Categories
Federal Policy NewsFlash Public Transit

Senate Banking Committee Marks Up Bipartisan “Public Transportation Safety Act of 2010”

DOT 127-10
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Contact: Paul Griffo
Tel: 202-366-4064

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Commends Senate Banking Committee for Unanimous Vote Adopting Historic Transit Safety Legislation
Senate Banking Committee Marks Up Bipartisan ‘Public Transportation Safety Act of 2010”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today commended the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee for reporting out the Obama Administration’s transit safety bill, the first transit-specific safety bill ever sent to Congress by any administration, by a unanimous vote.  The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

Secretary LaHood applauded Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Ranking Member Richard Shelby and Subcommittee Chairman Robert Menendez for taking the first major step in passing the Administration’s Public Transportation Safety Act of 2010, a bill that would end the current prohibition against the Federal Transit Administration from directly overseeing safety programs.

Secretary LaHood sent the Administration bill to Congress in December 2009.

“I want to thank the Banking Committee for working together to move this historic legislation forward,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Safety is the Department of Transportation’s number one priority and we look forward to working with the full Senate and House to get this bill passed and signed into law.”

“Today’s milestone is the first major step in untying the hands of the Federal Transit Administration and allowing us to implement national safety standards,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.  “While transit is a safe way to travel, we still see too many preventable accidents, including fatal accidents.  We need these tools to ensure that transit remains safe as our systems age and experienced employees retire in increasing numbers.”

The legislation, if passed, will authorize the Department of Transportation to establish federal safety standards for rail transit systems, reversing a prohibition that has been in effect since 1965.

In addition to this bill, Secretary LaHood announced the formation of the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) on June 23 of this year. The 20 individuals who will initially serve on TRACS represent all geographic regions in the U.S. and include experts from state transit agencies of all sizes, state safety oversight organizations, labor unions, and industry associations.

The recommendations of TRACS will help FTA develop new policies and practices and, should FTA be given authority to promulgate new transit safety requirements, new regulations for enhancing rail transit safety.

Categories
Education/Webinars

Free Webinar on “Climate Change: Mastering the Public Health Role”

American Public Health Association Invites You to a Webinar,

“Looking Ahead: Advancing the Public Health Response to Climate Change”

Public health professionals are facing new challenges as the science linking climate change and human health risks continues to mount.  In fact, many U.S. communities as well as those abroad are already facing health, disease, and preparedness problems that a changing climate brings to the forefront.  Through a diversity of speakers and leading experts, this webinar series explores the impact of climate change on human health, the role public health does and should play in confronting climate change, the challenges of communicating such risks to the public, and much more.

Join us for the sixth and final webinar in this year’s series.  This session will cover the policy outlook and public health perspective of climate change, the continuing role for the public health community in confronting the challenges of climate change, and what the future may hold.

June 30, 2010

1:00 pm-2:00 pm EDT

Welcome and introductory remarks by APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

Moderator: George Luber, PhD

Associate Director for Global Climate Change, CDC, NCEH

Part 1:

Presenter: Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH

Assistant Secretary for Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Part 2:

Presenter: Gina McCarthy

Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Participants must register to participate in this webinar.  Please click here to register.

Please forward this invitation to other interested colleagues. We look forward to your participation on June 30th.  If you are unable to view the live webcast, the presentations are available on APHA’s Environmental Public Health section of the website.  An application is being submitted to award up to 1.0 Continuing Education Contact Hours (CECH) for certified health education specialists (CHES). SOPHE, including its chapters, is a designated multiple event provider of CECHs by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. **Fees apply for CHES credits

Categories
GHG Reduction Local Government NewsFlash Transportation Funding

HUD Announces $100 Million Available Under New Sustainable Regional Planning Grant Program

HUD No. 10-133
Andrea Mead
(202) 708-0685
FOR RELEASE
Thursday
June 24, 2010

HUD SECRETARY DONOVAN ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION IN GRANTS AVAILABLE AS PART OF NEW SUSTAINABLE REGIONAL PLANNING GRANT PROGRAM

Announcement comes during speech to The Atlantic’s Future of the City Forum


WASHINGTON – During a keynote address to The Atlantic’s inaugural Future of the City Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced that HUD is launching a $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, the first of its kind designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation and building a clean energy economy.

