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Will CA's Famed Anti-Sprawl Law Block a Proposed Sacramento Project?

A proposed 2,700-acre development appears to conflict with the regional plan that complies with SB 375, a 2008 landmark law meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing vehice-miles-traveled. The decision rests with the Board of Supervisors.
January 25, 2013, 8am PST | Irvin Dawid
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The Sacramento regional transportation plan that guides transportation planning and spending within the six-county, 22-city metropolitan area that comprise the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and complies with the greenhouse gas emission reduction law known as SB 375 is called the "Metropolitan Transportation Plan/ Sustainable Communities Strategy".  It was adopted unanimously in April 2011 by the Board of Directors of SACOG, composed of representatives from the counties and cities within the region.

According to the law, the California Air Resources Board must approve the emissions reduction targets of the state's metropolitan planning organizations.  As their SB 375 webpage explains, the MPOs are required to prepare a "sustainable communities strategy (SCS) that demonstrates how their region will meet its greenhouse gas reduction target through integrated land use, housing and transportation planning".  This integration has resulted in the law being dubbed 'anti-sprawl' as the goal is to reduce driving.

Brad Branan writes about a new report prepared by SACOG to show how the proposed sprawling development in Cordova Hills on the eastern fringe of Sacramento County would comply with the regional transportation plan. In a word, it doesn't.

That  (Metropolitan Transportation) plan barely meets state requirements for limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and approval of Cordova Hills could "make it challenging" to meet a 2035 target, Mike McKeever of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments said in a letter to county supervisors.

The project is expected to have 8,700 housing units, 75 miles of trails as well as retail services and commercial and office space. (The developer) said he's committed to finding a private university for 6,000-plus students.

The central question facing the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is "How can supervisors who voted for the region's transportation plan now vote for a project that goes against it?"

SACOG used computer modeling to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled as a result of traffic from Cordova Hills.

The report also questions the need for the project. By 2035, housing supply in the region is expected to exceed demand by 200,000 units, SACOG estimates.

Failing to meet those greenhouse gas emission reductions in the regional plan "could threaten the county's eligibility for federal and state transportation funds, officials said."

The Board of Supervisors votes Jan. 29 on the project.

The vote by the supervisors on a project that seemingly conflicts with a regional plan may show one of the disconnects of SB 375 - as the law applies to the regional planning agency, not county board of supervisors or city councils within the metropolitan region - notwithstanding the fact that some elected leaders likely sit on both the regional and local governing bodies.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, January 24, 2013 in Sacramento Bee
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