Southern California Regional Climate Adaptation Framework

SB1 Adaptation Planning Grant: Final Case Study

 

Summary

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) developed the Southern California Regional Climate Adaptation Framework (“Framework”) to support climate adaptation planning across its six counties. Development of the Framework involved inclusive public engagement through coordination across all sectors, disadvantaged communities, and tribal communities and integrates existing State initiatives, policies, and guidance into the Framework, helping to connect local and regional land use and transportation planning with the work of state agencies. The Framework began in February 2019 and was completed in February 2021.

To help advance climate adaptation efforts across the SCAG region, the Framework includes resources and tools for local jurisdictions, regional planning agencies, and other stakeholders. One of these key resources is the Southern California Adaptation Planning Guide which aligns with the phases and steps in the statewide California Adaptation Planning Guide and highlights examples and tools for adaptation planning specific to the Southern California region. Additionally, tools include a matrix of climate strategies and actions, project checklists to assess project vulnerability to climate hazards, and metrics regional planning agencies and local jurisdictions can use to track climate adaptation implementation efforts. Along with tools for implementing adaptation planning, SCAG developed a web tool with detailed scenarios for land use and transportation analysis of climate change impacts to the Southern California region.

Additional key deliverables included a climate change communication outreach toolkit and model language for general plan development, including a strategies and actions matrix.

Lead Agency & Partnerships

SCAG was the Lead Agency and engaged with local jurisdictions, councils of government, non-profits, and other entities engaged in adaptation planning. SCAG also collaborated with other MPOs and State agencies including the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the California Natural Resources Agency, the Strategic Growth Council, CalTrans, and the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program Technical Advisory Council.

Drivers

The project aims to provide resources and tools for local jurisdictions and other entities to ensure that adaptation planning is being incorporated into local planning efforts. A wide array of regional stakeholders were engaged throughout development of the project, with no single community driving the planning process. The project is consistent with the goals and policies identified in the California Transportation Plan 2040 to expand regional resiliency planning and to evaluate climate change facility risks and vulnerability. The funding opportunity present for this project was the SB 1 CalTrans Adaptation Planning Grant Program.

Engagement Process

SCAG is home to 67% of the State’s Disadvantaged Communities (DACs). These populations are vulnerable to climate impacts from sea level rise, extreme heat, flooding and debris flows, fire, and urban heat island effect; however, they have few resources for adaptation planning.

The stakeholders for this project include SCAG’s member agencies, which include 191 cities and six counties, non-profit agencies, county transportation commissions, councils of government, transportation agencies, health departments, utilities, and members of the public.

The engagement process incorporated a mix of in-person and virtual workshops, meetings, and trainings, as well as more innovative engagement approaches (i.e., pop-up events). This engagement process provided a space for stakeholders to feedback as well as training and education opportunities for stakeholders.

The goal of the engagement process was to initiate adaptation planning efforts in as many cities and local agencies as possible and to make stakeholders more knowledgeable of and more engaged in adaptation planning.

Climate Impact Area

The project area is large and geographically diverse, so the project focused on a broad range of climate impacts, including sea level rise, fire, extreme heat, flooding and debris flows, and urban heat island effect. This project responds to these climate impacts by improving education and outreach to make climate impacts and adaptation more relatable for Southern California residents and by developing resources and toolkits to help cities incorporate adaptation and resiliency considerations into their future projects.

This project did not include a direct greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction component but will indirectly reduce GHGs through education and outreach on the adverse impacts of climate change.

Funding Source

The Project was funded by a SB1 Caltrans Adaptation Planning Grant of $941,700. The total cost of the project was $1,063,824, utilizing local match funds for the remainder.

Research and Data

This project utilized a number of existing local and state resources including the following:

Challenges

The major project challenge was the number and diversity of communities and stakeholders involved and completing all engagement efforts. To address these challenges, SCAG worked with its consultant to undertake a robust outreach effort that reached as many stakeholders as possible by hosting pop-up events across the region, quarterly working group meetings, and webinars and trainings to share key project milestones and deliverables. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, all subsequent outreach efforts, such as sub-regional presentations throughout the 6-county region, were conducted virtually.

Outcomes

SCAG aims to improve education and outreach and to provide valuable tools and resources for local jurisdictions and other MPOs through the project. This project is a starting point for SCAG’s continuing efforts in adaptation planning, as well as efforts in resilience. The next steps for this project include disseminating the Framework and its components to SCAG’s stakeholders.

Replicability

Several project tasks resulted in templates and resources that can be replicated in other jurisdictions or other MPO regions. For example, project deliverables included a matrix of strategies and actions to address an array of climate hazards, model language, and policy guidance for incorporating adaptation strategies. These deliverables can be used in conjunction to help move jurisdictions into decision-making actions as they consider risk and resiliency.

Additional Resources

Further Information

The contact for this project is Kimberly Clark, SCAG Program Manager (clark@scag.ca.gov).