Legislative Principles


Regional agencies serve as a forum to create regional solutions for area wide needs, develop plans and strategies for a broad range issues, to strengthen and assist local governments, and advocate for locals at the state and federal levels.  CALCOG represents the collective interest of California’s regional governments at the state and federal level as directed by its Board of Directors.  CALCOG has developed the following policy principles to serve as the foundation for policy advocacy and communications in order to best represent our diverse membership.

I.   Regional Governance

CALCOG promotes effective regional governance.  Effective regional government is an essential element of the principle of local control.  Many problems and issues transcend local boundaries.  State and federal policy should support effective regional governance in order to allow regional policies that will address local and regional problems more effectively than a one-size-fits-all state approach.  CALCOG:

  • Supports a “bottoms-up” approach to regional governance that respects local authority and assures regional flexibility.
  • Supports legislative and administrative measures that authorize local agencies to act collaboratively to achieve regional goals.
  • Supports efforts to protect and expand the authority of regional agencies to program funding and set other regional priorities.
  • Supports efforts to protect and increase direct funding to regions through both federal and state programs, especially when state and federal law mandate new duties and responsibilities.
  • Opposes cost shifts and unfunded mandates in the responsibility areas of regional governments.
  • Believes new state programs that affect regional responsibilities should be consistent with existing standards and requirements; encourage laws that require different state agencies to coordinate policies and reconcile differences before they are implemented.
  • Supports appropriate performance measures developed and implemented cooperatively between federal, state, regional, and local agencies.
  • Supports appropriate funding to regional agencies to match new state and federal requirements for enhanced planning, delivery, and performance review.
  • Encourages regional or, if necessary, a mega-regional approach to selecting projects that will allow better targeting of state priorities to regional needs and improve the geographic fairness of the overall program.

II.      Transportation Policy

State and federal law require regional agencies to play an integral role in planning, funding, and managing transportation systems.  Regional agencies plan, fund, and manage local transportation systems. Transportation plans are designed to meet the needs of the region while achieving federal and state requirements. Regions work directly with local elected officials, stakeholders, and the public to incorporate their input. Successful implementation requires adequate resources for safety measures, system preservation, air quality, GHG emission reductions, air quality, mode choice, congestion management, safety, air quality, and other elements included in regional planning and programming responsibilities.

A.  Planning and Programming

CALCOG supports measures that authorize and improve the capacity of regional agencies to deliver plans and program projects that meet the needs of their member cities and counties.

  • Reinforce and build upon the structure of SB 45 that provides regions a strong voice in the programming of regional projects.
  • Ensure local and regional agencies (including COGs, MPOs, RTPAs, CMAs and Transportation Commissions) receive sufficient funding to fulfill their planning and programming obligations. These activities include planning, data gathering and analysis, environmental review, and public engagement.
  • Support open collaboration, data sharing, and funding to successfully implement federal and state performance-based planning and management requirements.
  • Ensure that other state plans and programs remain consistent with the goals and structure of regional transportation plans.
  • Support a robust transportation research program at the federal and state levels to investigate and use new technology, data and methods of data collection, innovative materials, and other improvements that could be incorporated into regional plans and project delivery programs.
  • Support efforts that require or encourage transportation providers to share data in a way that respects privacy but allows policy makers to make more informed decisions about current use and future trends in travel and community development.
  • Since regional transportation plans must be adopted every four or five years, support efforts to streamline CEQA or exempt elements or assumptions within these plans that are slated to occur in the later periods of the twenty-or thirty-year planning period. Such impacts can be appropriately reviewed in subsequent regional transportation plans if they materialize.

B.  Transportation Finance 

CALCOG supports dedicated, robust, and formula-based funding for California’s transportation system. Local agencies provide a substantial amount of all transportation investment in the state. SB 1 did not address the entire need to maintain the current system in a state of good repair.  And any gain in state funding is offset to some extent by ongoing risks to the solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund.  Federal and state governments must increase existing funding to maintain and improve the state and local systems.

  • Provide and protect additional, reliable, and sufficient transportation funding when there is an established need. All new revenues should keep pace with inflation.
  • Support the exploration of a Road User Charge to replace the gasoline tax.
  • Provide additional dedicated revenue source for regional and local governments to support the implementation of SB 375.
  • Expand innovative financing and project delivery options to facilitate creative solutions for project funding.
  • Support legislation that lowers the voter threshold required to pass transportation infrastructure initiatives to 55 percent; and support legislation that allows a county to create a sales tax district within its boundary with a two-thirds vote of that district.
  • Maintain and improve efforts to include measurable performance targets in the State Highway Performance Plan with regular reporting requirements.

On issues related to federal funding, like a re-authorization act, CALCOG shall seek to partner with—and facilitate if necessary– other state interests to develop a unified set of principles to present to Legislators in Washington D.C. so that California may have the strongest voice possible.

C.  Transportation Programs

CALCOG supports federal and state transportation programs that encourage innovative solutions for the movement of people and goods, while protecting the environment.

