Arnold has been making some rather shocking vetoes of important legislation this week, including a cave-in to Sarah Palin on port air quality and the veto of the anti-rescission bill. On balance his record on bills this week is atrocious.
But there are a few bright spots, including a bill that has the potential to revolutionize land use in California. Arnold has signed Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s SB 375, a bill that links land-use planning to the AB 32 global warming targets. The intent is to eliminate sprawl by limiting sprawl and favoring infill development.
The logic is clear – sprawl creates more auto traffic, and more auto emissions, which worsens global warming. 38% of greenhouse gas emissions in California come from transportation. The obvious solution is to crack down on sprawl and encourage infill development – urban density served by mass transit. SB 375 includes language streamlining CEQA review for infill development that meets carbon emissions reduction goals.
That’s an important element of an anti-sprawl, anti-global warming effort. It’s the Portland model – you can’t stop sprawl merely by limiting growth on the edge of a metro area. You must also encourage infill, dense development and provide the mass transit to serve it.
It’s also vital to California’s economic recovery. As I have argued before, we must redefine the California Dream by using urban density to provide for affordable living and economic security.
There are still some outstanding issues regarding SB 375 – business groups were lobbying to have urban commercial projects given the same CEQA streamlining as residential projects. According to the Sacramento Bee:
“Some business groups remained critical because the bill did not allow commercial development to benefit from CEQA changes. And some local officials said it overreached by allowing the state to dictate greenhouse-gas reduction goals for each region.
“Steinberg said he promised the governor that next year he will clarify that projects funded by the 2006 voter-approved transportation bonds will be exempt. But Steinberg said he agreed only to have “good-faith” discussions about the commercial development issue.
“”The balance we struck was so precarious, we couldn’t pile anything more on top of the bill,” Steinberg said.”
California cannot afford sprawl. SB 375 is a big step forward in our efforts to redefine the California Dream and follow Portland’s successful model into a prosperous 21st century future.
Robert Cruickshank is a historian, activist, and teacher living in Monterey. He is a contributing editor at Calitics.com and works for the Courage Campaign, in addition to teaching political science at Monterey Peninsula College. Currently he is completing his Ph.D. dissertation in US history, on progressive politics in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s. A native Californian, he was raised in Orange County and educated at UC Berkeley.