Background: About SB 375

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The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, SB 375 (Steinberg) passed in 2008 thanks to an unprecedented coalition of developers, environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, and local government leaders.

The law requires local governments and transportation agencies to come together together to create regional strategies, to address the transportation, housing, and environmental challenges that no single city can tackle alone.

Making it happen

The California Air Resources Board adopted targets for greenhouse gas reductions for each region in the state.

Each region must work with its local government partners and stakeholders to create a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). The SCS is an element of the Regional Transportation Plan; it shows where growth and development will occur, supported by the region’s transportation system, in a way that reduces greenhouse gas pollution.

This increases accountability for transportation spending. It requires regional agencies to measure the impact that transportation dollars will have on greenhouse gases, and it encourages them to measure other impacts as well.

If a region demonstrates that it cannot meet its target, it must develop an Alternative Planning Strategy, which shows what additional policies and resources would be necessary for success.

Go to our In Your Region section for more information on SB 375 implementation in each major region in the state.

Why it matters

By 2050, California’s population will grow to nearly 60 million people. Decisions about how we accommodate that growth will have a huge impact on our health, economy, and environment.

By supporting sustainable growth, SB 375 can help Californians reap many benefits:

Cleaner air, lower health and medical costs
Air pollution-related illnesses cause thousands of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and premature deaths every year in California. Better planning would tackle a root cause of California’s worst-in-the-nation air pollution and help stop the rise of chronic illnesses.

New construction, job creation, and economic investment
Construction and home building were hit particularly hard in the last economic downturn, and far-flung suburbs were the last to recover from the foreclosure crisis. Through SB 375, developers can take advantage of a streamlined environmental review process – saving thousands of dollars per project – by building projects in walkable communities with public transit access. These projects are also more likely to hold their value over time.

Market demand for walkable neighborhoods 
SB 375 helps regions plan for future growth in a way that strengthens our economy and protects our quality of life. The housing market increasingly values the kind of compact, mixed-use development envisioned by SB 375.

Savings on taxpayer dollars
The planning principles encouraged by SB 375 will help cities save money by using energy, water, and infrastructure more efficiently.

More time and money for families
After housing, transportation is most households’ largest expense. When gas prices rise again, costs will rise further, particularly for those who live in auto-dependent neighborhoods. By building neighborhoods that offer additional options such as walking, biking, and public transit, Californians can save both time and money that would otherwise be spent on commuting.

Better, safer streets for walking and biking
California increasingly faces an obesity crisis. That is because many neighborhoods and regions make it difficult to travel on foot or by bike. In fact, thirty percent of all traffic fatalities for children ages 0-14 occur when children are walking and bicycling. Having safer routes for pedestrians and bicyclists will reduce traffic, support the independence of seniors and teenagers, and make it more pleasant to go out for a stroll.

Protected natural areas, working farms, and ranch lands
If we continue with trend development patterns, we will double California’s urban footprint by 2050, consuming more than 5,500 square miles of farmland, open space, and recreation areas. We can save that land by investing in existing neighborhoods and city centers.


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