The Regional Planning grants will be awarded competitively to multi-jurisdictional and multi-sector partnerships as well as regional consortia consisting of state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations. The funding was approved by Congress for the first time in HUD’s 2010 budget, as part of a $200 million fund for the agency’s new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. To read the full text of HUD’s funding announcement, visit HUD’s Sustainability website.

“At HUD, and across the Administration, we believe that the “future of the city” is tied to the future of the region-the cities, suburbs and rural areas that surround them, and that America’s ability to compete and create jobs in the 21st century depends on our metro regions,” said Donovan. “That is why I am proud to say we are taking another big step forward in the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage more sustainable development as I announce $100 million for our new Sustainable Regional Planning Grant program for regions to integrate economic development, land use, and transportation investments.”

“The Sustainable Communities Partnership is one part of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda, which aims to break down traditional silos and ensure that federal programs and policies across all agencies better respond to the unique needs of specific communities,” said Melody Barnes, President Obama’s Domestic Policy Adviser. “The Administration’s efforts aim to develop urban and metropolitan areas that are economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.”

The funding being announced today will support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic competitiveness and revitalization; social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; energy use and climate change; as well as public health and environmental impacts. The program places a priority on partnerships, including nontraditional partnerships including arts and culture, philanthropy, and bringing new voices to the regional planning process.

The program will support a number of activities related to the development and implementation of integrated long-range regional plans including, but not limited to:

  • identifying affordable housing, transportation investment, water infrastructure, economic development, land use planning, environmental conservation, energy system, open space, and other infrastructure priorities for the region;
  • establishing performance goals and measures;
  • providing detailed plans, policies, and implementation strategies to be implemented by all participating jurisdictions over time to meet planning goals;
  • engaging residents and stakeholders substantively and meaningfully in the development of the shared vision and its implementation.

The program builds on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy. Guided by six Livability Principles, the Partnership is designed to remove the traditional silos that exist between federal departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities.

Recognizing that areas are in different stages of achieving sustainability, HUD established two funding categories for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. Category 1 Funds can be used to support the preparation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development. Category 2 Funds can be used to support efforts to fine-tune existing regional plans so that they address the Partnership’s Livability Principles, to prepare more detailed execution plans for an adopted Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, and limited predevelopment planning activities for catalytic projects. Of the funds available, $2 million will be reserved for capacity support grants distributed separately, and not less than $25 million will be awarded to regions with populations of less than 500,000.

Ultimately, this regional planning initiative will provide a blueprint for public and private investment decisions that will support a more sustainable future for a region. The size of grants awarded will be determined by the size of the applicants geographic area, whether a large metropolitan region or a smaller rural community. Grant applications, which will be reviewed not only by HUD, but also by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, are due August 23, 2010.

To demonstrate HUD’s commitment to listening and learning, HUD issued an advance Notice of Funding Availability in February 2010, which was posted on the Federal Register for 21 days for public comment and feedback. Many of the comments received through that process where integrated into the final Notice.

In addition, Secretary Donovan and HUD are committed to providing the highest level of transparency possible as the Office of Sustainable Communities works to streamline federal investments. HUD’s new sustainability website will allow tax payers to see where funds are being spent and hold federal leaders accountable, and for local partners to access valuable information and resources.

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HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

Categories
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: http://www.visioncalifornia.org/reports.php.

Categories
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, CoolConnections.org, 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.

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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:  http://arb.ca.gov/cc/sb375/meetings/meetings.htm

Categories
Federal Policy GHG Reduction Local Government Transportation Funding

EPA to Provide $10 million for Communities to Combat Climate Change

Release date: 06/08/2010

Contact Information: Dave Ryan (News Media Only) Ryan.dave@epa.gov 202-564-7827 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available up to $10 million in grants to local governments to establish and carry out initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Climate Showcase Communities program, EPA expects to award approximately 25 cooperative agreements ranging from $100,000 to $500,000, with approximately five percent of the funds ($500,000) being made available specifically for tribal governments.

Local governments, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, and inter-tribal consortia are eligible for grants to create sustainable community actions that can be used elsewhere, generate cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions and improve the environmental, economic, public health, and social conditions in a community. A 50 percent cost share is required for recipients, with the exception of tribal governments and intertribal consortia, which are exempt from matching requirements under this grant.

