NEW IDEA FROM CALIF – CONTROL URBAN SPRAWL, CUT DRIVING EMISSIONS
California Senate Bill 375 is reportedly the first legislation in the U.S. to link government transportation funding with urban planning and emissions reduction.
The logic behind the legislation: In the fight against global climate change, new fuels and efficient vehicles are stop-gap measures. The ultimate solution is less driving. Less driving requires new communities, communities designed for lifestyles that don’t necessitate driving.
Tom Adams, board president, California League of Conservation Voters: "California made sprawl famous. The bill will turn the corner away from sprawl…"
The bill has won support from groups that are not typically allies: Home builders, environmentalists, advocates for affordable housing and local government officials. California State Senator Darrell Steinberg, the bill's author, calls it "the coalition of the impossible."
Senate Bill 375 requires that regional development plans be approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Approval makes the communities eligible for state and federal transportation grants and reduces other regulatory hurdles.
Approval is granted for community designs that put work, shopping, home and public transportation in relationships that eliminate commuting and excessive driving.
Initially, city governments were against the bill because it weakens their authority over land use. Homebuilders feared it would drive up prices. Both groups came around. Environmentalists say the streamlined regulatory process actually improves ecological protections.
Republicans have not come around. They say it is government telling people where and how they should live. The California Chamber of Commerce says it will impede growth.
Some California leaders think the state's citizens might have had enough of spending hours every day driving hundreds of miles burning $4/gallon gas. California Democratic State Senator Denise Ducheny: "This is not about mandating where people live, but it is about urging our cities and counties about being more thoughtful about where people live…"
Wall Street Journal: “Sacramento and its surrounding counties offer a glimpse at how the bill might affect regional development if it is implemented. In 2004, the area's regional-planning agency approved a voluntary growth plan that calls for more-compact development and increased public transportation. There are signs that the region is successfully curbing sprawl. The number of apartments and townhomes for sale has risen in the past four years, while the number of subdivisions with single-family homes in big lots dropped, housing data show.”
The bill was approved by the state legislature August 30. All it needs now is Governor Arnold’s signature. Will he sign? Should he?
Driving habits must change. (click to enlarge)
Calif. bill would tie land use to carbon emissions
Don Thompson (w/Tom Verdin), August 30, 2008 (AP via Yahoo News)
California Seeks to Curb Sprawl; Bill Links Funding For Development to Lower Emissions
Ana Campoy, September 2, 2008 (Wall Street Journal)
CA State Sen. Darrell Steinberg; CA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; GOP state Sen. Tom McClintock; state Sen. Denise Ducheny, a Democrat from San Diego
Senate Bill 375 requires local governments to plan their growth so that homes, businesses and public transit systems are situated to allow reduced driving and rewards cities and counties for such plans with increased access to grants and awards and improved permitting. Its goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs).
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- The bill passed the California Senate August 30.
- As of September 1, Governor Schwarzenegger had not indicated whether he would sign the bill.
- 2006: Passage of Governor Schwarzenegger’s GhG reductions bill passed by California legislature.
Senate Bill 375 requires the California Air Resources Board to work with local governments to set regional GhG targets and then use the targets to develop transportation plans for the state's 17 metropolitan regions.
- Passenger vehicles accounting for about 30% of California's GhGs.
- The goal is to help California meet the mandates of the 2006 GhG reduction law.
- It will likely reverse the famous California suburban sprawl.
- Transportation experts say the bill will be a model for state and national policy makers.
- A major concession to developers: Making it difficult for to stop projects with law suits.
- The bill assigns planning to regional authorities, bypassing local officials.
- The bill also streamlines the permitting process, eliminating environmental studies and other provisions.
- Environmentalists say the bill improves existing protection laws.
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- CA Democratic State Senator Steinberg: "[The legislation] allows California to grow, but in a way that is consistent with our environmental goals."
- CA State Senator Steinberg: "Gas prices certainly may have an impact on growth patterns, but I think that's only one piece of it…I'm not confident that the current state of gas prices alone will combat sprawl."
- CA Republican State Senator Tom McClintock: "[The legislation would force people to live in] a condo by the train tracks…[it is] bureaucratic central planning over individual freedom of choice."
- Ray Becker, chairman, California Building Industry Association: "Every stakeholder gave up some important sacred cows…"