On October 28th 2011, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) approved the first sustainable communities strategy (SCS) under Senate Bill 375. A new report (pdf), San Diego and SB 375: Lessons from California’s First Sustainable Communities Strategy, co-authored by Eliot Rose, Autumn Bernstein, and Stuart Cohen raises several key issues for consideration in regional planning and current limitations of transportation funding structures.
SB 375 in itself is not a silver bullet for the creation of sustainable communities across California; however, as Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs) are being updated with Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCSs), long standing issues with federal and state regulatory barriers and local implementation challenges will become increasingly apparent. Policy in Motion would like to emphasize the need to question the definition of “SB 375 Success” in terms of how the process in itself is laying the foundation for the State’s next evolution of legislation and reforms to funding structures, environmental review, and land use/transportation planning. As in any process, success is a moving and growing target toward a greater vision, and continual progress along that journey is a necessary component requiring evaluation – meaning that no matter what a plan outlines today there needs to be a mechanism in place to monitor the impacts from the land use and transportation strategies laid out those plans, and some form of consistency in monitoring outcomes to ensure performance measurement objectives are being evaluated. State leadership providing clear guidance, expectations, resources, and communication will be integral for MPO success in the SB 375 journey.
For more information on the greater vision and challenge in fostering “people-oriented development” and sustainable communities, check out Lauren Michele’s recent book on Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32