The grant program is administered by EPA’s Local Climate and Energy Program, an initiative to assist local and tribal governments to identify, implement, and track policies and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their operations and surrounding communities. Over the course of the grant program, EPA will offer training and technical support to grant recipients, and share lessons learned with communities across the nation. This is the second round of funding for the Climate Showcase Communities program. Last year, EPA selected 25 projects to receive $10 million in grants.

Proposals are due by July 26, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Grants are expected to be awarded in February 2011.

More information on the grants: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/showcase

Categories
Federal Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning

American Power Act Will Create Clean Transportation Options

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 2010

AMERICAN POWER ACT WILL CREATE CLEAN TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

Senator Carper, Business Leaders, Transportation Advocates Praise New Investments for Clean Transportation Options in Kerry-Lieberman Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) joined business leaders and Transportation for America, the largest, most diverse coalition working on transportation reform, to support key provisions of the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act (APA) that creates a new funding stream for investments in clean transportation options that will create jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on oil.

“If we want to get serious about reducing our dependence on oil and cleaning the air we breathe, we have to find ways to allow people to get out of our cars,” said Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE). “We have to provide clean transportation alternatives.  I practice what I preach by taking the train from my home in Wilmington, Delaware to work in Washington, D.C. almost every day but for too many Americans mass transit isn’t a viable option.  We have to change that dynamic.  That’s why I am pleased Senators Kerry and Lieberman have included my CLEAN TEA legislation in the American Power Act. This robust investment puts us on the right path to reduce transportation emissions and oil consumption and improve our nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.  These investments will make us healthier, less dependent on oil, and spur job creation and innovation.”

The proposal from Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), offers the most substantial support for the transportation sector of any climate and energy legislation to date.  Roughly 70 percent of oil consumed in the U.S. and one third of climate-harming emissions come from the transportation sector.  The APA invests revenues generated from oil refineries in building new clean transportation options and maintaining our existing transportation system.

“America’s oil addiction is a threat to our national security, our economy and our environment,” said James Corless, director of Transportation forAmerica. “The status-quo is unsustainable.  The transportation provisions in the American Power Act will create jobs, spur growth of small businesses and American industry and make it easier and more affordable for Americans to get around.  We strongly support these provisions and believe they should be funded at a higher level to ensure they achieve the greatest possible impact.”

The BP disaster is a devastating reminder that every gallon of oil saved not only benefits the planet, but also s bolsters national security and the economy. The transportation provisions of the bill would provide states and local communities with resources needed to reduce this dependency by providing consumers with safe, clean and affordable options for public transportation, walking and bicycling, as well as better-managed, less congested highways.

“Broward County and thousands of local governments across the country have been embracing the types of transportation strategies included in the American Power Act as a way to improve our economy, increase transportation choices, and create healthier, more sustainable communities, said Kristin Jacobs, County Commissioner, Broward County Florida. “The biggest challenge in implementing our plans, of course, is funding, which is why we’re pleased to see significant resources available through this legislation for states and local communities.”

“These provisions in the American Power Act will support innovations to keep America competitive, create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship and small businesses, and strengthen our economy, in part by expanding the use of ITS technologies to improve transportation system efficiency.  While we applaud the provisions, we believe that all revenues raised from the transportation sector should be reinvested into our nation’s transportation system to create a more financially and environmentally sustainable transportation future.”

CONTACT:

COSABETH BULLOCK, 202-478-6128

CBULLOCK@MRSS.COM

PAULA CHRIN DIBLEY, 202-478-6138

PCHRIN@MRSS.COM

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TRANSPORTATION FOR AMERICA (T4) is the largest, most diverse coalition working on transportation reform today.  Our nation’s transportation network is based on a policy that has not been significantly updated since the 1950’s.  We believe it is time for a bold new vision — transportation that guarantees our freedom to move however we choose and leads to a stronger economy, greater energy security, cleaner environment, and healthier America for all of us.  We’re calling for more responsible investment of our federal tax dollars to create a safer, cleaner, smarter transportation system that works for everyone.  www.t4america.org

Categories
Federal Policy Public Transit Transportation Funding

StreetsBlog DC: $2 Billion in Emergency Transit Operating Aid

Policy in Motion Note:

This week marks both the one-year anniversary for dc.streetsblog.org and the transitioning of the organization’s Capitol Hill coverage by Elana Schor.  Thanks for all the great coverage Elana and good luck at Greenwire!

