Once adamantaly opposed, the League of Caliofrnia Cities board of directors voted unanimously to support SB 375 last week. This bill, the conerstone of incoming Speaker Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg's legislative package, has been among the mostly hotly contested and negoitated in the Capitol the last two years.
The overarching objective of the bill is to establish a strategy for regional greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets resulting from regional land use patterns. When first introduced SB 375 initally sought to dramatically alter development patterns in California through a state-based land-use planning and decision-making process.
Because the original approach was deemed overly restrictive – and because it seemed to ignore the state’s housing need – organizations such as the CA Building Industry Association and the League of Cities actively opposed and was successful in stopping it in August 2007.
The provisions that were oringially found obejectionable were: Top-down planning and land-use requirements, Withholding of federal and state transportation funding; Absence of incentives for housing (i.e. CEQA reform).
All of these were stricken from the final bill. Now, the compromise agreement reached last week includes the following:
- Assurance of adequate land for housing
- Establishment of greater certainty in the land-use entitlement process;
- Relief from duplicative environmental reviews;
- A road map for compliance with the land-use elements of AB 32.
SB 375 grants new statutory authority to CA Air Resources Board to establish regional carbon targets (for 2020 and 2035) associated with autos and light duty trucks for the affected regions. These targets must be in place by January 1, 2011 and CARB is moving on appointing committee members by January 31, 2009.
Interestingly, SB 375 does not mandate that the targets actually be achieved. Rather, it creates incentives to achieve the targets by allocating funding to transportation projects consistent with its goals and offer CEQA streamlining to consistent projects.
SB 375 was taken up by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on Thursday, Aug. 7, where it was moved off the suspense file. Sen. Steinberg and the stakeholders supporting the bill are optimistic that it will go to the full Assembly for a vote and on to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk to be signed.
Read more on the League's website here.