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What We Do

 

Our vision is of a healthier and more vital California, where communities are sustainable and equitable. To achieve this, we are changing how land-use planning and transportation investments occur throughout the state.

Our 2018 Strategic Plan is available here (PDF).

The Evolution of Our Work

How we began

In response to the need for coordinated action on California’s ground-breaking climate law, AB 32, in 2007, 11 environmental and planning non-profit groups came together as ClimatePlan.

Our goal was to make clear that, in order to achieve the new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the state needed to explicitly address land use and transportation. Transportation — largely driving — is the state’s largest contributor to climate-changing emissions, and land use determines how much driving people must do.

“Ambitious and achievable”

ClimatePlan’s first aim was to get implementation of the climate law to meaningfully address land use. The draft AB 32 Scoping Plan was very weak on land use, with a target of reducing greenhouse gases through smarter growth just 2 million metric tons by 2020.

In response, ClimatePlan commissioned a national expert, Reid Ewing, who demonstrated that the state could use smart growth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11-14 million metric tons. ClimatePlan called for this much higher target, and dozens of organizations endorsed our position. Thanks in part to ClimatePlan’s organizing, land use became one of the most high-profile components of the climate law’ scoping plan.

In September 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 375 to do what we’d asked: make clear California must address land use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SB 375 requires every region in the state to have a target for these reductions. The state Air Resources Board committed to adopting “the most ambitious, achievable” targets, and these were adopted in 2010.

Strategies for sustainability

Our work then focused on improving the regional plans, called Sustainable Communities Strategies, that regions must create to meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

During the first round of Sustainable Communities Strategies, we particularly worked in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley to advocate for plans that invested in existing communities, urban and rural, rather than in sprawling new towns. We also worked to boost the plans’ funding for public transit, sidewalks, safe bike lanes, and local planning.

We then tracked how and whether regions were implementing their plans, and advocated for stronger measures in the second round of Sustainable Communities Strategies.

Tougher targets, meeting goals, and focusing on equity

Now we are working to make the regional targets for greenhouse-gas reductions stronger, and to make sure that the target-setting process considers impacts on vulnerable communities.

We are also working to improve state legislation and agency policy to help meet the goals set in AB 32 and SB 375. In particular, we are tracking state transportation spending and seeking to shift funds toward disadvantaged communities’ needs and to make sustainable, healthy alternatives to driving more convenient and affordable.

The challenge continues to be to get SB 375 successfully implemented, while ensuring its implementation benefits low-income communities and communities of color, and expanding on the law to meet new challenges.

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