Flexibility and Climate Alignment in California Transportation Funding

Report coverOctober 2021
Assembly Bill 285 (Friedman, 2019) directed the Strategic Growth Council to develop a report on the California Transportation Plan (a roadmap for state transportation investment and planning through 2050), state and local funding sources, and opportunities to align state goals. CLEE joined with researchers at UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), UC Davis ITS, and UCLA ITS to prepare a series of white papers on select California transportation funding and planning topics to provide an evidentiary basis for the SGC report.

CLEE’s white paper, Flexibility in California Transportation Funding Programs and Implications for More Climate-Aligned Spending, examines key features of the legislative authority for transportation planning and finance in California, including local option sales taxes for transportation, and assesses the amount of flexibility that current laws and practices allow for reprioritizing projects as problems and priorities change. The report seeks to answer questions including the nature of limitations on spending flexibility in state and local funding programs; the role of CEQA review in transportation funding programs; and the potential to reallocate funding or modify prior commitments to better address climate-related goals. Key findings include:

  • State law affords local governments the authority to craft fairly flexible transportation spending measures, in particular through categorical or priority-based approaches and built-in processes for agency adaptation to new circumstances
  • CEQA does not typically require agencies to undertake new review based on post-certification analysis or policy changes, but agencies will typically need to undergo supplemental or subsequent CEQA review to make proactive changes to an investment plan
  • Political barriers to overcoming flexibility in local projects and sales tax measures might be more challenging than legal barriers
You can download the full report here.
The summary report and other white papers are available below.


Contact Katie Segal, Ethan Elkind or Ted Lamm for more information.