California talks a good game on land-use and climate change, but it's still a land of SUVs and sprawl

A decade ago, California lawmakers passed a groundbreaking law that was supposed to help fight climate change by curbing urban sprawl. Senate Bill 375 required the state’s 18 regional agencies to plan and design housing and transportation projects so people wouldn’t have to drive as much, cutting the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.

That was the goal, and all 18 regions have adopted a so-called Sustainable Communities Strategies. But California today is just as sprawling and car-dominated as it was a decade ago. A report released this week from the California Air Resources Board finds people are driving more, not less. The transportation sector is the state’s largest source of greenhouse gases, and emissions have risen despite the arrival of vehicles that burn less fuel per mile.

On paper, California may have committed to building more walkable, bike-able, transit-friendly communities. In practice, cities, counties and the state are failing to follow through.

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