California planning low-carbon oasis where cars aren't king
The cornerstone of California's pursuit of a low-carbon economy is a 2006 law, known as AB32, which set the 2020 target.
After years of cajoling local authorities to build more homes near public transit - including a lawsuit to enforce one city to do so - the state in 2008 passed SB375, which requires its 18 metropolitan planning organizations to show how they will meet greenhouse gas reduction targets through integrated land use, housing and transportation.
"Going forward, state and federal transportation dollars can only be dedicated to projects that are consistent with the sustainable communities plan," said California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, author of SB375.
"I call it a hard carrot. It's a carrot, but if it hits you, it might sting," he said, adding that California is now the leader in sustainable development in the country.
'PACKED LIKE SARDINES'
The profile of the typical new home in California is being flipped on its head. Between 1985 and 2010, 61 percent of all houses built in the state were single-family homes and 39 percent were multi-family ones, such as condominiums and apartment buildings.
Between 2010 and 2035, Southern California planners project, 68 percent will be multi-family and 32 percent single family.
There is ample room for skepticism. California's exurbs mushroomed during the last economic boom, turning now-bankrupt Stockton into a Bay Area suburb with an hour and a half commute in each direction.
Building high-density communities will only alienate buyers, said Joel Kotkin,
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