On August 9, 2010, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued its long-awaited draft report implementing SB 375. Passed in 2008 (and recently favorably reviewed by the Urban Land Institute), SB 375 requires targeted reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 2035 throughout the State. The targets link climate change concerns to reductions in single-occupancy vehicle usage to new housing development and funding of transportation projects through coordinated regional and local planning, an ambitious effort without precedent here or elsewhere.
Under CARB’s plan, the State’s four largest urban areas – Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento – must reduce GHG emissions by 7 to 8 % per capita by 2020 and between 13 and 16 % by 2035. CARB projects California’s population will be 44 million people by 2020 and 51 million by 2035. Despite these daunting projections, according to CARB: “The goal is for people to live close to where they work and play to reduce vehicle miles traveled and the greenhouse gas emissions that come from cars.”
The reported benefits are wide-ranging: increased mobility and transportation choices; reduced congestion; greater housing choices; improved public health as a result of better air and water quality; natural resource conservation; economic benefits such as opportunities for neighborhood economic development and lower costs for community infrastructure; reduced dependence on foreign oil; and greater equity through the provision of improved access to jobs, housing and everyday needs.
Establishment of emission reduction targets is the first significant step in the implementation of SB 375. The governing board of CARB will consider adoption of the targets at its September 22 meeting. Time will tell whether the goal of reduced urban sprawl and a more livable California can be achieved.