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California Strategic Growth Council Revising Guidelines for Cap-and-Trade Grants

California recently awarded more than $1.2 million in cap-and-trade revenue to projects that not only reduce GHG emissions, but also promote affordable housing or transit options.
August 27, 2015, 10am PDT | Elana Eden
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The first Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grants were distributed in July by the California Strategic Growth Council, a committee of top state officials and public appointees charged with promoting sustainable land-use planning. AHSC received an appropriation of $130 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in last year's budget, and the SGC quickly organized a system for selecting projects with social and environmental co-benefits. Overall, AHSC invested $92 million in disadvantaged communities throughout the state, including providing funds to build 2,000 affordable housing units near transit.

Now the council is pausing to reflect on the first year of the program, and to refine its scoring system in time for next year's awards.

Going forward, the AHSC will receive 20 percent of cap-and-trade auction proceeds annually. Revenue from the auction program is growing dramatically, and SGC Chair Ken Alex told The Planning Report he anticipates handing out significantly more grant money in round two.

To prepare, the SGC reviewed lessons learned from the first round of funding and began revising application guidelines for a growing pool of applicants. Alex, who is also director of the California Office of Planning and Research, and Gail Goldberg, executive director of the Urban Land Institute-Los Angeles, spoke to The Planning Report about selecting metrics that align with the goals of the program, which in turn derive from policy objectives laid out in legislation governing cap-and-trade.

Goldberg notes that the council reaches out to potential applicants for input on strengthening the program:

"One thing of interest to me is a growing collaboration between the SGC and folks applying for the money in the non-profit, transportation, and development sectors. We have tried to create a very transparent process, and we are learning much from the folks who have applied for the loans and grants."

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Published on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 in The Planning Report
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