California Policy Education/Webinars Modeling/Tools SB 375

“SB 375 Implementation and CEQA” — Policy in Motion / Fehr & Peers Presentation on Wed July 28th in Sacramento

Miss the presentation?  Want to see it again?

View Ron Milam and Lauren Michele’s materials linked here!


Conceding they can’t find enough votes for the measure, yesterday Senate Democrats abandoned efforts to put together comprehensive climate change legislation that would seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Here in the State of California’s maze of political and financial issues, the death of a federal climate bill certainly does not help our efforts to engage the public and promote change.  However, we should remember that it was the LACK of federal direction on climate change reform over the past decade that led California and 37 other states to develop Climate Action Plans (see Journalists Mourn the Death of the Federal Climate Bill)

The lack of federal direction provides an excellent opportunity for the State of California to make creative and long-lasting changes in its land use/transportation and environmental processes that thread through the State’s transportation revenue system.

You’re invited to “SB 375 IMPLEMENTATION AND CEQA” – an overview of policy and technical challenges in California.  Join us Wednesday, July 28th for this opportunity to ask questions and participate in a discussion with Lauren Michele – federal and California policy expert with Policy in Motion, and Ron Milam – Principal in Charge of Technical Development with Fehr & Peers.

  • What:     “SB 375 IMPLEMENTATION AND CEQA: Policy and Technical Challenges”
  • Who:       Ron Milam from Fehr & Peers and Lauren Michele from Policy in Motion
  • When:     Wednesday, July 28th from 12pm-1pm
  • Where:    Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District
  • RSVP:      Tuesday, July 27 to to reserve FREE LUNCH!

Please join us for an overview on how federal agency and legislative efforts tie into California’s SB 375 implementation via incentive structures, transportation/land use planning processes, and technical data collection methods and modeling tools.


More background on this topic can be found on the California Trans&Climate Policy page and in Lauren Michele’s analysis of the implications of California’s existing regulatory frameworks as presented throughout Chapter 3 of the report: “Rethinking California’s Planning Frameworks to Support Senate Bill 375: A White Paper on Local, Regional, State and Federal Climate Change Policy Reform

California Policy Federal Policy GHG Reduction NewsFlash

Journalists Mourn the Death of the Federal Climate Bill

I went ahead and titled this post in anticipation of there being a flurry of articles written on Senate Democrats pulling the plug on comprehensive climate change legislation — below are the first three I’ve seen in the last 45 minutes…..but first here’s my own take.

So what does this mean for California? The lack of federal support and direction as California tries to move forward with implementation of AB 32 and SB 375 in our own climate where Proposition 23 is gaining support to kill AB 32, a governor’s race could result in a moratorium on climate change implementation, possibility of major climate-related job loss worsens already shaky morale at the California Air Resources Board, an uncertain future for the State budget looms, and local governments have been forced to launch an “SOS” (save our services) campaign to restore funds that were raided by the same State that is “incentivizing” sustainable communities through the Strategic Growth Council.  With California’s maze of political and financial issues, the death of a comprehensive federal climate bill certainly does not help our efforts to engage the public and promote change here.  However, we should remember that it was the LACK of federal direction on climate change reform over the past decade that led California and 37 other states to develop Climate Action Plans.  The end of one effort should be taken as a signal to reassess political strategies and financial priorities, particularly in California where our goals have become greatly distanced from actual implementation success.  The lack of federal direction provides an excellent opportunity for the State of California to be forced into making creative and long-lasting changes in its funding structures and the land use/transportation and environmental processes that thread through the State’s transportation revenue system.  In any case, California needs to take action in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the same level of importance that was executed during the Clean Air Act in the 1970s, and regional/local governments need both financial and technical support to make substantive changes in land use planning today so that the compounding effects of GHG reduction can be realized for the State’s 2050 GHG goals.

More can be found on the California Trans&Climate Policy page and in Lauren Michele’s analysis of the implications of California’s existing regulatory frameworks as presented throughout Chapter 3 of the report: “Rethinking California’s Planning Frameworks to Support Senate Bill 375: A White Paper on Local, Regional, State and Federal Climate Change Policy Reform

Download PDF from Pew Center


E&E Daily — Thursday, July 22 —

Senate Democrats today pulled the plug on comprehensive climate change legislation with their decision to move forward with a limited Gulf spill response and energy package. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) admitted the obvious today — they do not have the 60 votes to pass climate legislation. Reid placed the blame squarely on Republicans despite the fact that the 59-member Democratic caucus was never unified on cap and trade to begin with.


