VIDEO: Capitol Day asks Senator Steinberg how California economy can grow sustainably

150 150 John Guenther

The California Economic Summit – Capitol Day 2014 covered some of the most important economic challenges that the state faces. One of them is how we can grow the economy and grow our housing and infrastructure in a sustainable, smart way. Part of doing that is through the “sustainable communities” law SB375.

Capitol Day addressed smart growth in a conversation called “Making the Promise of SB 375 a Reality” and had Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the author of the legislation on hand to get a better idea of how the legislation will affect the economy. 

“SB375 in its essence combines the imperative of tackling climate change and integrating climate change with land use planning and transportation planning,” said Steinberg. “SB375 is a law that provides what I call a hard carrot to incentive the regions of our state to grow in ways that are more sustainable. To put in a third and final way, the goal of SB375 is to encourage growth but encourage growth in a way that limits the amount of time that people have spend in their automobiles to get from home to work or from home to where they shop and play.”

This part of the Capitol Day series includes the following speakers:

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Mike McKeever, CEO of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)
Richard Lyon, senior vice president of public policy of the California Building Industry Association
Don Perata, principal of Perata Consulting, LLC
Moderator Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

And here’s more on the SB375 conversation from Justin Ewers’ Capitol Day wrap up, “Three ways to ensure California’s prosperity emerge from Summit’s Capitol Day“:

With California’s population projected to swell to 50 million in the next three decades, it’s clear that cities must find new ways to grow. A 2008 law, SB 375, has fundamentally changed the way communities are thinking about “sustainable” regional growth—requiring regions to develop plans that tie together transportation, land-use, and housing for the first time. But paying for these projects—from transit stations to water systems and affordable housing—continues to pose problems, as does navigating the regulatory tangle of the state’s complex environmental laws.

What can the state do better to support the development of sustainable communities? Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, author of SB 375, joined Mike McKeever of the Sacramento Area Council of Government and Richard Lyon of the California Building Industry Association in noting three major policy opportunities in the years ahead:

  • Sustainable funding: While the state will use a portion of future cap-and-trade revenues for sustainable community development, there is still a need for more local infrastructure financing tools—including the tax-increment financing authority once available to redevelopment agencies. The Summit is supporting the enactment of one such tool before the legislative session ends, urging lawmakers to provide cities and local jurisdictions with a new Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts authority. A new long-term funding source for transportation will also be needed to replace the gas tax, a revenue stream that is failing to keep pace with rising infrastructure demands.
  • Regulatory relief: “We’ve made meaningful strides in the last few years,” McKeever said, pointing to CEQA streamlining for green projects and transit-oriented development in legislation including SB 375 and SB 743 (2013). Noting how rarely these exemptions have actually been used, given the complexity of the state’s environmental laws, he added: “We need to start hitting triples and home runs in this state. Some of this is CEQA, but some of is just cities and their zoning codes.”
  • Connecting workforce to regional planning: SB 375 began to pull sectors like housing and transportation into the same planning sphere. The next step, Steinberg believes, is bringing workforce and economic development into the mix: “We need to merge regional planning with our larger regional economic development strategies—including education and its relationship with modern economy.”

Watch Part One of Capitol Day: “Welcome & The Summit Plan to Advance Prosperity” and Part Two, “Training Workers for the Next Economy & Speaker Atkins.”

And you can catch all of the other sections of the Capitol Day program on this YouTube playist. Thanks goes to CalChannel for recording and editing their video of Capitol Day.


John Guenther

All stories by: John Guenther