Hing Wong, a San Francisco regional planner and California state officer of the American Planning Association, had an important op-ed in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. Wong makes the case that land-use planning is another area in which California has the potential to lead the climate fight, beyond its landmark focus on auto emissions and limiting CO2 emissions:
Achieving these goals will require state and local governments to do more than tighten emission standards for cars and trucks. It will require an integrated effort from state, regional and local governments that considers how community and land-use planning policy decisions can help.
To guide local government agencies in planning-related decisions that respond to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the American Planning Association's California chapter has published its recommended policy principles for climate change response.
City and county governments have the ability and opportunity to help California achieve these goals because they are the agencies responsible for creating local community land planning policy. Many cities and counties in Northern California have already done so with impressive results, and even more are following their lead.
Wong goes on to cite several regional examples that have contributed to economic growth, aesthetic beauty, resource conservation and climate-friendly growth-- exactly the kind of mix that the NRDC's Kaid Benfield wrote passionately about over at the Switchboard the other day. He also notes that several other governments are revamping their general plans to encompass smarter growth, and that regional planners are following suit.
Between bottom-up guidance like the California APA's model principles, and the good-cop/bad-cop efforts of Attorney General Jerry Brown to encourage and pressure reticient planners who might otherwise focus on the rapid-growth bottom line of traditional developer interests, California is fast becoming the epicenter of a smart-growth revolution. Others around the country are following suit, using a mix of existing laws and innovative policies to drive this critical conversation forward.