Governor Signs Steinberg's Landmark Climate Change/Land Use Bill

September 30, 2008

(SACRAMENTO) - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed into law SB 375, Sen. Darrell Steinberg's (D-Sacramento) landmark, first-in-the-nation bill to link greenhouse gas reduction to transportation and housing planning.

"Once again, the Governor brands California as the international leader in combating greenhouse gas emissions." Steinberg said. "SB 375 will be used as the national framework for fighting sprawl and transforming inevitable growth into smart growth. This is a historic day for California."

SB 375 marks the first time major environmental organizations, local governments, major homebuilders and affordable housing advocates have agreed on a plan to account for California's population growth and achieve AB 32 greenhouse gas emission reduction goals at the same time.

The bill was supported by California League of Conservation Voters (co-sponsor), the Natural Resources Defense Council (co-sponsor), the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties, the California Building Industry Association, the California Major Builders Council, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Housing California and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation among others.

In 2006, the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, AB 32, which mandates that California reduce its greenhouse gas levels to 1990 levels by 2020. Because cars and light trucks emit about 30 percent of greenhouse gasses in California, reducing the time that commuters spend in their cars through smart, coordinated transportation and housing planning is essential to meeting the requirements of AB 32.

SB 375 offers local governments regulatory and other incentives to encourage more compact new development and transportation alternatives. The basics of the bill are as follows:

• Transportation planning: The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will set regional greenhouse gas reduction targets after consultation with local governments. That target must be incorporated within that region's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), the long-term blueprint of a region's transportation system. The resulting model will be called the Sustainable Communities Strategy.

• Housing planning: Each region's Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) - the state mandated process for local jurisdictions to address their fair share of regional housing needs - will be adjusted to become aligned with the land use plan in that region's Sustainable Communities Strategy in its RTP (which will account for greenhouse gas reduction targets).

• CEQA reform: Environmental review will create incentives to implement the strategy, especially transit priority projects.