Three local government organizations and three conservation groups have asked Gov. Schwarzenegger to work with them and other stakeholders on developing a comprehensive statewide growth strategy.

The September 1 request came from the California State Association of Counties, California Special Districts Association, California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions, American Farmland Trust, Endangered Habitats League and Sierra Club.

“As you and those within your administration have acknowledged, the current situation — in which housing prices are increasingly out of reach for the average family, inefficient land use patterns are gobbling up farmland and habitat, traffic congestion and air pollution are worsening, cities, counties and special districts cannot afford public services and infrastructure improvements, and the disadvantaged cannot find places to live near job opportunities — simply cannot continue,” the letter states.

Not coincidentally, the CSAC coalition is composed of interest groups that have not been directly involved in the talks between the League of California Cities and the California Building Industry Association regarding housing development.

The coalition made five recommendations to the governor:
• Implement AB 857, a 2002 law that requires the state to make planning and capital spending decisions that encourage infill development, protect environmental and agricultural resources, and encourage efficient development patterns.
• Work with the Legislature, and regional and state governments on budget and tax reforms “to break the barriers standing in the way of smarter growth patterns.”
• “Establish a bipartisan working group to develop specific legislative, budget and policy changes to achieve efficient growth and prosperity outcomes.”
• “Support additional funding for planning, infrastructure, housing, public services, and agricultural and habitat land conservation.”
• Establish pilot projects to build housing, improve transportation choices and “encourage cooperation between communities and developers.”

The same coalition, with the addition of the California Farm Bureau Federation, also sent a letter to Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman asking for full implementation of AB 857. “The state has not really made any effort to implement that legislation,” CSAC lobbyist DeAnn Baker said.

The coalition wants to create a single effort to address land use and related fiscal issues, Baker explained. There have been so many scattered efforts and proposals recently that it has been difficult simply to track all of the discussions, she said.

As of late September, the CSAC coalition had not received a response.