But [Stephanie Reyes, senior policy advocate with San Francisco’s Greenbelt Alliance] and other advocates acknowledge that the importance of SB375, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in late September, lies as much in the tone it sets as in what it will accomplish, which remains unclear.
Essentially the law, which will take years to implement, uses incentives and requirements to encourage local governments and builders to concentrate growth in urban areas or close to public transportation hubs in an effort to reduce Californians’ use of cars and lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
The ultimate impact will depend on how the legislation is put into effect, and whether its carrots and sticks will outweigh the cries from people who don’t want big new buildings on their block.
Whatever the law’s accomplishments, proponents hope it sends a clear message that will be reflected in future legislation and policies on the state and local levels: Dense, transit-oriented development is a critical goal for the collective good.