Center for Clean Air Policy finds Smart Growth = Economic Growth: “Growing Wealthier” to be released Jan 19th in Washington D.C.

As we begin 2011, California has just one thing on its mind: MONEY.  With the new Administration releasing what Governor Brown described as a “painful budget” in his January 3rd inauguration, there is no question that every policy action from the state to local level will somehow revolve around the very real economic problems that continue to face us this coming year.

Now more than ever it is imperative that we make strategic investments in our future.

The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) will be formally releasing a new publication January 19th in Washington, D.C. at an event hosted by Senator Carper (D-Delaware).  Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity challenges popular notions about driving and prosperity – considering standard economic indicators, livability, public health, community vibrancy, and resource sustainability.

The core of Growing Wealthier is a walk through ten smart growth principles to identify a variety of economic and prosperity benefits: Returns on Investment, Savings on Expenditures and Improved Quality of Life. Authors Chuck Kooshian and Steve Winkelman indicate who reaps the benefits – whether it be businesses, households, municipal governments, metropolitan regions or the nation as a whole.

Growing Wealthier discusses the concept of “empty miles” (i.e. portion of VMT not economically productive) and how strategically reducing daily driving by just two and half miles per person would result in more economically efficient communities.  The authors also discuss the national trend between GDP and VMT, citing the United States Chamber of Commerce’s analysis that the importance of travel as a component of the economy has been declining since the early 1990s, and is projected to decline through 2030.  The study also highlights how investments in transportation can be strategically focused around job creation – for example, that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act found that transit investments reaped nearly twice as many “job-months” as those for highways.

CCAP recommends a “Do. Measure. Learn.” policy framework centered on themes of action, measurement and analysis.  Growing Wealthier calls for enhanced technical assistance to equip and empower state and local practitioners to plan, implement and evaluate smart growth and travel efficiency policies and their economic impacts.

California has shown national leadership on measuring environmental impacts of transportation investments; however, we cannot afford to continue the business-as-usual planning and entitlement approach to the business-of-the-future we wish to create.  To achieve the legislative intent of California’s SB 375 we will need to take serious consideration of not only the environmental impacts but also the direct and indirect economic impacts of our planning and entitlements – whether at the state or local level.

Two reports were released in 2010 which began the conversation of incorporating the economics of smart growth.  The State of California’s Strategic Growth Council and High Speed Rail Authority released Vision California, which laid out that household expenditures are reduced under a “Growing Smarter” scenario at the statewide level.   The Urban Land Institute also released findings in a report called SB 375 Impact Analysis which highlights the quality of life benefits through more efficient municipal services and infrastructure investments.

Despite these report findings, there seems to be a lack of their integration into California policy implementation.  CCAP is hopeful, however, that perhaps the third time will be the charm with the upcoming release of their much anticipated Growing Wealthier and will be the tipping point that California policy makers and shakers truly need to make the case that we simply must make smarter investments in land use and transportation projects.

CCAP will also hold a webinar on Thursday, January 20th from 1:30-3:00pm (EST) to provide highlights on the report.

Visit www.growingwealthier.info to purchase a high-resolution bound copy of the report, or to download a free copy of the report available on January 19th.

California "Pre-Release" at Revolution Wines in Sacramento

Policy in Motion’s Lauren Michele hosted a California “Pre-Release” of Growing Wealthier.  CCAP Author, Chuck Kooshian, spoke to influential California policy makers on the economic benefits of smart growth.  Guests included political and organization leaders from California state, regional, and local governments — Jerry Walters, Anthony Eggert, Larry Greene, Joe Krovoza, Julia Lave Johnston, Mike McCoy, Heather Fargo, Mike McKeever, Nancy McKeever, and Judy Corbett joined in the celebration.

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Find out what California policy leaders are endorsing as a 2011 “must-read” for transportation planning enthusiasts!

Growing Wealthier sheds important light on how smart growth policies can enhance prosperity and quality of life while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

- Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board

“CCAP is a strong, credible, influential voice on issues of transportation and climate change. This is another must-read report.”

- Dan Sperling, Director, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis

“Kooshian and Winkelman make a clear and convincing case that as we develop our communities, doing the right thing for the climate can do the right thing for the economy.”

- Mike McKeever, Executive Director, Sacramento Area Council of Governments

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