This page last reviewed April 1, 2014

Sustainable Communities

What's New

  • ARB staff's technical evaluation of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments' (SBCAG) Sustainable Communities Strategy
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  • Technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions submitted by the eight San Joaquin Valley MPOs new sign
Cars on a freewayThe Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (Sustainable Communities Act, SB 375, Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008) supports the State's climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through coordinated transportation and land use planning with the goal of more sustainable communities.

Under the Sustainable Communities Act, ARB sets regional targets for GHG emissions reductions from passenger vehicle use.  In 2010, ARB established these targets for 2020 and 2035 for each region covered by one of the State's metropolitan planning organizations (MPO).  ARB will periodically review and update the targets, as needed.

Each of California’s MPOs must prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" (SCS) as an integral part of its regional transportation plan (RTP).  The SCS contains land use, housing, and transportation strategies that, if implemented, would allow the region to meet its GHG emission reduction targets.  Once adopted by the MPO, the RTP/SCS guides the transportation policies and investments for the region.  ARB must review the adopted SCS to confirm and accept the MPO's determination that the SCS, if implemented, would meet the regional GHG targets.  If the combination of measures in the SCS would not meet the regional targets, the MPO must prepare a separate “alternative planning strategy" (APS) to meet the targets.  The APS is not a part of the RTP.

The Sustainable Communities Act also establishes incentives to encourage local governments and developers to implement the SCS or the APS.  Developers can get relief from certain environmental review requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) if their new residential and mixed-use projects are consistent with a region’s SCS (or APS) that meets the targets (see Cal. Public Resources Code §§ 21155, 21155.1, 21155.2, 21159.28.).

Sustainable Communities Strategies Review

San Joaquin Valley (SJV) 
  • ARB staff's update on SB 375 implementation in the Valley (Jan. 2013)
  • Fresno Council of Governments' technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions (Sept. 2012)
  • Technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions for all eight SJV MPOs (Feb. 2014) new sign

Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) new sign
Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)

  • Informational update on the Association of Bay Area Governments' and Metropolitan Transportation Commission's draft Sustainable Communities Strategy (June 2013)
  • Plan Bay Area, adopted July 2013 
  • ABAG/MTC's technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions (Nov. 2010)

Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG)
Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization (TMPO) and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA)
  • ARB staff's technical evaluation of the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization's (TMPO)/Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's (TRPA) Final Sustainable Communities Strategy (Apr. 2013) 
  • ARB Resolution accepting TMPO/TRPA's determination that the Final SCS would meet the region's GHG emissions reduction targets (Apr. 2013) 
  • Mobility 2035, adopted Dec. 2012
  • TMPO/TRPA's technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions (Oct. 2011)

Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)

Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)

Key SB 375-Related Documents

Sustainable Communities Target-Setting Activities

ARB Research to Support Sustainable Communities Strategies Implementation

  • ARB supports regional and local implementation of SB 375 through research.  ARB's research program includes investigation of the impacts of land use and transportation strategies on travel behavior, GHG emissions, air pollution exposure, equity, and health.
    • ARB research on policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles to support implementation of the Sustainable Communities Act. 

Related Information

If you would like more information on ARB activities related to Sustainable Communities:

For questions, please contact:

Jonathan Taylor, Chief
Transportation Planning Branch at (916) 322-0285