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SB 375 Puts California In The Lead; Now What?

Feb 4, 2009
A couple weeks ago, one local government official said she was getting tired of hearing about SB 375. Couldn't you write about something else, she politely asked?

Yes, we could and will write about other subjects. But love it or hate it, SB 375 shifted the ground underneath planners' feet, and the true slipping and sliding is only now beginning. We're going to be writing about it for a very long time.

While many of us in California are immersed in the details of SB 375's regional mandates for reduced greenhouse gas emissions via more efficient land use patterns, planners elsewhere are only beginning to learn about the issues. In the February edition of Planning magazine, I present SB 375 to a national audience. As I prepared to write that story, the point was made repeatedly to me that California is well ahead of every other state in linking land use planning and climate change mitigation. It's quite a change from the past 25-plus years, when California fell behind Oregon, Washington, Florida, Maryland and other states in planning innovation.

"The premise that California is actually ahead of the country on this is correct," Armando Carbonell, chairman of the Lincoln Institute's Department of Planning and Urban Form, told me. Other states and regions, as well as Canadian provinces, are starting to put together climate action plans, but they remain mostly at the conceptual level, according to Carbonell. Meanwhile, California's big three AB 32, SB 97 and SB 375 have created a system (or at least an outline of a system) for taking real action on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

My story for Planning is now available online. (Sorry, the story is available only to APA members.)

Meanwhile, occasional CP&DR blogger Joel Ellinwood has posted on his website a lengthy piece he wrote for California Real Property Journal on SB 375. The piece is part legal backgrounder, part policy analysis and part implementation guide.

Ellinwood observes, "State government will have great difficulty meeting AB 32 GHG reduction goals without finding ways to influence and enable local governments to exercise their land use powers so that more people drive less, and make both existing and newly developed buildings and neighborhoods more efficient. For reasons discussed below, this approach may not come easily to single-issue state regulatory agencies like CARB."

Of course, CARB is the state Air Resources Board. If you'd like to read the "reasons discussed below," click on over to Joel's website.

And don't forget our SB 375 page, which has links to numerous news stories, blog entries and analyses.

Paul Shigley