NRDC/Move L.A. Push Governor on Smart Growth Bill, Praise Regional Plans

Over the last year, three large regional transportation authorities have passed regional transportation plans that tie together transportation, land use, greenhouse gas emissions and public health mandated by S.B. 375 in 2008. Today, a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Move L.A. praises the Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego regional planning areas for passing these plans and promotes legislation that could make future plans even better.

Click on the image to see the full report.

Despite the passage of the first regional plans and the continued enthusiasm of S.B. 375, NRDC isn’t happy with the current state of plan. “…a plan is not enough,” writes Amanda Eaken at the NRDC Switchboard. “From the very beginning, we knew that we needed to bring new resources to these communities if we wanted to see the real change SB 375 envisions.”

As Streetsblog has discussed in the past, the new regional plans in San Diego and Los Angeles have significant drawbacks. In San Diego, local advocates filed suit against the plan arguing that transit, walkability and bicycling projects are pushed to the end of the thirty year plan so that highway projects can be funded earlier. They were joined in their lawsuit by State Attorney General Kamala Harris. In the Greater Los Angeles region, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health estimates a $40 billion need for bicycles and pedestrian projects. The plan allocates less than 3% of that need.

However, the authors have a solution: Governor Brown needs to sign Senate Bill 1156.

SB 1156 gives local governments a way to finance the projects and plans mandated by S.B. 375, save Californians money and help stop global warming. For example, projects within a “transit priority area” that received different benefits, approvals and government funds would have to be within a half-mile of a transit stop. It also would continue the requirement that cities spend 20 percent of subsidies for development projects for low- and moderate-income housing.

S.B. 1156 is authored by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the same Senator who authored 2008′s S.B. 375. It has already passed both the Senate and Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.

“When Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, we knew the law had the potential to significantly improve the California way of life,” explains Steinberg in a statement. “Four years later, the first round of regional plans have strongly embraced this vision. Governor Brown can help to ensure that California communities pivot permanently in the direction of sustainability by signing SB 1156, to give local governments the tools they need to implement these great plans.”

Streetsblog will provide updates when the Governor acts on the legislation.