In 2008 California became the first state in the nation to set the course for integrated land use and transportation planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under Senator Steinberg’s SB 375 – for the last five years regional and local governments have been actively seeking funding sources to make the implementation of these Sustainable Communities Strategies not just a goal, but a reality.

Senator Steinberg’s proposal today is a step toward making that goal a reality.

Among the key supporters of this proposal are members of the Transportation Coalition for Livable Communities — including the League of California Cities, State Association of Counties, CALCOG, California Transit Association, and California Alliance for Jobs.  These groups have praised Senator Steinberg’s leadership on this critical issue and are committed to working with him as a more detailed proposal develops over the coming weeks.

The concepts outlined in Senator Steinberg’s Long Term Investment Strategy for Cap and Trade Revenue would empower regional and local governments to be leaders in implementing sustainable communities and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector — California’s largest source of GHG emissions.

Specifically, these elements of the proposal have the potential to make transformational changes in the planning and implementation of California’s sustainable communities:

  • A long-term funding source for SB 375 and integrated transportation and land use strategies;
  • A competitive ranking process to ensure that projects providing maximum feasible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are funded;
  • Regional allocation of funding through the Strategic Growth Council for Sustainable Communities Strategies implementation;
  • Funding for transit construction and operations based on GHG performance criteria;
  • Funding for complete streets and roadway retrofits, maintenance, and operations based on GHG performance criteria;
  • Funding for Electric Vehicle Deployment Program;
  • Funding for construction of California High Speed Rail

By recognizing that transportation and land use investments must be integrated together in order to maximize GHG emissions and foster sustainable communities, Senator Steinberg’s approach to allocating cap and trade revenues has the potential to go beyond just “transit-oriented development” to create more “people-oriented development.”

Integration is critical for ensuring that we use our limited financial resources in the most cost-effective way. Changes in land use patterns, if properly supported with transportation infrastructure, are vastly more important to achieving more livable communities—and GHG reductions—than any transportation investment alone.

California’s MPOs are all showing trends toward sustainability. The SB 375 Sustainable Communities Strategies have laid out a vision for more compact and diverse mixes of development patterns – combined with needed investments in new and existing transit systems, active transportation programs and projects, and complete streets maintenance and operations.

Senator Steinberg’s proposal would create an integrated funding source at the regional level so that local communities can compete to reduce GHG emissions — with strategies like transit-oriented development, land use planning, active transportation, high density mixed use development, and transportation efficiency and demand management projects.

SB 375 was created to help the State achieve the GHG reduction goals of AB 32. The four largest MPOs have all adopted Sustainable Communities Strategies to meet the GHG targets and are now ready to fund integrated projects that will improve communities for all, create new jobs, and protect the environment.

Cap and trade revenues will grow into billions of dollars per year in the next few years, so this source of revenue could provide the missing piece in achieving sustainable communities throughout California.

A performance-based approach to reducing GHG emissions is at the heart of cap and trade – it is a market mechanism geared toward innovation beyond what can be achieved purely through regulatory measures.  We have a real opportunity to use a unique funding source to re-create communities across the state.

We can do this through new sources of funding that are allocated at a regional level where the technical and policy expertise is greatest, and through competitive grants for local communities that are based on maximizing GHG reduction through combinations of transportation investments and land use changes needed to implement SB 375.

Lauren Michele, Principal/Founder, Policy in Motion.

Lauren earned a Master’s of Science degree from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies after working as a transportation planning professional at Fehr & Peers, a climate change policy analyst at the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington D.C., and an air quality program assistant at the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.  At the UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) she focused on the links between California’s Senate Bill 375 and developing federal climate/energy legislation and the transportation reauthorization.  Her academic work includes teaching undergraduate courses in Transportation Policy at UC Davis and experiential learning while living and researching multi-modal transportation planning in Europe.

Lauren currently serves as Policy Director for the Transportation Coalition for Livable Communities — an organization which includes the California Alliance for Jobs, California Transit Association, National Resources Defense Council, League of California Cities, State Association of Counties, and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Councils of Governments throughout the state. The Coalition promotes the investment of cap and trade revenue to address both the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32 and critical transportation system maintenance and operation needs that build on the framework of SB 375 and other GHG reduction strategies.

Her firm, Policy in Motion, specializes in sustainable transportation policy.  Policy in Motion offers planning practitioners, policy makers, and public agencies an understanding of how to integrate sustainability policy into transportation infrastructure and land use decisions.  Lauren Michele’s 2011 book, “Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32” explores the State’s evolving policies for sustainable living through transportation planning, and identifies how outdated regulatory frameworks must be aligned with supporting paradigm shifts if California is to move forward in a truly unified vision for “People-Oriented Development” and transportation.  Lauren’s 2012 film documentary, “Policy in Motion: Growing Beautiful Communities” continues to explore how an integrated approach to transportation planning and funding based on “People-Oriented Development” (POD) can improve community quality of life while meeting California’s environmental and economic goals. Policy in Motion’s book and film are available for purchase on-line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and


By Lauren Michele

Lauren Michele – Founder/Owner of Policy in Motion – is a policy consultant/advisor and communications strategist, specializing in progressive and non-partisan politics. She helps candidates and clients build campaigns, coalitions, and communication strategies. Lauren has 15 years of experience working with federal, state, and local government agencies; non-profit organizations; foundations; universities; and political/issue campaigns, including a Presidential Campaign and a California State Bond. Ms. Michele has over a decade of experience working virtually both in team and individual environments, with Policy in Motion offices in California. Policy in Motion’s mission is to promote the environmental, economic, and social well being of communities —fostering a sustainable future for all people and the planet.

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