Go Time for Green Means Go
Strong support for innovative pilot program that would remove roadblocks to infill development
April 29, 2019: Sacramento’s Capitol Park is a hive of activity this month, as office workers and pollinators alike are drawn to beautiful spring blooms. But the buzz of activity in the park is eclipsed by the rush of work happening inside the Capitol building, where lawmakers are jockeying to get their priorities reflected in the state budget.
A key priority for the Sacramento region is the $400 million that Senator Richard Pan and Assemblymember Ken Cooley have requested to fund the Sacramento region’s Green Means Go pilot program.
This is a four-year pilot aimed at accelerating infill development in the six-county region and complementing that construction with innovative and green mobility solutions that can provide reliable alternatives to driving alone. Infill development, which means building within communities that are already established, is a way to reduce urban sprawl and leapfrog growth.
Communities within the Sacramento region have been planning for infill development for many years but comparatively little has actually been built. That is because there are many barriers to infill development, from construction challenges such as the cost to seismically retrofit old buildings to the layering of state and local government regulations that can burden smaller infill projects with prohibitive costs.
Green Means Go would jump-start infill development by giving grants to local jurisdictions to incentivize it. Cities and counties have eagerly embraced this opportunity, as shown by the fact that 26 of the 28 jurisdictions within the SACOG region have supported the budget request with resolutions in support of the program, letters of support, and pre-applications to the program demonstrating the types of projects they want to see in “Green Zones” — areas they have identified as suitable for infill development.
These range from fee waiver programs for additional dwelling units — a low-cost way to make it easier for people to increase the housing density of their properties — to a small town purchasing an old hotel and redeveloping it into live/work units. Bigger projects include things like retrofits to sewer, water, and other infrastructure to make infill development more financially feasible.
The goal of the Green Means Go pilot program is to coordinate growth with transportation investments within SACOG’s region. It will result in more housing being built in already developed communities, meaning it pairs well with California’s push to get more housing built in all areas. And as Senator Pan and Assemblymember Cooley noted in their budget request, Green Means Go “provides an opportunity to learn how to best make the investments needed to meet our state’s climate goals.”