Senate Democrats Abandon Comprehensive Climate Bill

By Perry Bacon Jr. — Washington Post Staff Writer — Thursday, July 22, 2010; 4:22 PM

Conceding they can’t find enough votes for the measure, Senate Democrats on Thursday abandoned efforts to put together a comprehensive energy bill that would seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions, delivering a potentially fatal blow to a proposal Democrats have long touted and President Obamacampaigned on.

Instead, Democrats will push for a more limited bill that would seek to increase liability costs that oil companies would pay following spills such as the onein the Gulf of Mexico and would create additional incentives for the development of natural gas vehicles and provide rebates to people who buy products that reduce home energy use. They did not release details of the proposal, but Senate Democrats said they expected to find GOP support and pass it in the next two weeks.

Democrats have not ruled out pushing for a more comprehensive bill when Congress returns from its August recess or in the session after the November elections, although it’s not clear that any of the Democrats or Republicans who now oppose a more expansive measure would change their votes. Republicans have long argued the bill, by seeking to limit emissions, would lead to higher energy costs for American consumers, a view some conservative Democrats have also taken.

The decision to abandon the proposal was another concession to the difficult political environment Democratic leaders face, as many rank and file congressional Democrats are wary of casting any vote that could be used in political attacks by Republicans.

Democrats who advocated the broader measure didn’t hide their disappointment in falling short. Carol Browner, who heads the White House’s Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, said, “obviously everyone is disappointed,’ while Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the primary author of the comprehensive bill, said the legislation Democrats will take up next week is “admittedly narrow.”

“We now where we are. We know we don’t have the votes,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.)

Reid blamed the GOP for blocking the bill, noting that no Republicans in the Senate had said they would back the bill. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who had helped write the comprehensive measure with Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Kerry, announced in June he would no longer back the measure, arguing Congress should pursue a smaller, more targeted measure.

But in truth, despite weeks of meetings to reach a compromise, Democrats themselves were deeply divided on the legislation.

Efforts to put together a major bill to limit carbon emissions and encourage the use of alternative energy sources had long been considered doomed in the Senate, even though the House approved last June a bill that would set a limit on overall emissions of greenhouse gases while allowing utilities and other emitters to trade pollution permits.

A group of Democrats whose states produce coal, such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) thought the bill could lead to increased energy costs in their states, while others worried about pushing such a controversial political issue after Democrats had already passed the stimulus and health-care bills.

But following the Gulf oil spill, President Obama sought to push the public and Congress to back comprehensive approach, making the case that the accident illustrated the importance of the U.S. reducing its dependence on oil. In a speech last month in Pittsburgh, he said, “The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.”

But in the weeks after the spill, Kerry, who had months ago stopped pushing the so-called cap and trade measure the House had passed, failed to win backing among his colleagues for a pared-back measure that would limit greenhouse gas emissions by electric utilities.

Kerry said Obama had pledged to stay involved and keep working for a broader bill, but the longtime senator’s remarks hinted at the challenge: he said it would pass “much sooner” than the decades it took his late colleague Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) to get comprehensive health care bill through Congress.

The decision by Democrats means that two major issues they had pledged to take on this year, energy reform and immigration, could remain unresolved before the midterm elections.


Democrats Pull Plug on Climate Bill

By: Darren Samuelsohn and Coral Davenport — July 22, 2010 01:01 PM EDT

Senate Democrats pulled the plug on climate legislation Thursday, pushing the issue off into an uncertain future ahead of midterm elections where President Barack Obama’s party is girding for a drubbing.

Rather than a long-awaited measure capping greenhouse gases — or even a more limited bill directed only at electric utilities — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will move forward next week on a bipartisan energy-only bill that responds to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and contains other more popular energy items.

“It’s easy to count to 60,” Reid said. “I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade. My point is this, we know where we are. We know we don’t have the votes [for a bill capping emissions]. This is a step forward.”

“He’s anxious to get something done before we leave in August,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said of Reid. “Given the time constraints, this probably is a realistic judgment on his part.”

“We don’t have the 60 votes,” said Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “So Sen. Reid’s a pragmatist. So rather than take us to a situation where we don’t have the votes, rather than do half-measures, let’s wait until we can get it done and get it right. So I think it’s a smart decision.”

The bill headed to the floor will not include a carbon cap or a renewable electricity standard, Bingaman said. Instead, it has low-hanging-fruit provisions dealing with the oil spill, Home Star energy efficiency upgrades, incentives for the conversion of trucking fleet to natural gas and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was visibly disappointed but said he isn’t giving up hope on getting “a decent bill” on climate within the next two weeks.

