Image source does not exist News Release: 2010-06-23 CA Households Could Save $6,400 per Year from Better Community Planning
Railroad authority logoSGC logo

Release #:

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

Lindsay VanLaningham
(916) 324-9670

CA Households Could Save $6,400 per Year from Better Community Planning

New Report Shows Economic and Environmental Benefits of Reduced Sprawl

SACRAMENTO - A new analysis released today finds that building more healthy communities — with access to transportation options, and closer to jobs, shopping, schools and parks — could save money, cut pollution, and reduce our dependence on oil.

“California is leading the nation in tackling smart and comprehensive land‐use planning that will help us lay a foundation for economic growth, improve our quality of life and meet our environmental and health goals," said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This analysis shows we are moving in the right direction in working to design communities that allow Californians to save money by spending less time in their cars and more time with their families. By working together at all levels of government, we can help create a brighter, more sustainable future for generations of Californians to enjoy.”

“Vision California: Charting Our Future” was conducted by Calthorpe Associates, one of the nation’s leading planning and design firms. It assesses the economic, energy, health and land impacts of different options for accommodating a population expected to reach 60 million by 2050. The report analyzes the financial and environmental benefits of state, regional and local land use and transportation policies. The analysis finds Californians facing an enormous price tag in a “Business as Usual” future. People spend more time in their cars, traveling nearly 183 billion more miles and using over 6.5 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they would in a “Growing Smart” future that brings housing, jobs, and everyday needs closer together. Compared to the Business as Usual future, the Growing Smart future reduces annual household costs for gas, auto maintenance and household utility bills by 45% in 2050.

The findings show how changes in land use and infrastructure decisions can have huge benefits for Californians, the state’s economy, and the environment. Highlights of the report include:

“Right now, we are working with cities, counties, and regions to help create communities where people can have a high quality of life with transportation and housing choices that allow them to access the resources and amenities that California has to offer such as jobs, schools, healthy food and open space,” said Cynthia Bryant, Chair of the Strategic Growth Council. “The Vision California analysis allows us to consider the economic, environmental and health benefits of our land use and transportation decisions in a coordinated fashion so we can build quality communities for all Californians.”

“Decisions made now will haunt us for years to come if we stick to the status quo. This analysis drives home the enormous costs at stake for Californians,” said Darrell Steinberg, President Pro tempore of the California State Senate and author of SB 375, California’s historic smart growth law. “We can either grow smart at less cost while enjoying healthier, cleaner more livable communities, or, we can continue business as usual and watch our economy and our environment erode.”

Under SB 375, each of California’s regional agencies must meet benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles through land use and transportation development. The state is expected to release draft regional emissions targets by the summer, with a final vote in September. The bill was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2008 and supported by a coalition of unlikely supporters that included builders, developers, environmentalists, health advocates and government leaders.

"This is a great tool that will enable local governments and key regions in the state in their overall land‐use planning. High speed rail has the potential to provide significant economic stimulus in many communities across California, and with a cohesive statewide high‐speed rail system with complementary local planning, this collaboration can hugely benefit the future of our state." said Curt Pringle, Chairman of the California High‐Speed Rail Authority.

“Charting our Future” is the first report from Vision California, an unprecedented effort funded by the California High‐Speed Rail Authority, in partnership with the California Strategic Growth Council, to analyze the economic and environmental impacts of land use and transportation decisions on California’s future. The report uses Rapid Fire, a new state‐of‐the‐art analysis tool that tests the effects of land use and policy decisions across a wide variety of metrics. The report compares a “Business as Usual” scenario, which assumes a continuation of dispersed, auto‐oriented development patterns, with a “Growing Smart” scenario, which assumes a more balanced housing mix and greater transportation options. Vision California’s next steps include the development of detailed state‐wide physical land use and transportation scenarios utilizing new mapping and analysis tools that will serve to inform policy decisions at the state, regional, and local levels.

For a copy of the report, go to

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is the state entity responsible for planning, constructing and operating an 800-mile-long high-speed train system serving California's major metropolitan areas. The Authority has a nine-member policy board and a core staff.

The Strategic Growth Council is a cabinet level, statutorily mandated, committee that is tasked with coordinating the activities of state agencies to improve air and water quality, protect natural resource and agriculture lands, increase the availability of affordable housing, improve infrastructure systems, promote public health, assist state and local entities in the planning of sustainable communities and meeting AB 32 goals. The Council is composed of agency secretaries from Business Transportation and Housing, California Health and Human Services, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Natural Resources Agency; the director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research; and public member Robert Fisher who was appointed by the Governor.

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.