Continuing Action – Apply Social Equity and Environmental Justice Considerations

SANDAG, through a Caltrans Strategic Partnership Grant, is collaborating with large and small MPOs and RTPAs in the state to develop a tool that can be used for conducting Social Equity Analyses for regional plans throughout the state of California.

Currently agencies use varied approaches when conducting a social equity analyses of regional plans such as RTPs and the SCSs required by SB 375. There is not a widely accepted tool used by regional and local agencies to model the burdens and benefits of regional plans and the projects they encompass to consistently evaluate environmental justice outcomes expected to result from a plan or project. This project calls for identification of best practices being used by regional agencies to analyze proposed plans and covered projects and development of a Social Equity Analysis Methodology (SEAM) and Social Equity Analysis Tool (SEAT) for statewide use.

A technical working group consisting of modelers and planners from a variety of sizes of MPOs and RTPAs has been convened to work with the consultant on determining a set of performances measures and methods of analysis that will provide a consistent, yet flexible tool for analyses. The project envisions several tiers of effort. The Project will use a “tiered” approach for developing the SEAM encompassing different levels of topical coverage, analysis sophistication, and data needs. The three tiers are:

  • Tier One includes methods, likely focused on up to five core performance measures, that can be carried out by all California MPOs and RTPAs with existing data and resources;
  • Tier Two includes additional methods and measures that may be within the existing capabilities of larger MPOs, and that can be adopted by medium and small MPOs with modest expansion of existing capabilities and resources; and
  • Tier Three includes forward looking methods and measures for conducting social equity analyses encompassing topics such as health and housing.

Due to the size of the grant, the SEAT that is developed will only be capable of modeling Tier One and Tier Two methods. It should be noted that the tool is not intended for use in modeling currently impacted communities since tools such as Cal EnviroScreen already exist for this. Rather, the SEAT is concentrated on forecasting future outcomes for social equity focus populations resulting from implementation of long term transportation plans. The project is underway and planned for completion by fall of 2017.