Examining California‘s SB 375‘s High Density "Sustainable Communities Strategy" and What it Means for Cities with their Own Low Density Strategies to Curb the Excesses of Growth: Separate Paths to a Better World?
In 2006, the State of California adopted a pioneering effort by a mere state to address global warming. The law was known in California as Assembly Bill 32. It sought to mandate that local governments in California reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Beyond 2020, the law required greater further reductions at specified milestones. The methods adopted to achieve these reductions were set forth in California Senate Bill 375 which, among other strategies, required regional governments in California to herd local governments into adopting an anti-sprawl approach to growth. That strategy is called the "Sustainable Communities Strategy." It provides a series of incentives for compact, high density development. Many California local governments have adopted anti-growth measures over the years, but some seem completely incompatible with high density developments. This paper examines these differing urban planning strategies to visualize how these laws will interact and co-exist with each other in the near future. It does so by focusing upon one unique Northern California city, the City of Alameda, with grass-roots laws seeking to keep it in the past and forward looking regional planning efforts [crafted by the Bay Area's Metropolitan Planning Agencies, i.e. the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MTC)] seeking to thrust it into the future.