Still, he said, “the Republicans don’t want to cooperate on anything. On any of these major issues they vote no, and we’ve got to get some Republican votes because we don’t have unanimity in our caucus. So we’re still hoping they decide they want to govern instead of scoring political points.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) insisted that he, too, had hope for getting some kind of climate bill through the Senate in the next two weeks. He said he spoke with Obama Thursday and that the president had “committed to work at a more intensive pace” in the days ahead.

But the writing has been on the wall all week, with advocates lowering expectations in light of continued opposition from GOP senators and some moderate Democrats.

“I don’t believe an energy bill has ever passed off the floor in less than about three weeks,” Kerry said earlier Thursday during a town-hall style forum hosted by the Clean Energy Works, an umbrella advocacy organization that includes environmentalists, labor and religious groups. “The fact is this is a very complicated bill that has a lot of moving parts. I’m very realistic about that.”

“It’s not dying,” Kerry added. “It’s not going away…We’re going to try our best to find a way to do it in the next few weeks. If we can’t do it in the next weeks, we’ll do something that begins to do something responsibly in the short term. But this will stay out there, and we’ll be working on it; we’ll be asking you to talk to your senators and move them to understand why we have to get this done.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Kerry’s partner on the climate proposal, said he had no problem with Reid delaying debate on greenhouse gas caps. “If that’s the truth, it keeps the process open for negotiating a broader utilities-only bill in September,” he said.

Kerry and Lieberman are still working with the electric utility industry, including its lead trade group, the Edison Electric Institute, on a bill slicing its emissions around 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

But other Democrats have their doubts that Kerry and Lieberman will even get time for a floor debate after the August break, especially with Reid and other senators girding up for their own reelection bids.

“We’ve got very substantial constraints on our time when we get back,” Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico said Thursday.

“I don’t think there are going to be two energy packages on the floor this year,” said Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. “Whatever comes to the floor on energy is going to be the package we’re going to consider.”

California Policy

Fran Inman Appointed to California Transportation Commission

By Howard Fine

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Fran Inman, senior vice president at Majestic Realty Corp., to the California Transportation Commission.

Inman, 64, has focused on infrastructure and transportation issues at Majestic. She also headed the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s transportation committee before becoming the organization’s chairwoman in 2009.

Inman also serves on the state Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. She is a founding member of FuturePorts, which seeks to improve the infrastructure at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

The California Transportation Commission meets monthly to dole out state and federal transportation dollars for projects and determine the state’s transportation priorities. Board members earn $100 for each meeting day and must be confirmed by the state Senate.

© 2010 Los Angeles Business Journal | (323) 549-5225

California Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash SB 375

CA Air Resources Board Releases Draft SB 375 GHG Targets for MPOs

ARB staff has released its draft regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for automobiles and light trucks pursuant to Senate Bill 375.

Full report can be found here.

The table below is a Policy in Motion synthesis of both MPOs’ and ARB’s proposed GHG reduction targets presented over the past month.  More synthesis available at the “California MPOs Reveal Results of SB 375 Soul-Searching” post linked here.

California Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash Public Transit Publications SB 375

State of California Releases “Vision California” Report, Puts Price on CA’s SB 375

The State of California Strategic Growth Council is releasing the results today of “Vision California,” a study funded in part by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to project the costs and benefits of the growth and transportation decisions that are being made under two scenarios: Business-As-Usual and Growing Smart.  The report does a good job putting a dollar value on land use choices and summarizing the potential effects of policy changes. “Vision California: Charting Our Future,” assesses the economic, energy, health, and land impacts on a population expected to reach 60 million by 2050.

The report finds a per household savings of $6,400/year from automobile and utility costs.  The “Growing Smarter” scenario yields a per household VMT reduction for a 2050 horizon year of 26%  from a 2005 baseline and 30% from the “Business as Usual” scenario.  These results seem consistent with a major “meta-analysis” conducted by the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center’s, which found a range of 20 to 40 percent VMT/capita reduction from compact development based on existing literature ranges.

For a copy of the full report, visit:

California Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning SB 375

“California MPOs Reveal Results of SB375 Soul-Searching” by Jerry Walters, Fehr & Peers

Policy in Motion Note:

Lauren Michele is also an editor for Fehr and Peers’ climate change blog,, and recently contributed to an article written by Jerry Walters on the SB 375 greenhouse gas target setting process which is currently underway at the California Air Resources Board.  Jerry Walters is the Fehr & Peers Chief Technical Officer and leader of the firm’s Cool Connections initiative on transportation strategies for sustainable climate, energy and health — he has also served as a member of the SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC).  The following posting is from CoolConnections and can be found by clicking here.  Observations by RTAC member Jerry Walters, along with his opinions on unresolved issues appear here.


