Maybe it’s the desperation born of a $15 billion budget deficit this year, but extraordinary things are happening in California. According to the Sacramento Bee, an “unlikely coalition” of environmentalists, builders and local governments agreed Wednesday on legislation that would stop using state transportation money to subsidize “sprawl.”
California’s SB 375 would use the $5 billion in transportation money the state allocates each year to encourage compact development. The bill also would change how regions make transportation decisions to encourage development that increases affordable housing and reduces commute times, emissions and gasoline consumption. Additionally, the law would amend the California Environmental Quality Act to reward projects that improve air quality and energy conservation.
“We cannot continue to do business as usual,” said Ray Becker, chairman of the California Building Industry AssociationBecker said. “We all agree in one way or another to change the way we do business to be able to come together in this historic agreement.”
Such an agreement could never happen in Virginia, where productive dialog between key constituencies — legislators, local governments, the building industry, environmentalists and conservationists — is next to non-existent.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine struck out when he called a special General Assembly session to discuss transportation without first forging a consensus. If he wants to take another swing at the problem, he would be well advised to see how the warring parties were brought together in California… then try something similar. What we’re doing now is not working.
(Hat tip: Ted McCormack)