Sustainable Communities

This page last updated April 26, 2018

Cars on a freewayThe Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (Sustainable Communities Act, SB 375, Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008) supports the State's climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through coordinated transportation and land use planning with the goal of more sustainable communities.

Under the Sustainable Communities Act, CARB sets regional targets for GHG emissions reductions from passenger vehicle use.  In 2010, CARB established these targets for 2020 and 2035 for each region covered by one of the State's metropolitan planning organizations (MPO).  CARB will periodically review and update the targets, as needed.

Each of California's MPOs must prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" (SCS) as an integral part of its regional transportation plan (RTP).  The SCS contains land use, housing, and transportation strategies that, if implemented, would allow the region to meet its GHG emission reduction targets.  Once adopted by the MPO, the RTP/SCS guides the transportation policies and investments for the region.  CARB must review the adopted SCS to confirm and accept the MPO's determination that the SCS, if implemented, would meet the regional GHG targets.  If the combination of measures in the SCS would not meet the regional targets, the MPO must prepare a separate "alternative planning strategy" (APS) to meet the targets. The APS is not a part of the RTP.

The Sustainable Communities Act also establishes incentives to encourage local governments and developers to implement the SCS or the APS. Developers can get relief from certain environmental review requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) if their new residential and mixed-use projects are consistent with a regionals SCS (or APS) that meets the targets (see Cal. Public Resources Code 21155, 21155.1, 21155.2, 21159.28.).

2018 Progress Report (SB 150) 

SB 150 (Allen, Chapter 646, Statutes of 2017) requires CARB to prepare a report to the Legislature starting in 2018, and every four years thereafter, to discuss regional changes in GHG emissions related to SB 375 implementation.  This report will use data-supported metrics to assess progress toward statewide climate goals including SB 375 strategies, as well as the effect of State policies and funding programs.  It will also include a discussion of best practices and challenges to achieving greater reductions.

April 2018

June 2018

  • Anticipated Public Workshops

SCS Review Guidelines 

SB 375 Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets

Sustainable Communities Strategies Review

Key SB 375-Related Documents

  • Off-Model Strategies Adopted by California MPOs In Sustainable Communities Strategies (May 2016)
  • CARB's technical methodology for reviewing greenhouse gas reductions for an SCS (July 2011)
  • Text of SB 375
  • Text of companion legislation to SB 375:  SB 575
  • California Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines (2010)

Archived Sustainable Communities Target-Setting Activities

CARB Research to Support Sustainable Communities Strategies Implementation

CARB supports regional and local implementation of SB 375 through research.  CARB's research program includes investigation of the impacts of land use and transportation strategies on travel behavior, GHG emissions, air pollution exposure, equity, and health.
  • CARB research on policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles to support implementation of the Sustainable Communities Act. 
    • Susan Handy, Ph.D., UC Davis, discussed the research on this set of policies at an October 7, 2014 CARB research seminar.  Video of the seminar, the presentation slides, and other related materials are available here.

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