Top 5 Ways SGC Can Score Big for California


With over $100 million now dedicated in the State Budget to sustainable communities and 20% of future cap and trade revenues secured, our attention turns to the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) who will establish guidelines and oversee the implementation of this program.

The vision of the Strategic Growth Council for “healthy, vibrant, and resilient California communities” is one that lends itself to innovation, partnership, and empowerment of those communities the Council seeks to activate.  This Sustainable Communities Cap and Trade Program is a perfect opportunity to advance the vision that SGC has set forth to accomplish.

Communities and the elements that make them vibrant are complex – as much as we would like to have the same silver bullet solution across the state, the reality is that we need a funding program as robust and innovative as the communities it will serve. Likewise, we need to have a Strategic Growth Council that understands the complexities of land use, transportation, and travel behavior interactions and how to implement on the ground transformation. And that’s not simple despite how much we would all wish it to be. We need regional expertise and local engagement on our side – and that means an SGC that empowers and leverages those technical and political resources. Unfortunately, the statute passed by the Legislature to guide the spending of the cap and trade funds is ambiguous and incomplete.  It will be up to the SGC to fill in the gaps to make this program an effective complement to SB 375 and a transformative force in California land use and transportation policy.

Considering these 5 approaches could help SGC score big for California:

1) Evaluate proposals based on the regional GHG impact of the transportation investments.

2) Encourage and reward projects that are integrated with land use changes. Land use is where the big gains in GHG reduction can be found and this linkage is at the heart of SB 375. Isolated, single purpose projects don’t get the GHG reductions we need.

3) Provide local flexibility in project design. The state shouldn’t try to limit the types of projects local governments develop so long as they reduce GHG emissions and contribute to community goals.

4) Develop rigorous modeling and monitoring protocols and make the results public. Allowing flexibility at the local level works if we evaluate to a common goal—reducing regional GHG emissions—and select projects on that basis.

5) Empower the regions. SB 375 requires regions to develop and implement workable plans.  Cap and trade dollars should support those goals and help the regional agencies do the job the state has given them.
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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