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California’s Unusual Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases

When California’s S.B. 375 was passed in 2008, there were many skeptics. The law aimed to get metropolitan regions around the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions through changes to development form and transportation. (If it were a country, California would rank somewhere between the world’s tenth and twelfth largest economy, so its effect could be significant.)

In 2011, the California Air Resources Board set GHG emissions reduction targets by metro region for passenger vehicles (passenger vehicles account for almost a third of GHGs in the state). Eighteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations were then to develop “sustainable community strategies,” wherein integrated transportation, housing, and community development, working together, could help achieve those specific objectives.

The idea was that smart, sustainable community design, coordinated with transportation systems that integrated walkability, bicycles, and next generation public transit, could really make a difference. It’s honestly much too soon to tell whether this will work. But here’s a quick look at three prominent metropolitan regions and their responses to this mandate.
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