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L.A. Seeks $2 Million For Sustainable Projects

Braden Holly |
September 23, 2010 | 8:59 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Alleys in South L.A. could become trails if the City of L.A. earns a grant to plan such a project. (Creative Commons)
Alleys in South L.A. could become trails if the City of L.A. earns a grant to plan such a project. (Creative Commons)
The City of L.A. recently applied for grants that could provide as much as $2 million to plan how to improve transit hubs throughout the city and how to create trails in South L.A.

As many as 180 California communities applied for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program by the Aug. 31 deadline. The program is managed by the Strategic Growth Council (SGC), a committee created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 to manage state agencies as part of an attempt to improve sustainability and quality of life in California. 

The grant program currently has over $66 million that the SGC is planning to distribute evenly during the course of three funding cycles. Individual grants can range from $100,000 to $1 million, and of the 180 applicants, perhaps as few as 50 will receive funding, says SGC's executive policy officer Heather Fargo.

What makes this grant so special is the word “planning.” Most grants require those seeking funding to have fully formed plans.   However, in this case the funds are actually for the planning itself. 

To have for an application approved, the applying community must prove that their project would improve air and water quality, promote public health, increase housing affordability or strengthen the economy and generally improve infrastructure.  The applicants must also demonstrate their ability to complete their proposal on schedule and on budget.

One of L.A.'s requests is for $1 million for the community of South L.A. The proposal is to convert alleys into a trail system to improve accessibility and promote urban greening, said Simon Pastucha, a city planner that helped write the application. 

L.A. also applied in conjunction with the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for another $1 million and hopes to improve growth and sustainability near transit hubs.  Projects developed with funding from the grant could make transit hubs more accessible to bike and foot traffic, something that would reduce emissions, reduce the amount of land needed for parking, and hopefully attract development that would improve the local economy, says Pastucha.

If the city were to get the two grants, it would use the money to hire planning consultants. The plan they develop would then be used to apply for other state and federal funding to complete the project.

The money for the grant program is supplied by Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006.

Applicants will be notified about grant awards in early November. Pastucha said L.A. is hoping to receive all of the $2 million it is seeking.

To reach reporter Braden Holly, click here.

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