San Bernardino County has agreed to deal with greenhouse gas reduction in its general plan as part of a settlement agreement in a high-profile lawsuit filed by the state attorney general's office.

The settlement requires the county to:

• Adopt a general plan policy within 30 months that outlines ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributable to discretionary land use decisions.

• Prepare a greenhouse gas reduction plan that includes an inventory of greenhouse gas emission levels as of 1990, present day and as projected through 2020, as well as reduction targets and mitigation measures.

The settlement requires the attorney general to:

• Help the county recoup the estimated $500,000 needed to comply with the agreement.

• Provide the county with early comment and consultation to avoid future greenhouse gas lawsuits.

• Assist with defense of any legal challenges to the county's greenhouse gas reduction plan.  

Attorney General Jerry Brown called the settlement a "landmark agreement" and "a model that I encourage other cities and counties to adopt." San Bernardino County officials said they were pleased to keep the general plan in place as adopted while the county works on the greenhouse gas measures.

The litigation was the first of its kind filed by the state over a general plan's impact on global warming (see CP&DR, July 2007). A lawsuit filed by environmentalists over the plan remains pending.

The attorney general lists as feasible mitigation measures:

• High-density development that reduces vehicle trips,
• Impact fees on development to fund public transit
• Construction of regional transit centers
• Designated parking spaces for carpools and overall parking limits.
• Convenient electric vehicle charging stations
The complete agreement as well as spin from either side is available on the attorney general's website and the county's website.