“Locals” Continue Attack on S.B. 375 “Sprawl Bill”

5_28_09_sprawl.jpgPhoto of Riverside via Miizzard/Flickr.

In what could seem a companion piece to either this morning's Streetsblog.net post or last week's interview with Michael Woo, the California Planning & Development Report outlines some of the excuses local planners are using to attack S.B. 375, the legislation that requires land-use patterns be used to fight sprawl. 

Last week, Woo broke down the arguments local planners and elected officials are using to try and opt out of this mandatory legislation:

One source of opposition was local elected officials who questioned whether climate change was a real problem or questioned whether what they do has any impact on climate change.  So there’s still a certain amount of foot dragging going on with local officials who don’t think it’s a problem or think it’s someone else’s problem.

Today, CP&DR allows officials from Los Angeles and Sprawl-Centric San Bernadino to elaborate:

Schuiling challenged the idea that land use changes are required to meet the state’s GHG reduction goals because the goal cannot be met by making cleaner vehicles, as the California Air Resources Board has suggested. “That is simply not true,” Schuiling said.

Schuiling pulled out what he clearly regards as a “smoking gun” on the GHG issue – a letter from the South Coast Air Quality Management District claiming that zero-emission vehicles still must be the weapon of choice against GHGs.

In rebuttal, I don't think anyone's arguing that cleaner cars aren't part of the solution, perhaps the largest part of the solution, but to basically imply that is the only tool in the box is so California.  I'm not sure how anyone arguing that reducing the number of cars on the road won't reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions can even be viewed as sensical, unless they're so in love with sprawl development, or their SUV, that they can't see past their own carbon pollution.

Sadly, the executive director for our own Southern California Association of Governments also can't see the link between sprawl development and Greenhouse Gas.  But at least he gets that "sprawl is bad" to put it mildly.

A similar but more subtle argument came from Hasan Ikhrata, the executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, which is charged with implementing SB 375 in the Los Angeles region. Speaking on the same panel as Schuiling, Ikhrata said: “I don’t think 375 should be thought of as a global warming bill. I don’t think it’s the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions. … When I speak about 375 I speak about a land use bill, an urban form bill.”

This was substantially the same point Ikhrata made a couple of weeks ago at the SCAG General Assembly in La Quinta, when he rolled out SCAG’s “conceptual land use plan”. Ikhrata did not deny that SCAG and the region’s local governments should pursue a more efficient urban form, but, rather, argued that policymakers should rely less on the idea that climate change is the reason for doing so.

It looks like we still have a long way to go, but maybe someone at S.C.A.G. should forward this morning's Streetsblog.net story to the executive director.