As the economy comes back to life and we move towards a (likely) prompt passage of a budget this June, it is heartening to see the Governor and our legislators focus their attention on the effort to build sustainable communities. In the last few days, we’ve seen two exciting events. First, late Thursday night, we learned that Caltrans would endorse the National Association of City Transportation Officials design guidelines, which many complete streets advocates have been waiting for the permission to implement for some time. Caltrans also indicated that it will refer to these guidelines for future updates to its Highway Design Guidelines. This is the first step Caltrans has taken to implement the recommendations from the Smart State Transportation Institute review, released in January. Many active transportation advocates took to twitter and facebook to rejoice the adoption of these guidelines, and we are excited to watch these guidelines play out across California, as cities experiment with new ways of promoting biking and walking.
But as exciting as the NACTO guidelines adoption was, today’s release from Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg was even more thrilling. Jettisoning his February proposal for a carbon tax in lieu of the volatility of cap-and-trade revenues for funding sustainable policies and programs, today the senator released an investment strategy for cap-and-trade revenues. This plan allocates the expected $3 to $5 billion in yearly revenues toward neglected, but essential priorities, with 40% going to affordable housing – in particular, housing along transit corridors, 30% to transit projects, and 10% for road maintenance and other basic transportation infrastructure. These funds will be allocated based on a competitive basis, and will help spur the investments that are incentivized in the Sustainable Communities Strategies so many of our allies have worked to implement throughout California. While there’s more to do, this is an excellent step in the right direction.
These two events demonstrate an encouraging convergence of sustainability policy considerations across the state’s leadership. We can’t wait to see what comes next.