Click here for links to California Planning & Development Report's ongoing coverage on SB 375, the important new law that links land use planning and greenhouse gas emissions reduction in California.Senate Bill 375 – the 2008 law that links land use planning and greenhouse gas emissions reduction in California – is big news in the planning and development world nationwide.

Let California Planning & Development Report help you figure out what SB 375 means. As the leading planning publication in California, CP&DR has been watching SB 375 more closely than anybody else. You can find out more simply by clicking on the links below. Check back often because we will be updating this page frequently.

GHG Targets May Signal End of Era of Sprawl 

After two years' worth of recommendations, staff reports, committee meetings, research, computer modeling and input from literally all corners of the state, the ARB approved greenhouse gas emissions targets pursuant to SB 375 late last month. Many have called the target-setting process – resulting in goals of at least 7% per capita emissions reductions for the state's four biggest metropolitan planning organizations by 2020 – the most exhaustive, collaborative, and data-driven regional planning process in the history of the state, if not the country. 

GHG Emissions Target-Setting Process Grows Thick 

As you probably recall, the committee (known as the RTAC or "Are-Tack") was charged with making recommendations to the Air Resources Board for regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from passenger vehicles, based on transportation systems and land use planning. The committee report issued last September was one of the first steps in implementing SB 375, the 2008 legislation that ties land use planning and transportation so as to reduce GHG emissions. 

Prop 23, Whitman Cannot Slow Down Progressive Planning Laws

The entire California planning world now seems to revolve around combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But Proposition 23 – a long-term suspension of the state's climate-change law – is on the ballot this fall. The proposition is behind at the polls – but if it passes – will that be the end of SB 375, Sustainable Communities Strategies, greenhouse gas emissions analyses in environmental impact reports, and the whole industry that has been built up around climate change planning? 

Santa Monica General Plan Anticipates SB 375

With the implementation of SB 375 still to come, cities across California will be challenged to revamp their general plans to meet goals of reducing vehicle miles traveled and promoting more compact development. In the race to write the perfect plan, the City of Santa Monica has, according to some, taken an early lead with the approval in July of a new land use and circulation element (LUCE).

AB 32 Backlash Clouds Future of Smart Growth
Not long ago, when California's economy was booming and concerns about rising seas were mounting, California tapped into its environmentalist traditions to pass popular laws that promised to lead the nation in greenhouse gas mitigation. While there are no sure signs that the global climate has cooled, the same cannot be said for the state's support of anti-climate-change legislation, including smart growth law SB 375.

State Adopts Guidelines For Analyzing GHG Emissions
New California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines that urge public agencies to quantify and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from projects whenever possible have gone into effect. Outgoing Natural Resources Secretary Michael Chrisman signed the guideline amendments on December 30.

Panel Urges More Work Before Regional GHG Targets Set
A committee of experts appointed by the California Air Resources Board should come up with a list of best management practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by new development by January 2010. The practices, combined with estimates of future transportation demand, should provide the basis for the board to establish regional targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions later in 2010, according to the advisory committee.

Regions May Get More Climate Mandates, But Little Funding
Sometime this year or next year, Congress will probably pass a climate change bill that tries to mimic SB 375's link between transportation patterns and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Cal APA Conference Follow-Up: Climate Change Confusion
For the third consecutive year, the subject of climate change dominated the annual conference of the American Planning Association, California Chapter. What was evident during this year's event, which concluded September 16 in Squaw Valley, was that the issues are extraordinarily complex, and the available tools are not ideal.

Federal Climate Legislation May Complement State Efforts
With the election of President Obama and the emergence of a Democratic majority in Congress, it appears that the federal government may soon pass sweeping legislation to address greenhouse gas emissions. Based on a preponderance of research linking greenhouse gas emissions to urban sprawl and reliance on automobiles, a national program may usher in the next great trend in urban planning.

Emissions Target Committee Releases Draft Report
The committee advising the Air Resources Board on how to establish regional greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets related to land use released a draft of its final report today.

Bureaucratic Compliance With SB 375 May Not Reduce Driving
Now that the age of greenhouse gas emissions reduction is upon us, I think there's an important point worth making: Government agencies in California can try to comply with SB 375 – or they can focus on reducing driving.

To Truly Reduce Driving, California Should Imitate Portland
At the risk of repeating what I and about a million other people have already said, I'll say it again: California could learn a lot from Portland when it comes to transit and its climate-related benefits.

Shall We Comply With SB 375 Or Drive Less Instead?
It seems to me that, like so many other policy initiatives, this whole SB 375 thing can either be a bureaucratic nightmare or a useful way to move forward. We can devote an enormous amount of time and attention to figuring out how to comply with the law ... or we can figure out how to drive less.

SB 375 Advisory Committee Inches Toward Policy Issues
The committee charged with recommending how the Air Resources Board should establish greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets under AB 32 and SB 375 spent much of its first half dozen meetings talking in about the technical details of measuring emissions and modeling for future emissions. That changed on Wednesday, June 3, when Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC) member Richard Katz said he'd had enough.