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The following is a StreetsBlog Capitol Hill article by Elana Schor on May 25:

Transit agencies forced to raise fares or cut service to close budget gaps would be eligible for $2 billion in emergency operating funds under legislation unveiled today by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and seven other Democratic senators, including two members of the party’s leadership.

harry_reid_christopher_dodd_max_baucus_charles_schumer_richard_durbin_2009_8_4_16_40_23.jpgSens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), left, Charles Schumer (D-NY), right, and Dick Durbin (D-IL), second from right, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). (Photo: AP)

The transit operating bill would authorize $2 billion in federal grants aimed at helping local transit agencies reverse already-imposed service cuts, fare increases, or worker layoffs — provided that those changes were forced by a shortfall in state or local transport budgets that took effect after January 1, 2009. Any agency planning future service cuts or fare hikes could use their grant money to stave off those moves until September 2011.

“While families continue to struggle to make ends meet, the last thing we should do is make it harder and more expensive for people to get to work,” Dodd said in a statement. “This bill will prevent disruptive service cuts and help put money back in the pockets of families when they need it most.”

Those transit agencies not pursuing service cuts, fare hikes, or layoffs would be allowed to use the extra federal money for maintenance or repair of existing infrastructure. The transit operating funds would be distributed according to existing formulas, but the authorizing nature of the bill means that the money will also need to be appropriated in a separate piece of legislation.

Notably, the bill’s authorization remains in effect until September 2011, giving lawmakers more than a year to find suitable appropriations vehicles to which the operating aid bill can be attached.

In addition, the legislation’s short-term nature meets the conditions set by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which had endorsed extra operating aid with the provison that it not become a permanent fixture of the federal transit program.

Transportation for America (T4A), an infrastructure policy reform group that counts APTA as a member, hailed the bill’s release.

“With demand for public transportation service at its highest level in over 50 years, Congress must act to protect Americans who rely on transit from service cuts and fare hikes that threaten their ability to reach jobs and daily necessities,” T4A director James Corless said in a statement. “This act will help to preserve an economically essential service with a one-time, emergency infusion that will help to save jobs and access to jobs.”

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Categories
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; priggs@uli.org

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 (
www.uli.org) 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.

Categories
Education/Webinars Federal Policy GHG Reduction

Webinar: US DOT Report to Congress on GHG Reduction

“Transportation’s Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions”

Date:  Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Time:  1:00 – 2:30 PM

Registration opening soon at www.climate.dot.gov.

You are invited to participate in a webinar on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new report to Congress, “Transportation’s Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”  The report analyzes greenhouse gas emission levels and trends from all modes of transportation in the United States.  It then examines the full range of strategies available to reduce transportation GHGs.  These strategies include introducing low-carbon fuels, increasing vehicle fuel economy, improving transportation system efficiency, and reducing carbon-intensive travel activity.  While the report does not provide recommendations, it does analyze five categories of policy options for implementing the strategies: an economy-wide price signal, efficiency standards, market incentives, transportation planning and investment programs, and research and development.  Authors of the report will discuss its key findings, followed by time for questions and discussion.

Agenda:

Introductory remarks:

  • Beth Osborne, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy
  • Linda Lawson, Co-Chair of the US. DOT Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting and Director of the Office of Safety, Energy, and Environment in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation

Key findings:

  • John Davies, Environmental Protection Specialist, Federal Highway Administration
  • Joanne Potter, Principal, Cambridge Systematics
  • Tina Hodges, Program Analyst, Federal Transit Administration
  • A.J. Singletary, Environmental Policy Analyst, Office of the Secretary of Transportation

Questions and  discussion

Members of the research team will also be available for questions and discussion, including representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Research & Innovative Technology Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and Cambridge Systematics.

Link to the report: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/32000/32700/32779/DOT_Climate_Change_Report_-_April_2010_-_Volume_1_and_2.pdf

For more information, please contact JoAnna Smith at JoAnna.Smith@dot.gov.

Please forward to other interested colleagues.

This webinar is sponsored by the U.S. DOT Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting.  The Center is the focal point within U.S. DOT for information and technical expertise on transportation and climate change, working with its component organizations to coordinate related research, policies, and actions. The Center promotes comprehensive multimodal approaches to reduce GHG emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change on the transportation system, while advancing U.S. DOT’s core goals of safety, mobility, environmental stewardship, and security.