With $40 billion dollars of bond money for transportation, housing and parks at his disposal, Governor Schwarzenegger could reshape the state's growth patterns and make good on his promises to reduce greenhouse gases, argues William Fulton.
"Few governors have been in as powerful -- and enviable -- a position to shape California's future growth as Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is the most popular governor since Earl Warren and has more money to spend on rebuilding projects than anyone since Pat Brown, thanks to last year's passage of $40 billion in bond measures.
The governor also has a bold environmental plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 25% over the next 13 years. But, as his advisors acknowledge, Schwarzenegger cannot meet this target without rethinking the ways in which California grows. Fortunately, the bond money opens up unique opportunities for him to steer development in new directions. If he fails to capitalize on this chance to re-imagine California's growth, Schwarzenegger won't reach his greenhouse gas goal - and the state's future prosperity will be threatened.
The landmark climate change bill passed in September and signed by Schwarzenegger should be the foundation of a new vision. But that vision should go far beyond simply ramping up recycling and driving cleaner cars on the so-called hydrogen highway. It also should include ideas on how to level off the amount of driving in California. Among other things, that means building more affordable housing closer to where people work. That would increase densities in many urban areas, but, if done correctly, it also would help multiply travel options - rail, bus and foot - and lower the overall time people spend in their cars."