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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Make It Work: Implementing SB 375


California passed its landmark climate change legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 32, in 2006, ushering in a new era in state policymaking. Faced with a challenging new environmental mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, state policymakers grappled with how to comply.

One result was the passage of another piece of landmark legislation in the state – Senate Bill (SB) 375 – in 2008.

SB 375 aims to achieve greenhouse gas reductions from land use and transportation through better coordination of local and regional development plans. The law requires that regions (through regional planning organizations, in cooperation with local governments) develop

“Sustainable Communities Strategies” to achieve more efficient land use and transportation by aligning some planning processes that traditionally had been disconnected. However, SB 375 does not require that local governments comply with the Sustainable Communities Strategies nor does it redirect or create new funding sources to support sustainable planning practices or projects.

This report identifies state and regional policies and programs that could support the objectives of SB 375. The Center for a Sustainable California (CSC) research team first evaluated the policy context surrounding SB 375. Secondly, the team identified policies (proposed and existing) from California and elsewhere that contribute to accomplishing climate policy goals by linking land use and transportation. In addition, the team interviewed a number of stakeholders, representing various organizational perspectives, to ask for their views on a range of potential state and regional policy actions aimed at strengthening SB 375 implementation. Finally, the team developed this report, to present cumulative research findings on policy challenges that threaten to undermine effective SB 375 implementation and to recommend a set of priority actions to address these challenges.

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