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CARB Report Sets Goals for Sustainable Communities

The California Air Resources Board released a draft report  on Monday that proposes ambitious targets for land use and transportation planning in 2020 and 2035 to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with passenger vehicle travel.

The report divides the state into 18 “Metropolitan Planning Organizations,” including the four largest: Southern California, San Diego, the Bay Area, and the Sacramento region. Another eight organizations comprise the San Joaquin Valley, with the six remaining organizations representing the Central Coast and mountain regions of California.

The proposed greenhouse gas reduction targets  are designed to help produce sustainable strategies for growth and development for cities and regions over the next twenty-five years. CARB’s goal is for people to live close to where they work and play to reduce vehicle travel and the greenhouse gas emissions that come from cars.

The report is the first major milestone in implementation of SB 375, a law enacted in 2008 to improve how cities and counties plan for growth and development.

Once the targets are finalized, cities within each planning region will be required to work together with their regional planning agency on developing a “Sustainable Community Strategy” that outlines where growth and development will occur, and how the transportation system can support that growth, so that the region’s emissions reduction targets can be achieved.

The proposals and goals in the report are the result of 13 public meetings of the Regional Targets Advisory Committee and collaboration between CARB and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations that will eventually develop regional plans.

According to CARB, the targets were developed to reflect demographic shifts and a changing housing market in California as baby-boomers and many young people are moving away from single-family suburban homes to smaller lots and multi-unit housing closer to a city’s center.

The targets proposed for the four main regions recognize the significant differences among the regions and address specific needs and requirements for growth and development in each. The report outlines proposed targets of per capita greenhouse gas reductions of 7 to 8 percent by 2020, and between 13 and 16 percent in 2035 compared to 2005 levels.

The eight planning organizations that comprise the San Joaquin Valley proposed targets of a 5 percent reduction in per capita emissions in 2020, and a 10 percent reduction in 2035. Targets for the remaining six Metropolitan Planning Organizations—the Monterey, Butte, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta, and Lake Tahoe regions will be finalized in 2014,

The Air Resources Board will consider adopting these targets at its September board hearing.

Regions that meet the targets will receive incentives in the form of easier access to federal funding and streamlined environmental review for development projects.

Elyse Lowe, executive director of Move San Diego, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that obtaining federal funding will have a profound effect on the implementation SB375 in the San Diego region.

Lowe said San Diego County is on track to be the first region in the state to meet its SB 375 planning goals.

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