In May, California’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations revealed their self-assessments of their ability to curb climate change.  MPOs representing over 90% of the state’s population went on record with estimates of their “ambitious and achievable” 25-year reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The announcements followed more than seven months of public outreach and stakeholder discussions, scenario testing and modeling representing the “bottom up process” within the regions to assess their GHG reduction potential.  The process was prescribed by the State’s SB375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC) in its September 2009 report California Air Resources Board. The resulting MPO reports will inform the Board’s deliberations on regional GHG targets required under the California’s landmark SB375 climate legislation.

MPOs representing the state’s four major regions Los Angeles (SCAG), San Francisco (MTC), San Diego (SANDAG) and Sacramento (SACOG) submitted a unified report, though the proposed land use and transportation strategies varied from region to region (as shown in the following table), as did each regions’ estimated performance levels.  The MPOs and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies representing Fresno, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Butte, and Shasta counties also presented target-setting proposals.

Based on information provided for the May 25 RTAC meeting, the MPO land use and transportation scenarios identified as “ambitious but achievable” would reduce GHG per capita in 2020 to between 5% and 11% below 2005 levels.  Each MPO estimated that its region could double those reductions by 2020 through much more aggressive land use, demand management and transportation investment strategies that they deemed very ambitious, but not necessarily achievable.

Ambitious Enough?

The reported scenarios and performance levels provoked a full day’s public comment and discussion by the RTAC.  Observations by RTAC member Jerry Walters, along with his opinions on unresolved issues appear here. Questions include whether the MPO scenarios and GHG reductions are ambitious enough, including:

  • whether assumptions on land use respond to anticipated growth in market demand for compact growth
  • whether roadway pricing assumptions were ambitious enough, given the above-mentioned modest escalation in fuel prices projected over the next 25 years
  • the reasons for worsening jobs/housing balances in several regions
  • differences in the estimated effectiveness of travel demand management (TDM)
  • the lack of information on vehicle miles traveled in the MPO reports
  • the fact that the achievable 2020 reduction percentages for the three largest MPOs were actually higher than projected reductions in 2035

Questions Remain

In addition to the specific questions on the MPO scenario analysis above, several substantial issues remain for ARB to address in its deliberations in the coming months:

  • whether ARB should set a uniform statewide target, as suggested in the September 2009 RTAC findings, or allow that regional variations, matching the individual target proposals submitted last week
  • whether to set target ranges, rather than specific targets, that might allow the MPOs to perform within the ranges between “ambitious” and “achievable” as defined by each MPO
  • the extent to which MPOs and others might perform technical reasonableness checks on the MPO modeling analysis , using information on typical effectiveness of land use and TDM strategies that the University of California has been preparing for ARB
  • how to translate the final SB375 GHG reduction targets  into update goals in the AB 32 Scoping Plan which predicted that the land use and associated changes in transportation emphasis could deliver a 4% reduction in GHG (or 5 million metric tons) relative to 2020 trend-line conditions

ARB workshops and Board hearings on the targets begin on June 24 and through July. For more information, visit:

California Policy NewsFlash SB 375

ULI Releases SB 375 Report on Economic and Environmental Benefits

SB 375 Has Much Potential to Help California’s Urban Areas Be More Environmentally and Economically Sustainable, Says Urban Land Institute’s Analysis of Law”

Report from Land Use Experts Emphasizes Wise Implementation as Key to Success

For more information, contact Trish Riggs at 202-624-7086;

LOS ANGELES (June 4, 2010) — A California law that requires metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to create and implement land use plans that use compact, coordinated, and efficient development patterns to reduce auto dependency could, if implemented wisely, help the state’s urban regions become more economically and environmentally sustainable, according to an analysis of the law released today by the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

The SB 375 Impact Analysis Report examines the potential effects of California Senate Bill 375 on the economic future for the state and the quality of life for its residents. In particular, the report analyzes the law’s mandate for a new regional land use plan, Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), which calls for more coordinated and efficient development patterns that can accommodate all types of land uses. The law requires regional transportation plans (RTPs) to include such strategies to encourage better alignment of land use, transportation, and housing planning.

Enacted in September 2008, SB 375 is part of a series of initiatives the state has underway to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target reduction goals (cutting emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and further cutting emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050). The impact of SB 375 will become more apparent this fall, as MPOs strive to meet a deadline for regional greenhouse gas emissions set by the California Air Resources Board.

