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What is the RTP-SCS?

Connected 2050 is an update of our region’s long-range Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). The Connected 2050 Plan provides a collective vision for the region’s future that balances transportation and housing needs with social, economic, and environmental goals. The plan helps guide future planning efforts and policy decisions that affect transportation, including its relationship with housing and land use, that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our region.

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2050 Update Process

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) updates the SCS with the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) every 4 years. The last RTP-SCS update was completed in 2017. The Connected 2050 RTP-SCS update will be completed by August 2021.

The final Connected 2050 RTP-SCS will provide recommendations to help our cities and the County of Santa Barbara make important decisions about transportation, housing, and land-use in the next 3-5 years. The Connected 2050 RTP-SCS provides forward-looking recommendations out to 2050 because many of these local government decisions will influence the region’s long-term growth and development for the next 30 years.

By October 2020, SBCAG staff will use technical analysis and community input to create several different future “scenarios.” Each of the scenarios will represent a different vision for future development, growth, and transportation in our region. Once several different scenarios have been developed, each one will be tested and evaluated. SBCAG will use computer modeling and analysis to determine how well each of the future scenarios would meet state goals to reduce GHG emissions – while also meeting the regional goals, objectives and performance measures laid out in the Connected 2050 Plan.

Community input is essential to this process. By providing your ideas about how your community can be improved and developed, SBCAG is able to consider and test a wider range of future options that are more aligned with community preferences. Your involvement will help SBCAG identify the best paths to a sustainable future that reflects community desires and needs, while enhancing public health, improving safety and equity, complying with existing laws, and preparing for anticipated growth in our region.

After all of the different scenarios are evaluated, SBCAG will conduct workshops to share what they have learned and to collect community input on the different scenarios. The input and ideas that community members share during these workshops will help SBCAG identify a “preferred growth scenario” for the Connected 2050 SCS. The preferred growth scenario will need to reduce GHG emissions and meet the goals, objectives and performance measures of Connected 2050.

The preferred growth scenario will influence many of the transportation and land-use recommendations in the final Connected 2050 Plan. After the final SCS is adopted in 2021, local governments across our region will use its recommendations to guide important decisions about housing, growth, and the development of local communities over time.

Language Access

Just Communities is working with SBCAG and CEC to create an inclusive, multilingual community outreach process for Connected 2050.

Translation and interpretation specialists with Just Communities are providing the following language-access services for Connected 2050:

  • Spanish-language interpretation at all Connected 2050 listening sessions and workshops
  • Translation of Spanish-language communications and input received from the community members
  • Spanish-language translation of all public information and educational materials for Connected 2050, such as flyers, social media posts, and web content.

Just Communities will use best practices from their Language Justice Initiative to ensure that everyone’s voices are truly heard and included in the final Connected 2050 plan.

FAQs

Connected 2050 is an update of our region’s long-range Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). The Connected 2050 Plan provides a collective vision for the region’s future that balances transportation and housing needs with social, economic, and environmental goals. The plan helps guide future planning and policy decisions that affect transportation, housing, and land use so the region can reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause climate change. Local governments will begin using recommendations in Connected 2050 to help them update community plans in 2021.

The State of California legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 375 in 2008, which requires all of our state’s metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), including SBCAG, to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) when they update their Regional Transportation Plan. The primary goal of SB 375 and the SCS is to coordinate transportation and land-use planning at the local and regional level in ways that will reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and help meet important public needs. The SCS always includes recommendations for land-use and transportation that are consistent with predictions about future growth and housing needs in the region.

Planning land use and transportation together helps us build better communities that are more connected, healthy, vibrant, and prosperous. Land-use plans for cities and the County of Santa Barbara have a significant impact on travel and transportation needs in the region. The way land is used affects our life in many ways, including:

  • How far we travel to reach our jobs or schools.
  • What types of services and opportunities we can easily access in our communities.
  • Where we can find safe, stable, and affordable housing.
  • How goods such as food or medicine are transported.
  • How much we need to drive and the types of transportation options that we can conveniently use.

