Out of Control Policy Blog

CA: Road to Serfdom meets Atlas Shrugged

The California Senate passed SB 375, and Gov. Arnold Shwarzennegger is likely to sign, sweeping legislation designed to overhaul the state's land use and transportation plannning system to meet the state's goal of reducing greenhouse gasses 30% by 2020. The bill ties new housing development to specific objectives and goals designed to reduce driving across the board. In short, individual decisions about where they live and how they travel have been ceded to regional planning authorities with the explicit task of narrowing the choices available to them.

According to the California Progress Report:

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

This is a classic example of how the "devil is in the details" when it comes to climate change policy. At long last, environmentalists opposed to housing and travel choice have found the vehicle they needed to "stop sprawl".

My take on this issue can be found in a commentary posted last week.

The New York Times article on the bill can be found here.

The Wall Street Journal's coverage can be found here.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow

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