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California to Disincentivize Sprawl--If We're Lucky

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  • Richard Risemberg
    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-me- sprawl21-2008aug21,0,7950716.story From the Los Angeles Times Legislature takes aim at urban sprawl and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 21, 2008
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      From the Los Angeles Times
      Legislature takes aim at urban sprawl and global warming

      A bill calling for financial incentives to target greenhouse gases
      would be the first in the nation.
      By Margot Roosevelt
      Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

      August 21, 2008

      Will Californians drive less to reduce global warming? Maybe not on
      our own -- but state officials are ready to nudge us.

      The Legislature is on the verge of adopting the nation's first law to
      control planet-warming gases by curbing sprawl. The bill, sponsored
      by incoming state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), is
      expected to pass the Assembly today and the Senate on Friday.

      Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill, but
      sponsors expect him to sign it once the state passes a budget.

      The legislation, SB 375, would offer incentives to steer public funds
      away from sprawled development. The state spends about $20 billion a
      year on transportation, and under the new law, projects that meet
      climate goals would get priority.

      An earlier version of the bill was blocked last year by the building
      industry and by organizations representing cities and counties.
      Developers feared their suburban projects would be delayed or halted.
      Local officials were wary of ceding zoning powers and transportation
      planning to the state.

      But momentum for the legislation has grown as the state seeks to
      implement its landmark 2006 global warming law, which would slash
      California's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a 30%
      cut from expected emissions. To accomplish that, state officials say,
      fuel-efficient cars and factories won't be enough. Subdivisions,
      commercial centers and highways must be planned so that Californians
      can live and work closer together, reducing the amount they drive.

      "Our communities must change the way they grow," Steinberg said.

      A compromise 17,000-word bill was hammered out this month and
      endorsed by builders, environmentalists and local officials. It
      requires the state's 17 metropolitan planning organizations and its
      regional transportation plans to meet concrete targets to reduce
      global-warming emissions. The targets will be set by the state Air
      Resources Board. "California led the way into our culture of car
      dependence, so it is only appropriate that the state lead the way
      out," said David Goldberg, a spokesman for Smart Growth America, a
      Washington-based nonprofit. The law could "provide a model for other
      states," he added, noting that the number of miles Americans drive
      has risen at more than double the rate of population growth in recent

      Scientists agree that the earth is heating up at a dangerous pace, in
      part because of excess carbon dioxide and other gases from vehicles,
      power plants and other human sources. The expected effects in
      California include coastal flooding from rising sea levels, reduced
      water supply and the disappearance of many species of plants and
      animals, according to researchers.

      The legislation would lead to better-designed communities and save
      consumers on gas bills, advocates said. Thomas Adams, board president
      of the California League of Conservation Voters, called it the most
      important land-use bill in California since the Coastal Act in the
      1970s. "It is also the first legislation to link transportation
      funding with climate policy," he said.



      Richard Risemberg
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