Big Structural Change: A Mixed-Methods Investigation into the Policy and Politics of Land Use and Transportation Infrastructure in California

Land use and transportation systems are critical determinants of vehicle miles traveled (VMT). But to attain the reductions that are necessary, (1) land use policy must allow for more compact development in existing urban areas so that more people can live closer to daily activities like work, school, and stores, and (2) transportation systems must provide viable options besides the automobile, and new investments in transportation infrastructure must align with the state’s multi-modal goals and VMT reduction targets rather than continue status quo investment patterns that prioritize automobility and highway expansion.

This research investigates these two crucial components of climate mitigation that have proven to be politically obstinate. Three studies will focus on the context in which land use and transportation policies are created – the "who, what, and why" of political influence – in order to better understand the barriers to and opportunities for policy change.