Sacramento, California – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) plans to tackle the issue of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by focusing on the growth of cities and transportation planning.

The ARB released a draft report marking the first major milestone in implementation of a law designed to improve the way cities and counties plan for growth and development. The report proposes targets for reducing GHG emissions in 2020 and 2035 associated with passenger vehicle travel in the state’s eighteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations, including Southern California, San Diego, the Bay Area, and the Sacramento region. The ARB Resources Board will consider adopting the targets at its board hearing in September.

The proposed targets are designed to help coordinate land use and transportation planning, producing sustainable strategies for growth and development in cities and regions over the next 25 years. The goal is for people to live close to where they work and play, reducing vehicle miles travelled and the resulting GHG emissions from the vehicles.

The targets also reflect demographic shifts and a changing housing market in California, as baby-boomers and many younger people are moving away from single-family suburban homes to smaller lots and multi-unit housing closer to city centres.

The report outlines proposed targets of per-capita GHG reductions of seven to eight per cent by 2020, and between 13 and 16 per cent in 2035, compared to 2005 levels. Once the targets are finalized, cities within each planning region will work together with their regional planning agency on developing sustainable strategies that outline where growth and development will occur, and how the transportation system can support that growth. Cities and municipalities will retain full local decision-making and zoning authority. Regions that meet the targets will receive incentives, including easier access to federal funding, and streamlined environmental review for development projects.

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