CLIMATE CHANGE ALERT! Regional Targets Advisory Committee Finalizes Its Recommendations To The California Resources Board Pursuant to Senate Bill 375

Last year, the Governor signed Senate Bill 375 – a landmark bill aligning regional land use, transportation, housing, and greenhouse gas reduction planning efforts. Senate Bill 375 required the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for “passenger vehicles and light trucks” for the years 2020 and 2035. These targets were to apply only to the 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (or “MPOs”). To assist CARB in setting these targets, Senate Bill 375 required CARB to create the Regional Targets Advisory Committee (“RTAC”). RTAC’s specific charge was to prepare a report for CARB’s consideration that recommended factors to be considered and methodologies to be used by CARB when setting regional greenhouse gas reduction targets.

In January of 2009, CARB appointed 21 members to RTAC. RTAC held its first public meeting on February 3, 2009 and its last meeting on September 16th. RTAC’s recommendations were finalized and submitted to CARB on September 29, 2009. CARB will use these recommendations to propose draft targets by June 10, 2010 and take action to set the targets by September 30, 2010.

RTAC submitted its recommendations in two parts: (1) recommendations for the target setting process and method, and (2) recommendations for implementation. This article highlights some of RTAC’s pertinent recommendations.

Target Setting Process and Method:

[bull] Development of Tools: Recommends working with a group of technical experts and practitioners from the land use and transportation sectors to develop a list of Best Management Practices (“BMP”). The BMP list consists of available land use and transportation policies and practices that will result in regional greenhouse gas reductions. These lists should ultimately allow local jurisdiction to make appropriate greenhouse gas reduction policy choices for Sustainable Community Strategies development. Recommends development of a BMP spreadsheet which would provide an assessment of the greenhouse gas emission reductions that may be achieved by implementing some or all of the policies identified on the BMP list. RTAC could not agree to recommend that all MPOs have the option of using the BMP list as the sole method of demonstrating compliance.

[bull] Use of Models: Recommends a 4-step process when using travel demand models and other modeling methods: (1) assessment and documentation of existing travel demand model capability and sensitivity; (2) incorporation of social equity factors in the target setting process to the extent modeling or off-modeling methodologies exist; (3) development of a model improvement program which is consistent with federal requirements and addresses identified modeling needs, including, if possible, housing affordability and other social equity factors; and (4) development of short range improvements and other methods to address modeling needs for first round target setting and Sustainable Community Strategies/Alternative Planning Strategy (“SCS/APS”) development. Note: As to (3) — Recommends that each MPO develop a multi-year program of improvements needed to address any modeling needs, including, as applicable, incorporation of relevant housing affordability and other social equity factors. Due to the regional uniqueness of each MPO, MPOs that do not identify model improvements to account for key factors and policies must provide an explanation for their decision to CARB.

[bull] Target Metrics: Recommends that regional targets be expressed as a percent per-capita greenhouse gas emission reduction from the 2005 base year. A current base year was decided upon over a future base year since it relies on recent and existing information. Recent Regional Transportation Plans have also used 2005 as a base year which would reflect current conditions between regions. This recommended form of metric will address growth rate differences between the regions. This would also give credit to regions that have taken early actions and, therefore, already have a low level of greenhouse gas emissions per capita.

[bull] Accounting for Interregional Travel: Recommends 4 different approaches for the following types of travel: (1) begin in one MPO – end in another MPO; (2) begin outside of the MPO – through an MPO – end outside of the MPO; (3) begin in one MPO – end outside of an MPO; and (4) begin outside of an MPO and end in an MPO. RTAC recommends that (1) MPOs split the travel equally in the first scenario, (2) an MPO, generally, should not be responsible for through trips, and (3) an MPO should take responsibility for half of a trip that either started or ended within the MPO.


[bull] Housing and Social Equity: Recommends including social equity practices that avoid social consequences that will lead to greenhouse gas reduction into the BMP and avoiding adverse social consequences of changing land use patterns should be addressed and specifically avoided in the SCS/APS submitted by MPOs. (For example, displacement, gentrification and increased housing costs.)

[bull] Funding: RTAC has acknowledged that one of the state’s biggest challenges in meeting its goals under Senate Bill 375 is lack of funding.
— For local governments, most will amend their general plans and zoning to implement the SCS adopted by their MPOs, but the Bill does not appropriate any new funds for this purpose. Infill areas must also address their deficiencies in existing infrastructure – such as sewage, water capacity, bike lanes and fire equipment. The current economy has led to cut backs to planning staff and reduced funding for redevelopment and transportation.
— Recommends state action, in terms of funding, to support the implementation of this Bill – transit funding, planning funding, local transportation system funding, redevelopment funding, and affordable housing funding.
— Recommends advancing federal legislation reform to ensure that California meets its goals in implementing Senate Bill 375 and to encourage improved land use planning nationwide.

[bull] Incentives: Recommends rewarding regions that exceed targets when implementing Senate Bill 375. Considers the following: statewide award program similar to LEED; additional regulatory relief – such as environmental review; monetary grants from future Cap and Trade program revenues; discretionary funding awards for infill amenities – streetscapes, downtown parks or public spaces; financial rewards for innovative programs like ZIP cars or bicycle sharing programs; and rewards for collaborative planning with other MPOs.

RTAC will hold future public meetings to review and evaluate the results of the MPO scenario analyses for the target setting process. Watch for future Climate Change Alerts as we keep you updated on the progress of CARB’s target setting process and the implementation of Senate Bill 375.


If you have any questions concerning the content of this Legal Alert, please contact the following from our office, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

Karina K. Terakura | 916.321.4500