considerations. GHG emissions reduction is worth 55 percent of the total score, project readiness and feasibility 15 percent of the overall score and policy considerations such as housing related issues, co-benefits and transportation connectivity is with 30 percent.
Greenhouse Gas Quantification Methodology Chosen: California Air Resources Board (ARB) chose an interim methodology for the AHSC Program using components of the California Emissions Estimator Model (CalEEMod), a land use emissions calculator tool designed to quantify GHG emissions and criteria air pollutants associated with land use development projects.
Metropolitan Planning Organization Role Established: The statute requires the SGC to coordinate with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to identify projects and recommend projects within their respective jurisdictions that best reflect the goals and objectives of the program. The AHSC Program application review process proposes that concept application for the respective region will be provided to each MPO. The MPO may review concept applications and inform the SGC of their view of the project’s support of the applicable Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). Each MPO will also be provided copies of the full applications and may provide recommendations to the SGC for consideration for their perspective region. The MPO recommendations are advisory only.
Technical Assistance for Prospective Applicants: Recognizing the tight timeline and newness of this program, there will be a series of Notice of Funding Availability workshops and technical assistance workshops to assist applicants in navigating the process. Dates and locations of workshops will be released at the Jan. 20 SGC meeting. ARB staff will also be available to answer applicant questions and provide technical assistance in using the quantification methodology.
Other Refinements:
  • Minimum project size eliminated, but reflected in GHG calculation score.
  • Minimum density requirement reduced to reflect state default densities.
  • Elimination of the public agency requirement on all applications, except where a public agency has an interest or stake in the proposed project.
  • Award limits on localities and developers waived by state if needed to meet statutory affordable housing or disadvantaged community set-aside.
  • Increased maximum costs allowed for impact fees from $200,000 to $300,000, not exceeding 15 percent of the total request.
  • Removal of the 50 percent match requirement for transportation/transit-related infrastructure.
  • No net loss of affordable housing units applies to all capital projects.
  • An anti-displacement criterion applies to all projects.
  • Increased maximum funds allowed for program uses from 10 percent to 30 percent of total award, up to $500,000. 
The AHSC Program will provide grants and loans for affordable housing, infill and compact transit-oriented development, and infrastructure connecting these projects to transit. Projects funded by the program will support reduction of GHG emissions through reduced vehicle miles travelled and increased accessibility of affordable housing, employment center, and key destinations through fewer or short vehicular trips or mode shift to other transportation options such as transit, bicycling or walking. Funds will be allocated based upon the merits of the applications submitted and the proposed use of funds within an identified project area. The program requirements focus on the reduction of GHG emissions, project readiness and other policy considerations and required by statute.
The following are the timeframes for the 2014-15 AHSC Program:
  • January             Final Draft Guidelines to Council for Approval
  • Late January     Funding Solicitation and Application Released
  • Mid-February     Concept Applications Released
  • Mid-April           Full Applications Due
  • June                 Recommended Awards Announced for Council Approval

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