Focus on Fresno – Major May Wins

The San Joaquin Valley continues to figure prominently in ClimatePlan’s work; the last few weeks have been especially active. Below we highlight two major wins in Fresno resulting from months — even years — of effort by our Fresno allies! In both instances, we see the importance of investing in existing neighborhoods as a way to improve and ensure public and fiscal health take center stage.

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Trojan University?

Last Friday, ClimatePlan partner ECOS suffered a disappointing setback in its effort to halt the development of the infamous Cordova Hills project, when a judge rejected their legal challenge to the SCS-busting development. Although a potentially VMT-mitigating university never materialized, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved the project, to the chagrin of many. Not only will the project increase VMT, its approval undermines the region’s collaborative ethos and jeopardizes Sacramento’s standing as it competes for funds (including, potentially, cap-and-trade money) to implement the state’s climate goals.

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SCS Implementation – Keeping Local Governments Honest

Since its inception, ClimatePlan has been a part of a sea change in which sustainability has overtaken our long-standing approach to growth of promoting highway expansion and greenfield development. State policy, administrative actions, and regional collaboration have enabled Sacramento (SACOG), the Bay Area (MTC), Southern California (SCAG), and San Diego (SANDAG) to adopt SCSes that prioritize sustainability by meeting their GHG reduction targets while emphasizing co-benefits such as increased transit, infrastructure for biking and walking, better public health metrics, and greater social equity for all.

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Air (e)quality for all

The American Lung Association in California (ALAC) released its annual State of the Air report today. Not surprisingly, the report notes that the top 5 worst metro regions for ozone pollution are all in California, including Los Angeles, Hanford-Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno-Madera, and Sacramento. No less than 77% of Californians live in counties that have high numbers of unhealthy air days.

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Advocates experience a windfall

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.

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