Locals Attack SB 375 As Inefficient Way To Go After Climate Change
Even as local officials in Southern California attack the question of how to implement SB 375, they have slyly begun to suggest that the bill isn't the best way to attack the problem it supposedly addresses – greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is not clear what the locals will do with this line of attack, unless they are angling to try to go back to the Legislature to shift the responsibility for GHG emissions reductions away from land use and back toward technological improvements.

SCAG Plan Gets Part-Way To Needed Emissions Reductions
The Southern California Association of Governments has unveiled a new "conceptual land use plan" that concentrates development on a half-million acres of land near rail, bus rapid transit, and local bus lines in the six-county SCAG region. Initial numbers suggest that this plan would only get SCAG 60% of the way toward the region's likely SB 375 emissions reduction target.

Cities, Counties Weigh SB 375 Strategies While Rules Evolve
SB 375 is now law, but another year and a half will pass before the California Air Resources Board adopts the follow-up numerical regional targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. This puts California's cities and counties in a pretty big bind: How can they adopt plans for the future that will conform with the climate change law if they don't know what standard they are going to have to comply with?

SB 375 Puts California In The Lead; Now What?
Love it or hate it, SB 375 shifted the ground underneath planners feet, and the true slipping and sliding is only now beginning. In a story for Planning magazine, we present to law to a national audience. Meanwhile, CP&DR's Joel Ellinwood explains the legal, policy and practical implementation to his attorney friends. Yes, there's more to learn. 

Climate Change Mandates: No, We Can't Make Them Go Away
One Republican assemblyman has introduced legislation to repeal AB 32. Although eliminating AB 32 and related new laws and executive orders might make California planning simpler, we think the world has changed. Policy-makers and professionals are now focused on ways to implement the new laws.

SB 375 Continues To Dominate Planning Discussion
Senate Bill 375 dominated this year's UCLA Land Use Law and Planning Conference. If there was a common theme in commentators' numerous presentations, it was this: SB 375 has the potential to change dramatically both California's land use planning system and growth patterns, and the law is very much a work in progress.

Asking Hard Questions About SB 375
Senate Bill 375 needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed this year. So says Rick Bishop, executive director of the Western Riverside Council of Governments.

CARB Decision Places Even More Focus On SB 375 Process
Five million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is the target – at least for now – that is likely to drive "smart growth"-style land use planning in California over the next few years. It's the tentative reduction target that the California Air Resources Board has assigned to the land use sector in order to help meet the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals by 2020.

Greenhouse Gas Plan Defers To SB 375 Process
An AB 32 Scoping Plan that places a great deal of emphasis on the SB 375 process was approved on December 11 by the California Air Resources Board. Rather than adjusting the target one way or the other, CARB assigned the SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee – or RTAC, which has yet to be appointed – the task of refining the land use target.

SB 375: It's An Incremental Change, Not A Revolution
Supporters and opponents alike are touting SB 375 as the most significant land use reform bill in recent California history. When he signed it in September, Gov. Schwarzenegger called it the biggest bill since the California Environmental Quality Act 38 as approved years ago. Meanwhile, the hilariously over-the-top Orange County Register has called the bill "one of the most authoritarian, far-reaching and elitist bills that has ever made it to the governor's desk." In fact, it is neither.

Regional Planning Bill Approved By Lawmakers
Senate Bill 375 is alternately being described as the most important land use legislation since the California Coastal Act of 1976, and a step in the right direction. Only time will tell whether the bill is a landmark or an incremental step, but there is no denying that SB 375 author Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) aimed high. "At the heart of this effort," Steinberg said, "is the need to integrate our housing and transportation plans to create sustainable communities."

SB 375 Is Now Law -- But What Will It Do?
SB 375, the anti-sprawl bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last night, is both more and less powerful than it's advertised to be, and whether it leads to sweeping change depends on how aggressively California's regional planning agencies implement it.

State Air Board Doubles SB 375 Emissions Target
The other shoe has dropped on the SB 375 front, as the California Air Resources Board has more than doubled the target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions to be obtained through regional planning.

The Disconnect Between SB 375 And Local Planning
Can California and its communities fit together regional plans, local plans, state housing requirements, and new state requirements on greenhouse gas emissions reductions?
Probably not, according to panelists speaking this morning at the California Chapter, American Planning Association conference in Hollywood.

State Budget And SB 375: Incompatible Priorities
Only three weeks after insisting that California should encourage dense development near transit lines, state lawmakers have approved a budget that yanks funding from transit and redevelopment.

Should California Restrict Driving In Order To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
A statewide cap on driving?
Here's the thing nobody is quite willing to say out loud about implementing California's climate change law in the land use arena: The state may have to place an overall cap on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), even as it must accommodate more growth.