Each city and county government must develop and regularly update their land-use plans. Local land-use plans determine where houses, apartments, offices, commercial spaces, and other types of new development can be built. Connected 2050 provides a regional vision that will help local governments make land-use decisions that help meet important community needs and reduce GHG emissions.

If most of the affordable housing in a region is located far away from areas with more job opportunities, then more people will need to travel long distances to reach their workplace. Across California, more and more people are making longer commutes because of a jobs-housing imbalance. A “jobs-housing imbalance” means some areas in the region have a large number of jobs but less access to affordable housing (“jobs-rich, housing-poor areas”), and other parts of the region have a large amount of affordable housing but limited job opportunities (“housing-rich, jobs-poor areas”).

Santa Barbara County is one of the regions in California with a significant jobs-housing imbalance. It’s estimated that more than 20,000 people commute from Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties to work in the Santa Barbara County region every weekday. Over the past several decades, many South Coast workers have also relocated to areas with more affordable housing in North Santa Barbara County, which has increased long-distance commutes to South Coast job centers.

In the past, local transportation and land-use planning did not always address the increasing imbalance between housing and jobs access. The growing reliance on long-distance commuting has created many challenges for the region that affect people’s quality of life, including traffic jams on busy roads, increased air pollution, rising GHG emissions from transportation, and higher transportation costs for many households.

We are not alone and are working with many other regions in California to create a better future.

If implemented by our local governments, the Connected 2050 SCS will help us create communities where more people can live, work, play and prosper. This will reduce the need for long commutes, improve access to a variety of transportation options, cut down on traffic congestion, improve air quality, support greater community resilience to natural disasters, and help to ensure that future generations inherit a livable climate.

Only local cities and counties have the authority to make land uses decisions. None of the region’s cities or the County of Santa Barbara are required to follow the land-use planning recommendations in the SCS. However, cities and counties cannot access many sources of state funding for transportation and housing projects unless their local plans follow land-use recommendations in Connected 2050’s SCS. This gives local governments an incentive to follow Connected 2050 recommendations, so they can access more state funding for projects that will benefit their communities and the greater region.

At its core, the Connected 2050 RTP-SCS is intended to reduce GHG emissions that contribute to climate change while helping achieve a number of important local and regional goals. Achieving these long-term goals will help make our communities stronger and more resilient. Connected 2050 identifies goals and objectives, which are developed with community members and stakeholders. The goals and objectives guide the development of recommendations and track the impact of the plan over time.

The goals in Connected 2050 help SBCAG and the region’s local government develop, prioritize, fund, and implement important transportation projects and community improvements. The Connected 2050 goals will cover five core areas:

  1. Environment:  Support growth, development, and transportation that will protect natural resources (including a stable climate) leading to a healthier environment and healthier communities.
  2. Mobility & System Reliability:  Provide reliable options for travel by automobile, bus, train, bicycling, walking, and other transportation modes.
  3. Equity:  Prioritize implementation of projects, programs, and policies that will create more equitable access to transportation, housing, and economic opportunities for groups that have been marginalized, underrepresented, and/or exploited in the past planning for the region (including rural communities, communities of color, immigrant groups, Native American tribes, people with disabilities, youth, and seniors).
  4. Health & Safety:  Improve public health and ensure the safety of the regional transportation system.
  5. A Prosperous Economy:  Build a more efficient transportation system that promotes regional prosperity and economic growth for the region’s diverse communities.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) updates the SCS with their Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) every 4 years. The last RTP-SCS update was completed in 2017.

Between now and early October 2020, SBCAG will use technical analysis and community input to create several different future “scenarios”. Each of the scenarios that SBCAG develops will represent a different vision for future development, growth, and transportation in our region. SBCAG will test and evaluate each scenario to see how it would reduce GHG emissions – while also meeting important social, economic, and environmental goals for the region’s communities. After all scenarios are evaluated, SBCAG will conduct Connected 2050 community workshops to share what they learned and collect community input. SBCAG will use input from the workshops to identify a “preferred growth scenario” for Connected 2050 that will reduce GHG emissions and meet other important needs. SBCAG will use the preferred growth scenario to develop the full Connected 2050 plan. A draft version of the plan and environmental documents will be released for public comment before public hearings are held with SBCAG’s Board. The final version of Connected 2050 will be adopted by August 2021.

