California Policy Education/Webinars SB 375

Policy “Makers and Shakers” Celebrate at Policy in Motion Open House

Guests enjoy tours of Policy in Motion's urban office space and garden patio

Lauren ‘Iolani Michele was joined by dozens of California’s policy “makers and shakers” on Tuesday, August 10th in celebrating the completion of her MS thesis and graduate degree from UC Davis, launch of her new policy analysis & education business, personal and professional name change, and all the health & happiness that 2010 has brought this year.  We all influence policy – whether in its initial formation as an idea, the evolution of an idea over time and discussion, the final stages of making an idea a reality, or forming choices around ideas made for or by us.

Anyone can be a policy “taker,” but an effective policy process relies upon “makers” and “shakers”

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Policy "makers and shakers" enjoy good conversation, local wines, and raw-vegan appetizers

Policy advisors, board/commission members, SB 375 implementation staff, and committee consultants  from the State of California’s Department of Transportation, Energy Commission, Air Resources Board, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Institute of Transportation Studies,  and Senate Transportation and Housing Committee had an opportunity to exchange ideas with prominent NGO leaders from TransForm, ClimatePlan, and Environmental Defense Fund; consultants from leading environmental and transportation planning firms such as Fehr & Peers; and Sacramento’s local/regional planners from the County, Air Quality Management District, and SACOG.

“Lauren, you add so much to the transportation policy dialogue. Thanks.”

~ Sarah Michael, Advisor to Commissioner Boyd, California Energy Commission

Raw-vegan appetizers prepared by raw chef Margaret Gomes with local Sacramento ingredients
Lauren Michele features 2010 Transportation Research Board poster on “California’s SB 375 Implementation”

California Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash SB 375

California Proposes “Ambitious & Achievable” SB 375 GHG Reduction Targets for Regions

Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released a report on the “Proposed Regional Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets Pursuant to Senate Bill 375.”

The report, required under SB 375 (Steinberg, 2008), proposes targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and 2035 associated with passenger vehicle travel in the state’s eighteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), including the four largest: Southern California, San Diego, the Bay Area, and the Sacramento region. The Air Resources Board will consider adopting these targets in September.

Today’s press release from ARB stated that:

“These proposed targets are ambitious, achievable and very good news for Californians” and “Regions that meet the targets will receive incentives in the form of easier access to federal funding, and streamlined environmental review for development projects.”

Policy in Motion founder Lauren Michele provides a summary of the proposed targets here.

For the four largest MPOs, the report outlines proposed targets of per capita greenhouse gas reductions of 7 to 8 percent by 2020, and between 13 and 16 percent in 2035 compared to 2005 levels.

A separate approach was developed for the eight planning organizations that comprise the San Joaquin Valley, establishing placeholder targets of a 5 percent reduction in per capita emissions in 2020, and a 10 percent reduction in 2035.For California’s four largest MPOs, the report outlines proposed targets of per capita greenhouse gas reductions of 7 to 8 percent by 2020, and between 13 and 16 percent in 2035 compared to 2005 levels.

Targets for the remaining six Metropolitan Planning Organizations – the Monterey, Butte, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta, and Lake Tahoe regions – reflect each region’s current plans for 2020 and 2035.

California Policy Education/Webinars Research SB 375

Policy in Motion Open House: Tuesday, August 10th

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Read highlights at Policy “Makers and Shakers” Celebrate at Policy in Motion Open House


Fellow Policy Makers & Shakers,

Please join me in celebrating the start of my new business – Policy in Motion, new name – Lauren ‘Iolani Michele, and new live/work unit in Sacramento’s vibrant mixed-use hub.  In an affirmation of Policy in Motion’s sustainability as a business and in its vision for community development through effective transportation and climate policy, the August 10th Open House evening will highlight:

  • Wines from my homeland of Sonoma County
  • Transportation Research Board Poster on “California’s SB 375 Implementation”
  • Raw-vegan appetizers prepared by raw chef Margaret Gomes with local ingredients
  • Tours of Policy in Motion’s upstairs office and Lauren Michele’s urban garden patio
  • “Wall of Policy Reform” featuring guests’ ideas for sustainable community development
  • Good company with other policy visionaries!

For those of you who have not yet placed an RSVP: please do so by this Thursday, August 5th – you can stop by anytime between 5:30pm and 9pm to enjoy good company with familiar faces and new friends working to advance sustainable community planning whether through local, regional, state or federal policy.


Lauren ‘Iolani Michele

Principal / Owner

Policy in Motion | WBE/DBE

530.848.4342 | |

*Please note that my last name and email address have changed*

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

Education/Webinars Local Government Publications SB 375

California Institute for Local Government Resources

Funded in part by the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities, the Institute for Local Government‘s mission is to “promote good government at the local level by promoting well-informed, ethical, inclusive, effective and responsive local government in California through innovative resources, tools and programs.

Recent Publications Include:

    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.