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California Government Screening Maps: An Investigation into Geographic Prioritization in Support of State Climate and Planning Goals

Abstract

The State of California (State) has multiple climate and planning objectives that underscore the importance of coordinating housing and transportation planning to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build sustainable communities. This research examines the extent to which the CalEnviroScreen 3.0, Healthy Places Index, Opportunity Area, and Low-Income Priority Populations Maps, which are used by different State agencies to direct housing and transportation resources, support such coordination to help meet State objectives. To the extent that these maps represent climate and planning goals, I examine housing production relative to the different geographic prioritizations as well transportation characteristics of proximity to transit and level of vehicle miles traveled (VMT). I conduct document, spatial, and quantitative analyses to understand the maps and their relationships to each other, housing production, and transportation characteristics. I find no correlation between geographic prioritization and housing production. There is a positive relationship between housing production and transit proximate and low VMT areas which can support coordinated land use and transportation that helps meet State climate and planning objectives. However, none of the maps include indicators related to these transportation characteristics that would intentionally direct resources towards those areas. I also find there is conflict between the maps’ conceptual bases which may lead to investments by different State agencies that are inconsistent with each other and/or with State climate and planning objectives. Solutions to these conflicts require a broad, multi-agency discussion around State climate and planning goals, and the existing mapping tools.

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