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Updated Alert: SBCAG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy

Updated Alert: 63 people took action for more sustainable cities.

On Thursday October 18th, the SBCAG board voted unanimously to support Scenario 3+ for their SB 375 Sustainable Communities Strategy.

CEC supported Scenario 3+ as one of the two scenarios that achieved the greatest reductions in per capita greenhouse gas emissions of 5% by 2020 and 11% by 2035. Note: The Sustainable Communities Strategy focuses on reducing vehicle miles traveled and does not include even greater reductions anticipated with increased fuel efficiency and lower carbon fuels.

Scenario 3+ brings jobs and housing closer together (thus reducing vehicle miles traveled) and concentrates future growth in transit oriented, infill developments. While Scenario 3+ didn’t include dedicated funding for transit (included in Scenario 7), it provided a commitment to enhanced transit.

We are optimistic that SBCAG staff will further develop the plan to include fair and balanced expansion of transit as needed. This plan is a step away from sprawling development and a step toward more walkable, bikeable, transit connected communities.

Original Alert:

Two years ago, we asked for your help in demanding that the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) develop a regional transportation plan that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You responded, SBCAG heard you, and they have since been working on various scenarios for that plan. CEC strongly recommends that they choose Scenario 7 or 3+.

This government agency (which includes the mayors of all eight cities in our county and the five supervisors of the County of Santa Barbara) is tasked with regional planning. However, past SBCAG Boards haven’t shown much interest in working regionally — preferring to stick up for the interests of their own cities.

Recently, a California law (SB 375) directed all regional planning agencies to come up with a Sustainable Communities Strategy. This strategy is supposed to fight sprawl by placing housing and jobs closer together, reducing traffic and congestion, incentivizing transit oriented infill development, and investing in transit and liveable cities.

The letter sent to City Council:

Dear Chair Gray and member of the SBCAG Board,

Re: SB 375 Sustainable Communities Strategy

This letter is in support of the Community Environmental Council’s recommendations regarding the Sustainable Communities Strategy. I encourage the Board to choose Scenario 7 or 3+ for further environmental analysis, as these options reduce congestion, traffic, and fuel use by bringing jobs and housing closer together and placing future growth in downtowns and transit corridors.

These scenarios reduce greenhouse gas emissions, give Santa Barbara County residents more diverse housing choices, and protect open spaces and farmland from sprawl. They were favorites at the public workshops, and are supported by SBCAG staff and the technical advisory committees. Please help Santa Barbara County develop in a more sustainable way.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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