  • Support measures to improve opportunities for businesses and citizens to easily access goods, jobs, services, and housing.
  • Increase direct funding and sub allocation of resources to regional agencies.
  • Support Transportation Demand Management strategies that can reduce single person vehicle use.
  • Support measures that provide for sharing of anonymized data from ridesharing services and other sources that will allow for more informed planning and decision-making.
  • Support further expansion of Transportation Network Companies and the deployment of autonomous vehicles that can support achievement of regional and local goals; but scrutinize policies to assure that they will be helpful, not harmful, to regional goals.
  • Support “complete street” policies that are designed to accommodate all users, including cars, trucks, transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
  • Protect and increase funding for the operation and expansion of transit and intercity and passenger rail service.
  • Provide environmental review exemptions for specific repairs, safety projects, and transportation projects within existing public rights of way that directly further state policy priorities, regardless of the size of the lead agency.
  • Encourage and support effective implementation of “advanced mitigation” environmental programs.
  • Support the permanent assignment of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities to California align timelines of the assignment to be more consistent with California Environmental Quality Act and make the waiver of sovereign immunity permanent for such assignment.
  • Authorize Caltrans and its partners to use alternative procurement methods permanently and without limits.
  • Require early engagement of state resource agencies in the CEQA process for transportation projects to reduce permit processing time and require reasonable deadlines for permit approvals.

III.    Sustainable Development and Infrastructure

CALCOG supports appropriate responses to address the systemic under-funding of urban, and rural infrastructure. This means finding new sources of funding as well as making the most efficient use of current funding sources.

  • Support measures that propose to fairly invest and rebuild infrastructure in areas identified for growth in a regional transportation plan, including the reinstatement of a redevelopment program that is supported by cities and counties.
  • Support funding for capital and operational investments to support effective, location efficient transit that will reduce the region’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Streamline and improve transportation project delivery processes to eliminate unnecessary requirements; support concurrent state and federal environmental review, including developing a reciprocity program to allow state environmental reviews to count toward the federal process.
  • Expand innovative methods of project management and delivery, such as design-build, that can help complete projects in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
  • Generally, amend CEQA to better account for positive environmental impacts of transportation and smart land use projects.

IV.   Cap and Trade

CALCOG supports the investment of Cap and Trade funds in a way that will efficiently reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.

  • Dedicate the allocation revenues related to fuels to investments that reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Maximize the investment revenues to implement SB 375 and other regional strategies to reduce GHGs, including funding for transit, active transportation, and complete streets infrastructure. Investments should favor integrated transportation and land use strategies.
  • Invest funds in a manner consistent with sustainable community strategies. In regions where SB 375 does not apply, other measurable emission reduction strategies should be consistent with regional transportation plans.
  • Allocate transportation funds regionally by population, recognizing that different strategies are needed to achieve an optimum mix of GHG reductions and co-benefits in different areas of the state. Individual project-funding determinations should be awarded through a competitive regional process that is consistent with statewide criteria and enforcement.
  • Provide funding for the development of modeling and measurement tools to improve performance measures to better evaluate and predict GHG reductions.
  • State funding should encourage innovative projects. Grant criteria should allow time for transportation projects to be programmed instead of focusing on more project readiness.
  • Support criteria that recognize the unique public nature of transportation programming and infrastructure funding.
  • Funding should be awarded to projects that get the most GHG reductions per dollar invested.
  • The state should have accurate models that fairly account for conditions in all regions.

VI.     Housing

CALCOG supports effective housing policies.  Many COGs are tasked with setting the Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Regional governments also account for future of housing growth and development in regional transportation plans. Linking land use, housing, and transportation decisions is good policy and integral to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Regions work closely with their local agencies to forecast land use development, including housing needs, growth, and the relationship to the transportation network.

  • Work with local government partners to amend housing element law (and related administrative procedures) to give jurisdictions flexibility to provide affordable housing and remove disincentives and regulatory obstacles to providing affordable housing.
  • Seek funding to reimburse COGs for Regional Housing Needs Allocation compliance costs.
  • To emphasize the connections between housing and transportation in regional transportation plans, support voluntary programs that would authorize regional agencies to award a percentage of state funds (in lieu of state selection) to location-efficient housing projects that support the objectives of regional transportation plans and are supported by local governments.
  • Support incentives for jurisdictions that provide opportunities for more housing, including affordable and transit-oriented developments (TODs) and encourage the siting of these developments near areas with transportation resources and future planned investments.
  • Work with our local government partners to support approaches to funding affordable housing.

VII.    Economic and Community Development

CALCOG supports efforts to encourage economic and community development.  Regional governments work with their member cities and counties to encourage job growth.  With the dissolution of redevelopment, cities and counties are looking for new tools to continue to revitalize their communities and regions support these goals.

  • Support funding for the planning and development of infrastructure that results in the creation and retention of jobs, including transportation, housing and technology deployment.
  • Encourage the location of job centers and housing be consistent with regional transportation plans.
  • Support the use of innovative financing, such as Infrastructure Financing Districts, and mitigation programs, such as advance mitigation, to help plan and develop areas to attract and retain businesses.
  • Support policies and funding to increase deployment of technology infrastructure, such as broadband, to support economic and community development