SB 375 would link land use planning and transportation
by Celia Scott
Potential landmark legislation to implement the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) is now pending in the California Assembly Appropriations Committee, following passage by the Senate in 2007. (Senator Simitian voted yes, Senator Maldonado voted no.)
SB 375, introduced by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), is a significant effort to integrate land use planning and transportation in an effort to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This bill is a priority for the Sierra Club and is supported by the California League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Lung Association, the Planning and Conservation League, and numerous other environmental and public interest groups. It is opposed by the League of California Cities, groups representing contractors, developers, and a variety of other business and local government interests. Recently, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission voted to instruct its staff to work toward exempting any possible transportation tax measure from the provisions of SB 375.
According to the billÕs author, Senator Steinberg, "Current planning models used for transportation decisions and air quality planning must be improved to assess policy choices....[by] encouraging more compact development patterns, expanding transit service, creating walkable communities, and providing incentives. It is also necessary to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions from changed land use patterns and improved transportation to meet AB 32 standards."
Currently, SB 375 requires the State Air Resources Board to provide by January 1, 2009, regional greenhouse gas reduction targets for automobiles and light trucks for the years 2020 and 2035, with regional updates until 2050. In addition, specified regional planning and transportation agencies would be required to prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" in order to achieve these targets through alternative development patterns or additional transportation measures. Other provisions would affect the environmental review process for specified projects.
SB 375 is lengthy and complex. It has already been significantly amended in the Senate, and is certain to spark strong debate in the Assembly. Some observers have called SB 375 the top environmental priority for the coming legislative session, as a critical component of the California effort to reduce global warming. At press time no hearing dates had been set for SB 375.
To keep informed, call the office of John Laird, our local representative in the Assembly and chair of the Assembly Budget Committee (see p. 3) or go online at www.leginfo.ca.gov for the legislative history and updates.
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