Growth pressures along the coast, in the Sierra, and throughout the Central Valley are putting local communities, wildlife, public health, and our natural environment at risk. PCL and our partners are working to fundamentally change our land use patterns for the better.
We work every day for land use choices that reflect community values and make our state more livable, prosperous, and environmentally sustainable. We have empowered communities across California to effectively engage in local decisions about growth and development, and have championed policies to improve opportunities for public participation.

PCL sponsored and supported legislation protects our sparkling coastline, our flowing rivers, and special places like Lake Tahoe and the Big Sur Coast. We have defined and strengthened land use planning laws to recognize the importance of environmental protection, habitat conservation, and open space in communities throughout California. The League recently advocated for increased funding to support smart planning and public transportation options in the Legislature, and backed legislation to limit new development in flood and fire-prone areas.

Accomplishments: Land, Open Spaces, and Wildlife Protection

osprey fishing at El Dorado Park, City of Long Beach
  • Successful and ongoing work for land-use planning that will transform urban core neighborhoods into thriving, livable and healthy communities
  • Passage of the Integrated Waste Management Act (AB 939)
  • Passage of Proposition 117, which permanently banned trophy hunting of mountain lions
  • Passage if Proposition 70, which included $776 million for the acquisition and development of parks, open space, and coastal areas

Preserving Critical Lands within the Tejon Ranch

We partnered with four conservation organizations to permanently protect 240,000 acres of the historic Tejon Ranch. This landmark agreement with the Tejon Ranch Company preserves and ensures connectivity between the Coastal Range, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada, and Mojave Desert, allowing condors to soar above the peaks and cougars to traverse the ranges.

2016 Land Use & Transportation Goals

PCL and our partner organizations are fighting for better land use planning at the local level every day. Below are our 6 top strategies developed through membership vote at our 2015 PCL Environmental Symposium, “YES: Land Use Matters!”

1. Reward Local Plans that Meet Regional Metrics

Standardize and improve the quality of Sustainable Community Strategies (SCSs) and Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs), and create new incentives for local general plans and projects to comply with SCS/RTP objectives. New state policies and programs are emerging that support SCS outcomes including grants, but there is more to be done. To standardize and improve the quality of SCSs, the state should recommend a set of standardized performance indicators and monitoring protocols, and require inclusion of conservation strategies or “greenprints” in the plans. Specific suggestions for incentives for localities to support SCS and RTP objectives include:

  • Reliable funding for transit and affordable housing
  • Redevelopment reprise and bond
  • Other funding for SCS infrastructure (e.g. Cap and Trade) all be tied to consistent local plans. For example, One Bay Area Grants under the Association of Bay Area Governments/Metropolitan Transportation Commission SCS are available for local governments with consistent plans.

2. Enforce AB 857 (Wiggins)

Require that state funds be directed consistent with the state’s planning priorities, including promotion of infill and protection of environmental and agricultural lands, and that state spending be held accountable through timely submittal of reports to the State Finance Department.

AB 857 (Wiggins) codified as California Government Code section 65041.1 establishes state planning priorities including the promotion of infill development, protecting environmental and agricultural resources, encouraging efficient development patterns by using land efficiently and developing where roads and essential services and utilities are available.

3. Smart Transportation Funding

Make all discretionary and new transportation funding to local governments (e.g., Toni Atkin’s gas tax legislation) contingent on consistency between General Plans and Sustainable Community Strategies.

4. Quantify Costs of Sprawl

Develop full cost accounting that discloses the full costs of projects or plans that increase sprawl. Require differential impact fees for sprawl, and charge sprawl for Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in general plans.

Source for idea: CAPCOA: California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, “Model Policies for Greenhouse Gasses in General Plans: A Resource for Local Government to Incorporate General Plan Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” June 2009.

5. Urban Growth Boundaries

State enabling legislation providing that where a local government includes a standardized package of Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB), urban reinvestment/infill first priority, rural conservation (e.g., greenprints, conservation strategies) and other smart growth/anti-sprawl requirements in its General Plan, and that General Plan is ratified by local vote, consistent development projects would be offered CEQA “relief.”

6. Strengthen VMT as a Transportation Funding Criteria

Transition transportation impacts analysis under CEQA and General Plan transportation policy to VMT via incentives for transportation funding and through completion and adoption of SB 743 CEQA Guidelines.

SB 743 changes the way that transportation impacts are analyzed under CEQA. (See New Public Resources Code Section 21099.) Once the CEQA Guidelines are amended to address the new transportation methodologies, auto delay will no longer trigger an impact finding under CEQA. This change will occur at least within transit priority areas, and possibly throughout the state.

For more information please contact us.