Kaid Benfield Archive


NY Times applauds California smart growth law

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 7, 2008 at 5:10PM

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Last week, I reported that California Governor Schwarzenegger had just signed a landmark law that will require land use planning and corresponding investment to curb global warming emissions:  in a nutshell, smart growth.

This morning, The New York Times chimed in with approval:

"For years, while Washington slept, most of the serious work on climate change has occurred in the states, and no state has worked harder than California. The latest example of California's originality is a new law - the nation's first - intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by curbing urban sprawl and cutting back the time people have to spend in their automobiles . . .

"The state's Air Resources Board will determine the level of emissions produced by cars and light trucks, including S.U.V.'s, in each of California's 17 metropolitan planning areas. Emissions-reduction goals for 2020 and 2035 would be assigned to each area. Local governments would then devise strategies for housing development, road-building and other land uses to shorten travel distances, reduce driving and meet the new targets.

"One obvious solution would be to change zoning laws so developers can build new housing closer to where people work. Another is to improve mass transit - in woefully short supply in California - so commuters don't have to rely so much on cars.

"The bill contains significant incentives, including the promise of substantial federal and state money to regions whose plans pass muster. In addition, and with the consent of the environmental community, the state will relax various environmental rules to allow "infill" - higher-density land use in or near cities and towns.

"The bill's architect, State Senator Darrell Steinberg, worked closely with developers and environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council . . ."

Read the full editorial here.  Way to go, team!