ULI, a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use, has long supported land- and energy-efficient development practices to accommodate growth in urban areas. The Institute and its District Councils in California – ULI Los Angeles, ULI San Francisco, ULI Sacramento, ULI San Diego, and ULI Orange County/Inland Empire– recently convened an interdisciplinary panel of real estate leaders, including developers, land use attorneys, academics and public officials, to conduct an analysis of the law. The panel’s findings formed the basis for SB 375 Impact Analysis Report, which was released today in Los Angeles during the Transit-Oriented Development Summit 2010 sponsored by ULI Los Angeles. The panel was jointly sponsored by ULI and Smart Growth America.

SB 375 reflects the reality that “how we use land matters,” said ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “Land use has an enormous impact on the long-term environmental viability of our urban areas. Climate change has elevated the need to rethink what and where we build,” Phillips said. “Clearly, with SB 375, California is taking a leading role in addressing the detrimental impact of sprawling development, and is seeking to improve urban growth patterns. It’s taking a meaningful step forward toward conserving land and energy, and preserving the environment.”

According to the report, the law has the potential to make a positive change in the growth patterns of California’s urban regions. “If implemented well, SB 375 would help California accommodate growth in ways that are economically sound, environmentally responsible, and socially beneficial,” the report says. “As such, SB 375 has the potential to improve the quality of life for Californians, and is one tool that can address a number of problems long associated with sprawl, including traffic congestion, the cost burden of housing, declining air quality, increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and the geographical imbalance between jobs and housing.”

The overarching anticipated benefit of SB 375 is its ability to provide more consistency, coordination, and clarity to the development process, which the land use industry needs to start recovering from the recession, the report says. It points to several benefits that SB 375 can bring through thoughtful implementation, including:

  • Rational alignment of regional planning, transportation, and environmental policy and funding;
  • mproved jobs-housing balance;
  • More certainty for developers on the desired direction for development;
  • Initiating reform for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA);
  • Flexibility for regional and local solutions; and
  • Improved efficiency and effectiveness for transit systems.

“Economically, SB 375 will help the state, communities, and developers meet the shifting market demand for housing, diversify the housing offerings on the market, allocate public resources more efficiently, and ensure a better of quality of life,” the report says. Specifically, SB 375 can help the state:

  • Accommodate a growing share of housing demand for first-time buyers and renters, as well as empty nesters;
  • Strive to create a  wider range of housing choices, and maintain a balance between infill and greenfield development;
  • Improve the allocation of transportation funds based on density and need;
  • Position both state and regional governments to be more competitive for federal resources, many of which are tied to more collaborative planning initiatives;
  • Promote healthier living environments that cut exposure to vehicle exhaust emissions and promote exercise through pedestrian-friendly design; and
  • Preserve and enhance a higher quality of life through more efficient municipal services and infrastructure.

The report offers several recommendations to maximize the effectiveness of SB 375 as a productive guide for development that benefits California’s communities. One major area considered critical to its success is transit certainty. The report notes that the coverage and efficiency of public transit – including buses, trains, light rail, and shuttles – must keep pace with the anticipated increase in urban and suburban density. “Improving the service levels and ongoing investment in transit capital improvements and operations creates transit certainty, a critical factor for supporting the growth of compact development,” the report states. Another “must” for successful implementation: proper alignment of policy and funding.  Among the factors to be considered are aligning public policy across all levels of government; aligning land use policies with demographic and market trends; and producing a transparent approvals process for public- and private-sector stakeholders.

Greater community engagement, communication, and dialogue could go far in building consensus around the positive impact that SB 375 can have in guiding growth, the report advises. “It is critical to ensure that residents and stakeholders understand the goals and anticipated benefits associated with the implementation of SB 375,” the report says.

Much of the debate surrounding SB 375 has been a result of misinterpretation of the legislation itself. SB 375 is not the first legislation from California that was initially seen as problematic but in the long run contributed to positive and progressive results. It is possible, the report says, for SB 375 to achieve similar benefits as Title 24, the state’s 30-plus year old law mandating improved building energy efficiency. That law is now viewed as helping to shift the state toward more sustainable land use decisions, and as contributing to significant energy cost savings for the state. “The better California does with SB 375 implementation, the greater the benefits will be,” the report says.

“SB 375 is consistent with the overall mission of ULI and what it has long advocated – the development of sustainable, thriving communities that:  provide a social framework for connecting people to places; respect environmental realities locally and globally; and compete effectively for economic vitality.”

To download the report, click here.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.