Report: Smart growth could save Calif. $31B, cut GHGs

Posted on November 19, 2009

A study performed by TransForm, a California-based coalition of unions and nonprofits that works to create world-class public transportation and walkable communities in the Bay Area and beyond, finds that residents of the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego who have access to the best public transportation options are not only emitting far fewer greenhouse gas emissions on average, but also spending billions less on transportation than residents who live in communities where public transportation is scarce.

The report, "Windfall For All: How Connected, Convenient Neighborhoods Can Protect Our Climate And Safeguard California's Economy," also concluded that if all of the residents in the four regions studied lived in transportation-friendly communities, Californians would save $31 billion dollars per year on transportation costs and emit an average of 34 percent less greenhouse gases.

"This report provides hard evidence that SB375, California's groundbreaking law to promote more convenient walkable neighborhoods with more transportation choices has the power to act as an economic driver," said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm. "By reducing public and private transportation costs and increasing revenues to local governments, SB375 can help put dollars back in the pockets of consumers and local governments."

Overall, the findings indicate that of the four regions studied, the Bay Area is saving the most on transportation costs due to its smart growth communities, with Los Angeles coming in a close second.

TransForm's report also includes case studies of diverse communities including those in San Jose, Windsor and Marin County that are putting smart growth policies into practice, with notable results.  

In order to fully realize the environmental and economic benefits of SB 375 identified in "Windfall for All," TransForm concludes that there needs to be a shift in policies and investments to support smart growth development and public transportation.

SB375 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to propose draft emission reduction targets related to planning and transportation for California's 18 metropolitan regions by June 10, 2010. CARB must adopt final targets by September 30, 2010. Transform is releasing the results of its report November 19, 2009 at the CARB meeting in Sacramento.


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