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Friday, September 5, 2008

Smarter Smart Growth

Home Builders and Environmentalists are on the same side for a change, Hooray! I hope they did the math right... From the Los Angeles Times (full article here): "One issue everyone has been afraid to touch is land use," Steinberg says. "Everyone understands about using alternative fuel. But land use has been the third rail. AB 32 changed the equation because now land use has to be part of the solution to global warming. You can't meet our goal just with alternative fuels. You have to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled. "If people are going to drive -- and they are going to drive -- we need to plan in ways to get them out of their cars faster. That means shrinking -- not the amount of housing, not economic development, not growth -- but shrinking the footprint on which that growth occurs." ...Basically the bill would work like this: Each metropolitan region would adopt a "sustainable community strategy" to encourage compact development. They'd mesh it with greenhouse emissions targets set by the California Air Resources Board, which is charged with commanding the state's fight against global warming. And this is the key part: Transportation projects that were part of the community plan would get first dibs on the annual $5 billion in transportation money disbursed by Sacramento. (Projects approved before 2010 would be funded under the current system.) Another biggie: Residential home-builders would be granted relief from much of the environmental red tape for projects within the community plan. Local governments also would be required to expedite zoning and allow the builders to actually build. "We needed to create more certainty," Manning says. He adds that builders decided they'd rather help plan the strategy for the war on global warming than just wait for the state air board to act unilaterally. Environmentalists had the same attitude.

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