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League Advocates for Continued Local Flexibility at SB 375 Implementation Progress Hearing

May 23, 2014
The League testified on behalf of its membership at a Senate Transportation and Housing Committee informational hearing last week focused on assessing the progress of implementing the provisions and intent of SB 375 (Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 375 in 2008 following the passage of greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction legislation AB 32 in 2006. The goal of AB 32 is to reduce state GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — an estimated 30 percent reduction. Under SB 375, regional transportation planning agencies are required to craft a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) plan meeting car and light truck GHG emission reduction targets developed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). In addition, SB 375 outlines a framework that retains local flexibility and provides greater planning certainty by aligning three distinct planning processes.      
In brief, SB 375’s provisions:
  • Align three distinct planning processes: transportation, housing and GHG emissions from cars and light trucks.
  • Provide California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining for residential projects that are consistent with the plan to achieve the determined GHG reduction target.
  • Authorize local regions to develop standards that provide a framework addressing such emissions while assuring that special local and regional circumstances are considered.
During the hearing, League Legislative Representative Kirstin Kolpitcke emphasized that:  
  • The League supported SB 375 because it was based on incentives. However, since the enactment of SB 375, there have been little in the way of incentives and resources to implement SCS.
  • It is critical that the entire first round of Sustainable Community Strategies be adopted so we can properly evaluate what has worked and what has not.
For additional information on the hearing, please see the committee’s background report and video recording (League testimony begins at 2:57:33).
League Hosts Conference Call with Bay Area Cities   
In addition to the SB 375 hearing, the League held an informational conference call with cities within the Association of Bay Area Governments to discuss potential amendments to SB 792 (DeSaulnier) that would have undercut local authority regarding implementation of SB 375 policies in their jurisdictions.
Specifically, members were briefed on draft amendments that could have resulted in the loss of local land use authority and set a troubling precedent for the rest of the state. Potential amendments sought to require a SCS, adopted on or after Jan. 1, 2015, include performance targets relating to economic development, social equity, governance and the environment, including but not limited to, air quality, sea level rise, climate change and other hazard readiness.
Due to local awareness and engagement by affected local officials on this issue, the League has heard that the proposed amendments described above would no longer be pursued by the bill’s author; thus preserving local authority over SB 375 implementation. The League will continue to monitor the implementation progress of SB 375 and remain watchful for any statutory changes that could result in the erosion of local control. In addition, the League is currently advocating for a dedication of Cap-and-Trade revenues to support the goals of local SB 375 implementation.  

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