Background

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Greenhouse Gas Reductions and Economic Development:

“Green Means Go” is a multi-year pilot program proposed by SACOG to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the six-county Sacramento region by accelerating infill development, reducing vehicle trips, and electrifying remaining trips. Green Means Go, when adequately supported, will also improve quality of life in the region by improving local economic development, increasing housing availability, and decreasing traffic congestion.  Green Means Go is a key component of SACOG’s recently adopted 2020 Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS).

The Sacramento region faces unique challenges due to its composition of urban, suburban, and rural development. These unique challenges were recognized by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) when establishing new SB 375 GHG emission reduction targets. When CARB established SACOG’s 19% GHG reduction target, SACOG was the only region to have its target conditioned on successful implementation a pilot program. The pilot nature of Green Means Go allows it to be a model for other regions on how to effectively grow their communities while at the same time reducing GHG emissions.

Under Green Means Go, SACOG’s local jurisdictions will target investment and policies in “Green Zones”, which must have infill capacity, be in an area planned for infill development, and in a center, corridor or established community, as identified in SACOG’s SCS. Among other things, these Green Zones will be the laboratories for economic development projects that promote strategies to increase transportation options for shorter, cleaner, and fewer vehicle trips; increase housing options near transit centers; and make it easier for the Sacramento region to access electric vehicles for cleaner transportation. 

There is already universal buy-in from the Sacramento region as all 28 local jurisdictions support Green Means Go and many have submitted projects for preapproval.

Increasing Housing and Improving Transportation: 

In thinking through the best ways to reduce GHGs by almost 19% in the next 15 years, SACOG members identified three distinct areas that will have marked impacts in achieving these goals. They include: 

  1. Accelerating Infill: Accelerate development within areas of existing communities by prioritizing incentives and removing barriers
  2. Accelerating Travel Options: Increase transit, bicycle, and walking trips through programs, infrastructure improvements, and new mobility options
  3. Accelerating EV Deployment: Expand options for zero emissions transportation by increasing access to EV charging and shared EV programs and fleets

SACOG’s current MTP/SCS sets a goal of having 1/3 of all homes and 1/2 of all jobs in a transit priority area. Its membership has gone through an extensive planning process to develop a list of viable projects that meet the program criteria but face significant barriers due to factors like infrastructure costs. The documented projects noted on the following page would result if Green Means Go is funded.

These few highlighted projects show not only the excitement in the region for Green Means Go, but that the benefits go far beyond GHG reductions. Green Means Go is the Sacramento region’s commitment and solution to California’s housing and transit problems. The projects recognize there is a necessary connection between land use, housing, economic and workforce development, transportation investments, and travel choices. 

Regional Growing Pains: 

SACOG forecasts its six-county region needs 11,000 more housing units per year to meet projected demand, with 7,000 of those units needed in infill areas to meet the region’s ambitious GHG reduction targets. Infill development is costly, and our region is behind coastal and metropolitan areas in creating it. The region’s current infrastructure was built to support old commercial corridors; it simply does not support high-density housing nor do its cities and counties have the resources to upgrade sewer, water, drainage, and other infrastructure needs. Through Green Means Go and with the necessary funding, the region could open up 489.5 acres of development, resulting in 7,040 residential units, including:
• 68% residential, including 40% high-density residential
• 19% mixed use
•12% nonresidential (office, commercial, retail, public, and schools)
• 2% open space

The Time is Now: 

Under current law, the MTP/SCS must demonstrate conformity with federal air quality regulations as established under the Clean Air Act. California for decades has acted under a waiver to establish its own vehicle emission standards. President Trump recently revoked California’s waiver. This will make it difficult for SACOG to follow both federal and state standards and adopt their next MTP/SCS. Without an adopted MTP/SCS, the Sacramento region cannot receive certain state funding that requires the region to have an adopted MTP/SCS. SACOG is immediately vulnerable as the first Metropolitan Planning Organizing to have its MTP/SCS expire. Without significant funding assistance from the State, the greater Sacramento region’s emission reduction 19% goal will be unachievable.

Existing Programs Aren’t Enough:

Existing grants and funding streams are not enough to meet this ambitious goal. Further, with the ongoing threat due to California losing its Clean Air Act waiver, SACOG will no longer be eligible for many grant programs. As such, we respectfully request $100 million annually for the four-year duration of the Green Means Go pilot to reduce GHG emissions by pairing housing and transportation investments together to spur catalyst infill projects.