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SB 375 & Climate Change

What is SB 375?

In 2008, California passed Senate Bill 375 (SB 375), the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles and light trucks through integrated transportation, land use, housing, and environmental planning. Under the law, SJCOG must develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) along with the RTP, and the Plan must show that it meets greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

What else is required in developing the SCS?

According to SB 375, "Each metropolitan planning organization shall prepare a sustainable communities strategy, including the requirement utilizing the most recent planning assumptions considering local general plans and other factors. The Sustainable Communities Strategy shall:

  1. Identify the general location of uses, residential densities, and building intensities within the region;
  2. Identify areas within the region sufficient to house all the population of the region, including all economic segments of the population, over the course of the planning period of the regional transportation plan taking into account net migration into the region, population growth, household formation and employment growth;
  3. Identify areas within the region sufficient to house an eight-year projection of the regional housing need for the region;
  4. Identify a transportation network to service the transportation needs of the region;
  5. Gather and consider the best practically available scientific information regarding resource areas and farmland in the region;
  6. Consider the state housing goals specified in Sections 65580 and 65581;
  7. Set forth a forecasted development pattern for the region, which, when integrated with the transportation network, and other transportation measures and policies, will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks to achieve, if there is a feasible way to do so, the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by the state board;
  8. Allow the regional transportation plan to comply with the Federal Clean Air Act.”

Greenhouse gas emissions – what’s that?

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. The natural greenhouse effect is what enables life to flourish on our planet. Greenhouse gas emissions also enter the atmosphere as a result of human activities, such as burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.

Why is lowering greenhouse gas emissions important?

Lowering greenhouse gas emissions supports public health, reduces energy consumption, and protects the environment. Included in the Plan are strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing miles on the road, supporting a switch to clean energy vehicles, and creating more options for how to get around – including taking public transit, walking, or using a bicycle instead of a car, when possible.

What are greenhouse gas reduction targets?

Under SB 375, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) sets regional targets for greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicle use. In 2010, CARB established these targets for 2020 and 2035. In San Joaquin County, these targets are currently measured against 2005 air quality levels and are as follows:

  • A 5% per capita reduction target for the year 2020
  • A 10% per capita reduction target by 2035

The SJCOG 2014 RTP/SCS met the required per capita reductions.  As of December 2016, these targets are under review by CARB. It is anticipated that the 2018 RTP/SCS will be required to meet any updated targets.

How does the Plan impact greenhouse gas emissions?

Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions accounting for 45 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions, most of which comes from personal vehicles. An integrated transportation and land use plan can help change transportation patterns by reducing how much people need to drive. In turn, this helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

Some of the strategies in the Plan include:

  • Encouraging development near existing and future public transit investments;
  • Facilitating an improved jobs/housing balance; and
  • Enhancing public health through active transportation projects.

How is the San Joaquin region doing with meeting our other air quality requirements? 

Currently, the San Joaquin Valley is designated as “nonattainment” for meeting requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act. Therefore, transportation plans and programs must satisfy Federal transportation conformity regulations, which state that:

  • The RTP must pass an emissions budget test using a budget found adequate by the Environmental Protection Agency for transportation conformity;
  • The latest planning assumptions and emissions models for use in conformity determination must be employed;
  • The timely implementation of transportation control measures specified in the applicable air quality implementation plans; and
  • Interagency and public consultation.
 
To learn more, please see Air Quality.

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