2008 Could be the Year Everything Changes: State Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Target Land-Use PolicyBy Susan Klipp on 29 December 2007 - 4:09pm
If California is truly going to reduce — in a meaningful way — its emission of the gases that contribute to global climate change, the state must change how it uses land.
That is the inescapable conclusion of virtually everyone who has analyzed the situation. But nearly every detail regarding how, when and who decides remains extremely uncertain at the start of 2008.
Has climate change lit a fire under California's professional planners, and if so, how much impact will they have on the climate change debate?
Steve Lawton is the community development director for the City of Hercules and active in the Congress for the New Urbanism. In this interview with CP&DR, Lawton discusses sustainable development, the limits of the suburban model, the difference between green building and green development, and more.
State bond money and local tax dollars are flowing into new school construction at record rates, and school officials are learning that a “green” campus is both better for students and teachers and is less expensive to operate.
Many things have improved in the past 30 years. Examples are the quality of digital cameras, the design of camping tents and the critical standing of comic books. Others have gotten worse, such as gasoline prices, the narrowing separation between church and state and the reputation of postmodern architecture. But - has sustainable planning gotten better or worse?
Marin County has adopted a new general plan that emphasizes “sustainable communities” and reflects a strong concern about global climate change. Although the Board of Supervisors adopted the Marin Countywide Plan only in November, there is already evidence the plan could serve as a model for other jurisdictions in California and across the country.
A roundup of green news: San Francisco may soon have the most stringent environmental building standards in the country; the state's "million solar roofs initiative" gets a slow start; new Oakland office tower would be among the tallest and greenest.
Green building strategies are being embraced by a growing number of local and state governments. In some cases, the trend is being driven by a desire to reduce water and electrical use in areas where those critical resources are in limited supply or costly to import. Some elected officials also seem motivated, however, by frustration over the Bush administration's foot-dragging in response to scientific warnings about global warming, and are determined to take steps on their own to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cities and counties cannot regulate tailpipe emissions or, for the most part, coal-burning power plants. They can, however, regulate land use and building design, and that's where they are focusing.
A federal law protecting religious institutions from land use regulations does not extend to a Masonic Temple operated for commercial purposes, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.
A federal judge has told Half Moon Bay to pay a property owner for making his property unbuildable; Placer County has sued a former planning commissioner for alleged Subdivision Map Act improprieties; government agencies are suing over a San Diego State expansion plan; Humboldt County has dropped proposed timber zoning resrictions; and more news about flood issues in Sacramento.