More Aggressive GHG Reduction Targets
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has begun the process for considering revised GHG reduction targets for regions to include in their Sustainable Communities Strategies under SB 375. As part of that process, each region will submit information and a recommendation to CARB. Last Friday, MTC's Planning Committee held an informational hearing on this issue.
The Bay Area's current long-term GHG reduction target is a per capita reduction of 15% below 2005 levels by the year 2035. The question MTC is considering is whether the region should recommend an even more aggressive target to CARB that would apply to the next Plan Bay Area revision set to occur in 2021. The staff report for the hearing [attached] shows that only by assuming that the region will adopt an extreme set of land use and transportation policies could the region achieve more aggressive targets. For example, billions in funding for road maintenance and improvement would have to be redirected to public mass transit and new housing development would have to be concentrated almost exclusively in the region's Big 3 cities (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland). Also required would be imposition of a new gas tax of between $.80 cents and $1.60 cents per gallon to discourage driving.
BIA's written [attached] and oral testimony pointed out that if anything the MTC staff report understated the draconian policies that would be necessary. Among the other policy assumptions that have to be assumed for the Big 3 cities scenario to "pencil out" in computer modeling and achieve more aggressive GHG targets are: a new "VMT Fee" on the approval of suburban housing of up to $25,000 per house to subsidize affordable housing production in the Big 3 cities; removal of San Francisco's voter-approved cap on office development; and freezing of all current Urban Growth Boundaries.
Finally, BIA stressed that the best available information shows that region is currently not meeting, nor is it on track to meet, the existing 15% target. Only by assuming that the region has been producing enough new housing from 2010 to 2016 and that the great majority of that new housing has occurred in very dense Priority Development Areas (PDAs) can the region be considered to be "achieving" its current 15% GHG reduction target. However, the region is only producing about 66% of the SB 375 target housing units, and of that limited number only about 54% have occurred in PDAs. As a result, the region is "achieving" its GHG reduction target only in computer modeling.
BIA is working with CBIA and other local BIA's to present this information to CARB.