Published December 2020 – Among California’s biggest barriers to achieving its climate change goals are the state’s sprawling cities and towns, and the state’s related dependence on passenger cars. In 2014, recognizing the need to tackle these complex land use issues comprehensively, the state’s Strategic Growth Council launched two complementary grant programs to incentivize smart growth and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with sprawl development. These are the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program and the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) program. After six years of experience with the programs and approximately $1.8 billion in investments, we wanted to take stock of how well the AHSC and SALC programs work together to maximize the reduction of land-use related GHG emissions. It is also an important time to review how the state is performing overall in addressing the related challenges of our housing and our climate crises.
In this report, we provide background on the AHSC and SALC programs and related issues. We review our project questions, methodology and findings. Finally, we offer our recommendations for the two programs and related land use efforts to move California toward greater resilience, and sustainable, equitable communities.