The Science Behind Sustainable Communities Strategies

Event Date

Sierra Hearing Room, CalEPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA

Event Overview

California’s landmark Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Law (Senate Bill 375) ushered in a new era of regional planning. Passed in 2008, SB 375 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better coordination and alignment of regional transportation planning with local land use planning. Each of the state’s eighteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) was charged with creating a “Sustainable Communities Strategy” (SCS) as part of their Regional Transportation Plan. The SCS contains land use, housing, and transportation strategies that, if implemented, would allow the region to achieve state defined targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions from passenger vehicle use.

Rich conversations on best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing other important social, environmental, and economic priorities have been sparked in regions across California as part of the first round of SCSs. But what does the science say about the proposed strategies?

This seminar provided an objective review of the empirical evidence on how effective various transportation and land use strategies are at reducing vehicle miles traveled (and thus greenhouse gas emissions). In a multi-year project funded by the Air Resources Board, a team of UC Davis, UC Irvine, and University of Southern California researchers examined a total of 23 strategies ranging from car-sharing services to access to bus and rail stations to changes in land use. The goal of the project was to strengthen the technical underpinnings of SB375 and to gain a clearer understanding of data gaps and research needs moving forward. This seminar will outline some of the most promising strategies to help inform development of and potential improvements to the models, tools, and information used by Metropolitan Planning Organizations, local governments, and others for SB 375 implementation. The scientific evidence for each strategy studied by the researchers is summarized in a series of policy briefs that are now available for download here.

For more information visit the Air Resources Board website here.

Event Category