Southern California


Southern California adopted its Sustainable Community Strategy in April 2016. ClimatePlan and local partners are monitoring its implementation.

Find out more about Southern California’s SCS and Regional Transportation Plan.

As the 2016 SCS was released, ClimatePlan also released a report measuring progress on implementing Southern California’s first (2012) SCS, called “Toward a Sustainable Future: Is Southern California On Track?”

Quick Fact

The 2016 SCS doubled investment in active transportation–walking and biking–thanks in part to ClimatePlan and partner advocacy.

That investment is needed: according to the 2016 SCS, 38% of all trips in the region are less than three miles, convenient for walking and biking.

About the Region

The Southern California region includes six counties and 191 cities, with more than 18 million residents – over half of California’s population. It is expected to grow to 22 million people by 2040.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the agency responsible for developing the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy.

SB 375 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets: 
– 8% per capita reduction for 2020
– 13% per capita reduction for 2035

The 2016 plan says implementation would result in an 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per capita by 2020, an 18% reduction by 2035, and a 21% reduction by 2040—compared with 2005 levels. This would exceed the longer-term required targets.

Leading Practices

For a full review of "leading practices," or best practices so far in Sustainable Communities Strategies from regions around the state, download our Leading The Way report. Here are a few from the Southern California region:

  1. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) took a thorough approach to including walking, biking, and public health in transportation modeling.

    SCAG modeled land use and neighborhood types in detail to predict how people in different land-use scenarios would choose to travel, factoring in infrastructure to support walking and biking as well as socioeconomic, age, and work data. Using this approach, SCAG found that its plan could more than double walking trips, and almost quadruple bike trips in urban areas, with a smaller biking increase in rural areas.

    The resulting 2016 RTP/SCS includes walking and biking in its road and transit projects with "complete streets" and first- and last-mile strategies to help people reach public transit easily from work and home. In addition, the plan invests earlier in active transportation so that residents can reap the benefits sooner.

  2. SCAG is helping local jurisdictions implement the plan by providing funding. Since 2012, its Sustainability Planning Grant Program has provided approximately $9 million for projects linking local land use plans with regional planning goals. This has allowed local jurisdictions to update general plans and zoning codes, complete specific plans for town centers and transit-oriented development, and develop active transportation and climate action plans.

    SCAG is encouraging plan implementation by supporting collaboration with County Transportation Commissions. SCAG has also developed and helped fund programs with six County Transportation Commissions to coordinate on first- and last-mile planning around key transit stations, evaluate progress on sustainability indicators, and conserve habitat and open space. SCAG is also working with local jurisdictions on pilot programs to fund infrastructure and housing development.

    All of this is helping to bridge the gap between SCS planning and implementation.


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