For more details about the process, go to the 2050 Update Process page.

Connected 2050 includes several core components that will influence the future development of the region and local communities over the next 30 years. These core components include:

  • The region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, which includes a preferred growth scenario. The preferred growth scenario recommends regional land-use patterns, development policies, and transportation strategies for local communities. These recommendations are intended to reduce GHG emissions, which cause climate change, so the region’s current and future generations can thrive.
  • Forecasts to help stakeholders and the public anticipate future needs related to housing, population, land use, and employment.
  • An update of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which determines what types and how much new housing each of our local governments must develop for their communities under state law.
  • A social equity and environmental justice evaluation to determine how the plan affects the region’s “disadvantaged” communities, including communities of color and low-income households that are more affected by poverty, pollution, and histories of marginalization.
  • A Financial Element, which provides a reasonable estimate of the funding that will be available to meet transportation needs over the next 30 years and a list of transportation and mobility projects that are expected to be finished before 2050.
  • An Action Element which evaluates the region’s key needs, opportunities, and issues affecting local communities, such as:
    • Access to transportation, biking and walking (active transportation), passenger rail, and access to public transit services
    • Community health, environmental justice, clean mobility equity, transportation safety, and security
    • Goods movement, trucking, and related economic needs or opportunities
    • Improvements to highways, busy local roads (arterial streets)
    • Traffic congestion, long-distance commuting, and safer streets that serve all road users
    • Access to and conservation of open spaces, farms, natural lands, recreational opportunities, and community centers

SBCAG will use the input that community members share to develop the goals in the Connected 2050 plan and to select a “preferred growth scenario” for the Connected 2050 SCS. The preferred scenario will need to reduce GHG emissions and meet the goals, objectives and performance measures developed for the Connected 2050 plan.

Public participation is vital for creating a Connected 2050 that meets the housing, transportation, and economic needs for our region’s communities. If you work, live, go to school, or operate a business in Santa Barbara County, you can help SBCAG create a better Connected 2050 by sharing your input and ideas.

Community Environmental Council and Just Communities are partnering with SBCAG to provide multilingual community outreach services that will promote more inclusive engagement for Connected 2050. The public participation timeline shows how you can get involved. Your participation will help SBCAG identify the best strategies for building a more equitable, prosperous, and healthy region in direct partnership with its communities.

Sign up for notifications to receive more information about the ways you can get involved and see our list of events for upcoming opportunities.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG )is the “lead agency”, which means that their staff are responsible for facilitating the development of the SCS with the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). SBCAG understands the importance of input and consensus and is focused on leading a collaborative process to create the SCS. SBCAG has partnered with Community Environmental Council and Just Communities to provide a public outreach process that is inclusive and accessible for our region’s diverse communities. Policy committees, local governments, subregional committees, several state and federal agencies (including Caltrans), environmental and business communities, tribal governments, non-profit groups, and community members will be engaged to guide SBCAG’s development of the Connected 2050 RTP-SCS.

Learn more about SBCAG.

The Community Environmental Council (CEC) and Just Communities are partnering with SBCAG to provide multilingual public outreach and engagement to help people learn about and improve Connected 2050. Our goal is to support a community outreach process that will allow all voices to be heard and give all interested community members the opportunity to influence Connected 2050.

CEC will support SBCAG’s outreach goals for Connected 2050 by helping to connect with a wider range of stakeholders who can share their vision for their community’s future. Just Communities is working with SBCAG and CEC to create a multilingual community outreach process for Connected 2050, using best practices from their Language Justice Initiative to ensure that everyone’s voices are truly heard and included in the final Connected 2050 plan.

Learn more about Community Environmental Council.
Learn more about Just Communities.

Various elements of the Connected 2050 Plan will be brought before SBCAG’s Joint Technical Advisory Committee (JTAC) for review, and then before SBCAG’s Board for final approval in August 2021. SBCAG is governed by a 13-member board of directors consisting of all five District Supervisors for the County of Santa Barbara and one City Councilmember from each of the eight cities within the County.

Go to Share Your Feedback to learn how you can share your comments and input for Connected 2050 with SBCAG.

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